Why Are You So Worried?

I listen to a lot of Podcasts. One of my favorite is something called the Story Grid by Shawn Coyne who is an editor, and helping a guy named Tim Grahl become a better writer…and story teller.


The most recent episode is called, “What is a Phere?” Without having to listen to the whole podcast, let me sum it up for you. A “Phere” comes from “Sphere of Chaos” which is a psychological metaphor coined by Carl Jung. Jung proposed that every day, we encounter events that create chaos in our lives. That chaos, triggers an autonomic responsive action or feeling from us-for either good…or bad.


For instance, you just poured yourself a cup of hot coffee, and as you turn around, your dog gets in your way and you trip, spilling hot coffee on yourself, the floor, etc. Your first instinct is to yell at the dog, right? As if he wanted you to spill coffee everywhere on purpose. Then a million things go through your mind. The coffee has stained your shirt, and is going to require you to go back upstairs and change. The floor needs to be wiped up, and not the least of it is, you need to go back and get more coffee. Now add to this, that you were already a little late for work. You now are in a crisis.


Now, comparatively speaking with all the other problems of the world, this one is an easy fix, but to you, in that moment, nothing ever goes right for you. If you are not careful, this will create a progressive ripple of negativity that will grow as it festers. Your wife asks you “What’s wrong?” and you snap at her on your way out the door, grumbling something about the dog. You pull out in front of someone as you are driving to work, cutting them off, beeping at those who are moving slower than you. You walk into work and are hit by a number of people asking for your input to questions and you blow them off, because, all you want to do is get to your desk and put everything down.


What started as a small “sphere of chaos”, has now enveloped your entire home, traffic and work. And YOUR reaction to you wife, the dog, the person in traffic, your co-worker, now triggers a negative response in THEM. Now THEY are in a bad mood and figuratively, “bite someone else’s head off.”


You can all relate to the scenario that I just described, right? My guess is, that you even felt some instinctual responses as you read through. In storytelling, there is a moment in a crisis, when the character has to confront the sphere or “phere” of chaos in order to become the hero or protagonist we want him or her to be.


If, instead of yelling at the dog…you calmly placed your coffee cup back on the counter, apologized to your dog and rubbed his or her head. You would have taken a moment to focus on the chaos, and remind yourself that “things happen” randomly, that take us out of our comfort zone. You would have realized that your wife was only trying to help, that you can’t make other cars go faster, and that your co-workers valued your input so much that they couldn’t wait for you to get in.


Jung will go on to say that these “spheres of chaos” are actually GOOD for us. They challenge our thinking and status quo. These…interruptions, keep us human. We are “Social creatures” not robots with a list of duties. And we learn from how we deal with other people, pressure, anxiety, and threat. Like any good character in the story, they will mature into the hero they need to be, but not without facing those challenges, no matter how small.


This morning, as our Corps Cadets were leaving, there were a million things that seemed to go wrong. There was a lot of anxiety that started to trickle throughout the group. That group had two choices, continue to focus on the problem, or see the problem as an obstacle, that only threatened the spiritual investment that God has in store for them this weekend.


So many times, we miss a coming blessing, because we are too focused on our “phears” and let them consume us, wasting the potential that God created to strengthen us.


Pray for our young people this weekend. I trust God is going to do some really good work in their life. And next time you spill coffee…breathe a word of prayer.
Prayer is God’s vehicle by which He brings order to chaos, and puts worry in the rear-view mirror.
See you Sunday.