I was at a high school retreat this past week to lead worship. On the last day, I found some of the equipment broken and my guitar damaged and began to fret. I know that these were caused by carelessness and disregard by others, and I began to vent angrily at the situation.
The effect I had on the others were immediately felt. Smiles and laughter became muted, the talking ceased, and the team who were helping me break down slowly began to position themselves farther from me. My negativity was felt. And even though in my bones I felt justified in fretting over the damage, I was soaked with a sense of wrongdoing and brokenness.
Fretting seems like a small deal, but it has consequences on relationships that are far more expensive to fix than broken equipment. Oftentimes, I fret about small things. Reparable things. Things that with a little bit of effort can be rectified. Yet, these small moments of fretting come at a great cost. Fretting causes division between people, a fixation upon the unfixable past, the breaking down of the life that has been given to love, construct, and move forward. The damage caused by fretting is vastly more difficult to restore.
From now on, I want to fret not.
Today, I spilled some roasted tomato juice on a new pair of selvedge jeans. I began to fret about how annoying the situation was and a surge of anger began to rise from within me. Probably because of the equipment episode, I was able to recognize what was happening and step back to think. The effort needed to clean these jeans probably takes no more than 15 mins of my time to google a fix and apply it. In the worst case scenario, I just buy new jeans. What's the big deal? Is it worth spending in sullenness the hours of time that I will never get back?
But what if it was irreversible. Not a pair of jeans but my face? Not a mic stand but my vocal cords? What if the damage is of the traumatic kind? Should we fret then?
It's incredible that we can fixate on something so small as stained jeans. It's moments like these that prevent us from seeing the unfathomable reality of eternity. If Jesus is coming back to restore everything at the cost of his life, where he not only lost his body but his soul and spirit, then all of our afflictions are momentary. There is reason to rejoice even in our suffering.
I'm not saying that we shouldn't grieve or hold back our emotions. When we're angry, we should be angry. When we're sad, we should be sad. But do we let these emotions control us onto destruction? Do we need to be enslaved by them? No.
What can do is to give the appropriate response to any situation. And the eternal nature of God's gift to us in Christ, once grasped, becomes to context within which we measure all our mishaps. We can weep over tragedy as Jesus wept over Nazarus's death. Yet, just as Jesus knew what would happen in a moment, and therefore moved on to call his name out of his grave, we can move forward in our moments of frustration knowing that one day Jesus will call our name from all the brokenness of this life onto eternity with him.
So don't fret. Look up and look forward. Jesus is calling.