Be Strong and Brave
Sometimes when we face a challenging situation we feel worried. Maybe something will go wrong or things won't turn out the way we want. This week's Torah portion teaches us that it's better to have courage and trust in God at these times rather than to worry. "Be strong and brave," The Torah tells us. "Don't be afraid and broken by (your challenges), because God is with you and He won't let you down."(Deut. 31:6) Not only will we enjoy life more when we live this way, but we will find the confidence to accomplish much more than we ever could by worrying.
In our story a girl learns to replace worry with confidence and trust.
The normally plain-looking Saunder School lunchroom looked more like Symphony Hall. Kids holding all types of musical instruments -- from slender piccolos to massive brass tubas -- crowded around the long gray tables as they awaited their turn to try out for the all-school marching band.
Lisa Morris balanced her trombone on her lap as she reached into her red-and-white tote bag to pull out a can of soda and two plastic cups. "Want a drink? It's on me," she said cheerfully to her friend Marilyn who was sitting next to her.
But Marilyn didn't respond. She seemed in another world as she stared out into space through nervous eyes.
"Hey, are you in there?" Lisa quipped as she jokingly elbowed her friend in the shoulder.
Marilyn looked up. "Um, yeah, I mean no thanks," she said. "I'm too worried to drink."
"Worried? About what?" asked Lisa, scrunching up her eyebrows.
"Well, aren't you worried?" responded Marilyn. "This is our big chance to make the band, and I'm afraid I'm gonna blow it."
Lisa pointed to her friend's flute and said, "You had better 'blow' it or you definitely won't make it."
Marilyn laughed. "You know what I mean," she said. "I'm afraid I'll forget my song, or my flute will jam, or..."
"Everything will go great!" Lisa interrupted. "Listen Mar, you can sit and worry if you want, but when they call me, I intend to go in and try my best. That's all I can do. The rest is in God's hands. I think I play pretty well, but it's not up to me. Either way life will go on, so why worry?"
"One thing is for sure though," Lisa said, "being nervous won't help you play any better, and its likely to make things worse..."
"LISA MORRIS, NEXT PLEASE", crackled the voice over the intercom.
"Well, here I go. Wish me luck!" said Lisa as she ceremoniously marched toward the try-out room.
Marilyn smiled at her friend's antics. The girl took a deep breath and tried to relax as she waited for her turn.
A few moments later Marilyn heard her name being called. Instinctively she felt herself tense up as she walked toward the try-out room. But then she recalled her friend's words and attitude.
As she did, Marilyn felt her own worries begin to melt away. By the time she got to the door she felt almost calm and ready to give it her best shot.
Q. How did Marilyn feel at first while she was waiting for her turn to try out for the band?
A. She felt very nervous and worried that something would go wrong.
Q. How did talking with her friend Lisa make her feel?
A. She saw from Lisa's example that she didn't have to be so worried and felt much better.
Q. Why wasn't Lisa worried?
A. While she was certainly concerned about the tryouts and really wanted to make the band, Lisa realized that worrying about it wouldn't help her to reach her goal. She knew that she had the best chance if she tried her hardest while trusting in God. She correctly saw worrying as an unproductive waste of her energy.
Q. Are we really in control of whether we get nervous or not or does it just happen?
A. There are some situations, such as band tryouts where there is a lot on the line. It is only natural that in times like this we will feel tense or nervous, and that's okay. But we do have the ability to take control of that feeling and not let it carry us away. If we give ourselves positive messages that everything will work out for the best, and if we remember that God is always by our side, we can really make many of these nervous feelings disappear.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. What is the difference between fear and worry?
A. While the two feelings may be similar there are some crucial differences. Fear is a natural reaction to a genuine threatening or dangerous situation that exists in the present. It is the body's way of preparing itself for "fight or flight," to give it extra energy to face up to or escape from the situation. Worry tends to produce in us similar sensations when there is no immediate or real danger. Often it focuses on past events that no longer threaten us, or dwells on possible future problems (what if... etc.) which may never materialize. Whereas appropriate fear can be constructive and energizing, worry weakens us and makes us less effective.
Q. Is there a connection between a person's level of faith, or trust in God, and his ability to stop worrying? If so, what?
A. Faith is a realization that we are not alone when facing challenges. We understand that God is with us to help us deal with them successfully, and that He has also placed the challenge before us as an opportunity to grow. As long as we put in our best effort, we can rest assured that whatever results will be for our best good. When we see things in this light, there is no longer any reason to worry, and life becomes much more manageable.