Worry Dolls

While chaperoning my son’s field trip yesterday, my eyes were drawn to the brightly colored worry dolls in the souvenir shop, that robber of parent’s funds and supplier of children’s joys.

Seeing the worry dolls reminded me that I had, indeed, proudly donned a worry doll headband when I was younger. Yes, I was that awesome. Big, round glasses before the hipsters reclaimed them as cool and braces with a worry doll headband to complete the ensemble. Winning.

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I wish that the dozens of worry dolls that dotted my head like a half-crown were actually able to deliver on their promises. But a million worry dolls would not have been enough to absorb the myriad worries and fears that I concocted.

There is something charming about the tradition attached to the Guatemalan toys. According to the stories, the tradition is to be traced back to a Mayan princess who received a special gift from the sun god which enabled her to solve any problem or worry. As such, parents began to give their children worry dolls which were to receive their fears and worries, enabling them a modicum of peace and relief.

I love to study cultures and traditions because in them we should find the longings that have been planted in our hearts by the One true god. While I do not believe in a sun god or the special gift given to a young Mayan princess, I see in this story the universal longings and needs of the human heart.

The world was not meant to be broken. Before autonomy was valued over trusting obedience to the Creator God, neither thorns nor worries existed. Shalom existed on every plane. Man was right with God, mankind, self and creation. Yet, since mankind mutinied, we have felt the painful presence of brokenness on every plane.  Shalom was shattered.

Every since then, humanity has hunted for something to piece the shards back together into some semblance of peace. Innately, it seems, we know that we cannot and will not find the solution within ourselves, though that has not stopped us from trying.   Thus, we find ourselves placing our hopes and our haggard selves into outside relief, even in the form of precious little worry dolls.

There is something so right about the worry dolls. We do need a place, and not just a place, but a person, on whom to place all our worries.

But the person must be the unique God-Man, the person of Jesus. He is the One and only mediator between God and man that Job found himself longing for in the midst of his suffering.

For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together. There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both. Job 9: 32-33.

We are on other side of the Incarnation and the Cross. We know the Mediator whom Job longed for and whose presence we see panted for in the existence of the worry dolls.

We are invited to cast our worries, cares, longings and fears unto Him, the only one who can truly shoulder such burdens. For with His life, death and resurrection, He has solved the cosmic conundrum of our sin and done what the legendary Mayan princess could never do. He who has solved the greater need with Himself can surely be trusted with the lesser needs of the lesser planes.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7. 

As one who is worry-prone raising worry-prone children in a worry-filled world, this is good news, indeed. Christ is sufficient. He has already completed the work, and He is coming again to restore shalom for those who will trust in Him.

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