‘Stop mithering!‘ was a phrase I heard frequently in my childhood. For those of you not brought up in the Barnsley area of South Yorkshire, ‘mither’ (with a long ‘i’, as in ‘might’) may not be a familiar word. It means to fuss over something, usually with a negative connotation such as moaning or grumbling. It was a phrase I heard a lot because, sad to say, I’m an expert at mithering.
When I mither, I ‘sweat the details.’ As a pedantic control freak, I tend to see sweating the details as quite a virtue, a unique selling point, almost! I like to be organised and to work out the little details. For years I organised speaking tests at school which involved military precision timing and movement as one pupil had to be moved, under supervision, from a preparation room to the exam room without any chance of meeting another pupil en route. (Not as easy as it might sound in the building I worked in!) There is, however, a fine line between organisation and mithering. My organisation frequently falls into the fussing category, and before I am even vaguely aware of the fact, tips into downright worry.
Jesus was unequivocal about the pointlessness of worry: ‘Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?’ He asked (Matt 6:27) Worry saps our energy and achieves nothing except our own loss of peace. Yet so often we fuss, worry, moan and complain as an alternative to trust.
Jesus told us not to worry, and for those of us whose initial reaction to that commandment is ‘easier said than done!’ offered us a practical alternative to worrying: ‘Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.’ (Matt 6:33) There truly is no need to mither, because God know our needs (Matt 6:32) and has promised to supply them (Phil 4:19). As Stephen reminded us last night, the antidote to living life in a worried lather (‘a mucksweat’, to keep to Yorkshire idioms!) is to trust the God who is able to do ‘immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.’ (Eph 3:20)