The Habit of Worry

You don’t have to answer the knock at the door

When Worry Knocks

The knock on the door can come
 at any time of the day or night. 
And when it does, you know
in your gut who it is, because
you’ve heard it so many times before.

Your response is automatic:
Without thinking, without
considering the consequences,
you drop everything
and run to the door. Opening it,
you say “Come in. Of course.
would you like some tea?”
Because that’s what you’ve
always done.

We’re taught to welcome
the friend and the stranger 
alike. To be “hospitable.” To 
never say “No” to someone 
in need. Even when our house
or hands are full. Even when
the grandkids are visiting
from out of town with their 
dogs and their toys, and our
hearts and bedrooms are full,
we’re told there’s always room
for one more. We must, they
say, never be like the hard-
hearted innkeeper from the 
Nativity story. And, so, without
thinking, of course we say 
“Yes. Welcome.”

We don’t ask impertinent
questions like “How long
are you in town this time?”
or “How great is your need?”
We simply say, “Yes,” and then
suffer the consequences.

But Worry is a thief who steals
your most cherished possessions.
Who, right before your eyes,
eats you out of house and home. 
The freeloader who finishes 
the milk, then complains when 
there’s none for his coffee.
He has your PIN, and each 
time he visits, Worry empties out 
your bank account, little
by little, hoping you won’t 
notice, or remember the next 
time he drops in.

You don’t need to open the door
to this con man any more. Although
you’ve invited him in a thousand
times before, you don’t have to this time.
This is your chance to say “No. I won’t
let you rob me blind anymore.”
And if you don’t have the guts yet
to say it to his face, send someone 
else to the door, or turn out the lights 
and pretend you’re not home until 
Worry gives up and walks away
perplexed. But, nevertheless, 
moves on.

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