You’ve probably heard of organizations conducting threat assessments. The idea is to determine the credibility and seriousness of a potential threat. Say, of a hurricane damaging or destroying a coastal business, or of a terrorist attack crippling a city. And, these days, you can likely think of too many possible threats that might need assessing.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I’m working on is a fret assessment. This came up in Sunday’s sermon and I was immediately captivated by the idea. Sure there are threats that need to be taken seriously. But what about all the frets that are shaping my days??

In the first eight verses of Psalm 37 we’re told three times not to fret, not to be agitated by all the trouble in the world. How are you doing with that these days? I think fretting has become a sport and doggone if we’re not getting really good at.

So, how to conduct a fret assessment? Well, I looked up threat assessment steps to see if they might apply. I think it works.

  1. Identify the frets. Let’s see, some of my current frets include (there are more, but I’ll not subject you to them ALL):
    1. The chaos in our nation.
    2. Coronavirus and all it’s implications (masks, loneliness, illness, relationships)
    3. Not being able to make it as a novelist.
  2. Assess the frets. Here, I consider the likelihood and potential impact of the frets.
    1. The likelihood of chaos right now feels high. The direct impact on me is medium with the biggest impact being on my mental state. I’m not in physical danger and the potential dangers of societal changes, new policies, and that sort of thing remain to be seen.
    2. The likelihood of my life being disrupted by the coronavirus is high. Very high. And the impact is pretty doggone high as well. It’s not so much about getting sick as it is about not being able to live my life normally. There’s just too much change for me to feel comfortable.
    3. The likelihood of my failing as a novelist is, I think, relatively low (I could argue that I’ve already succeeded!). And the impact, if I do fail, is also low. This fret is more about pride, I think.
  3. Develop fret controls. What’s my response and how do I mitigate the real frets?
    1. Psalm 37 has lots of good advice about what my response to chaos and coronavirus should be: trust in the Lord and do what is good; commit your way to the Lord; refrain from anger. There’s more but you get the idea.
    2. As for mitigating, there are actions I can take to bring peace–reading Psalm 37 turns out to be a good start! I can talk with friends who also believe that God is in control even in chaos. I can stop consuming the news (how much fret is real and how much inspired by negative news?).
    3. The fret over writing isn’t as serious but I can still mitigate by reading, learning, writing, and generally honing my craft.
  4. Evaluate my fret response. This is a future action. Next week, next month, next year I should consider how I handled my frets and analyze what worked and what I could do better. Number one on that list would be to . . . fret less.

How about you–do you think it would be helpful to perform a fret assessment in your life? If you do, I’d love to hear if you think it helped.