I think my struggle with worry might have started with Big Bird.
I was 5 years old when our local tv station had a special promotion. It was simple: If you watched Sesame Street for 5 days in a row and your parents sent in a special form from the newspaper confirming your viewing, you would receive your very own Big Bird feather. I mean they would send you ONE OF BIG BIRD’S ACTUAL FEATHERS!
Please! I was ALL IN!
I LOVED Big Bird, so the idea of having one of his ginormous feathers for my own sounded absolutely delightful! What a treasure that would be!
I watched dutifully all week long, pig-tails pulled tight in our wood-paneled living room (Hello, 70s!), laughing at Bert & Ernie and reciting my ABCs like a champion. And at the end of the week, my mom sent in the form. A couple of weeks later, an envelope arrived with MY VERY OWN NAME on it. Inside of it was the yellowest, biggest feather a girl could ever want! It was glorious!
It felt as if we had a special connection now, Big Bird and I. He probably knew my name and stuff. I could hardly wait to see him the next day so I could show him my feather (Because, 5 years old…).
My excitement was short-lived, though. I think it lasted for 3 entire minutes. Because it hit me: What if all of the kids all over the whole wide world did the same thing that I did? What if when I see Big Bird again, he is…(gulp)…plucked clean! Naked!
The guilt, people. I hardly slept that night, wondering if he was cold. I mean, can’t you just picture him sitting on that big nest of his, shivering?!
When it was Sesame Street time the next day, I was so happy and relieved to see that Big Bird seemed to have plenty of feathers! In fact, he looked exactly like he always had. (I didn’t think anything of it, because…again…5 years old.)
Big Bird was safe and full of feathers. My guilt was relieved. I cherished that feather for a long time, before silly pre-teen me threw it out. (Foolish girl. Wish I still had it.)
Even though I can see that memory clearly now with grown-up eyes, I still have a tendency to worry about things. And most of the time, that thing I’m worried about isn’t even very realistic or likely. Aren’t those the MOST FUN things to worry about?! The giant “what ifs.” The things we can’t control. The things that steal our sleep and peace.
There’s one thing, though, that helps me shed worry every single time: Sharing it. When I share my worries with people I trust, they are SO OFTEN able to help me put things in proper perspective. What is especially helpful is when I confide in people who follow Jesus the way I want to, with their whole hearts. Those are the people who remind me that Jesus is just ready and waiting to catch that worry. All I have to do it toss it over to him. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Did I share my Big Bird worries with anyone? Nope. I wish I had. How much better off would I have been if I shared my concerns with my parents? I’ll never know, but I imagine they would have been reassuring and kind. They would told me that he was fine, that he had plenty of feathers and that all was going to be ok. Instead of sharing, I stewed and tossed and turned, worrying myself to pieces.
So, if you have a worry or twelve today, share your concerns with someone you can trust. God gives us friends on purpose. And God gave us Jesus. Don’t ever forget about him. He’s the friend you can trust the very most.
Cast those cares, people! Trust Jesus with your worries. You’ll be so glad you did.
(And in case you’re wondering how the Sesame Street gang is doing these days, you can follow them on Twitter. You KNOW I do. @BigBird)
Big Bird, Bert & Ernie, and Sesame Street are trademarks belonging to Sesame Workshop (formerly Children’s Television Workshop), New York, NY 10019.