Worriers don’t have time to read. There’s too much pacing and thinking and emergency contingency planning for us to do before we sit down with a book.
Reading is a thing for calm people. It’s for people who have enough peace in their being to say, “I think I’ll just sit still and let my eyes leisurely roll over these pages because there is no way I left my trunk open, and there’s no way I need to send a third follow-up text to my friend clarifying my other text, and I’m certain that thump thump thump sound the washing machine is making isn’t the sound of a washing machine about to explode.
Worriers think a lot and we think it fast. We prepare for things while we practice for other things and put out fires while we start new ones. During my seasons of anxiety, I’ve rarely been able to calm down long enough to pick up a book. But, for us worriers, reading can be freeing. Here are three fears you might have about reading and why you should fight through the fear and pick up the book.
Fear of change
I’d be embarrassed to make a list of books I haven’t read because I didn’t really want to be challenged by whatever particular thing that book was about.
I remember in my twenties picking up a copy of Radical by David Platt. I did not finish it. I HATED it. Not because it’s a bad book, but because I didn’t want someone telling me to live with radical love and radical surrender to the Lord. I was afraid of what that would mean for my life.
I’ve closed a historical fiction book because it was too sad being exposed to pain from the past.
I sprint the other way when I see a book about whole foods diets.
Books have the power to change us. That’s a reason to run, but that’s all the more reason to read. That’s especially true if we are anxious people. We need change. We need conviction. We need encouragement. We need perspective beyond our own fears. Fear of change can keep us from reading, but that is exactly why we need to.
Fear of Missing Out
The decision to read is a decision to not do something else with that time. If I’m reading this book, what am I not doing that I could or should be doing?
There is so much to do. There is limited time.
The problem is, you can’t really snake a clogged shower drain while absorbing the wisdom of a Tim Keller book. You can’t file your taxes and relax in a fantasy series like Harry Potter at the same time. You’re going to miss out on the magic of Hogwarts or the wisdom of Keller, and you’re probably going to get audited.
Reading requires your time and focus, and because of that, when you read, you are absorbing the message or experience of a book in a full and complete way. Which is exactly why worriers should do it. We need to miss out on some things sometimes. We need to learn and we need to rest, so we need to read.
Fear of Not Finishing
If you’re a worrier, a book can be a daunting thing. Life often feels overwhelming, and books feel like that one more thing you should be doing because it’s good for you. But OH MY GOODNESS — who has got the time for that? I’m just going to feel like a failure when the same page is dog-eared on my nightstand nine months from now.
I’ve learned, over the past few years, to read in order to rest. I don’t set reading goals that stress me out. I don’t require X chapters a day to feel like a “real” reader. I don’t even have to finish every book. I read because I like it, because it is good for me, and because it helps me rest. Be OK with not finishing. Don’t be OK with not starting at all.