Warts. No one wants warts, but virtually everyone gets them at some point in their life. Historically, they were considered sinister, notably during the late 1600s during the Salem Witch Trials. The accused were stripped and searched for a ‘devil’s mark,’ which included warts as proof of their unholy alliance. A dark, tragic time in history.
Warts, besides the connotation of unattractive physical attributes, also refer figuratively to person’s other shortcomings. According to the 1764 book Anecdotes of Painting in England by Horace Walpole, when artist Sir Peter Lely began painting Oliver Cromwell’s portrait, he reported told him to render his likeness ‘warts and all,’ thus the origin of this well-known idiom still used today. While he actually did have a wart above his eyebrow, he was both loved for his strength of leadership and hated for his ruthless conquests, so his persona was complex as well. Looking at the portrait, perhaps the artist captured some of that ambiguity.
Nowadays we know warts are caused by a common virus and can go away on their own or are easily treatable. Most people are familiar with plantar warts, which I walked on frequently as a teenager, sometimes painfully. I also had a non-physical wart that is common, but it is more painful and harder to treat. Unfortunately it reoccurs to this day. Worry Wart. I am a long-time worry wart. In high school a friend gave me a round worry wart made of yarn to do my worrying for me. It resembled a pompom, or Dr Suess’ Thing 1 and Thing 2’s hair. In my career, a co-worker gave me a rubber spaghetti stress ball that I could throw at people who caused me to worry (I did not actually use it, though tempted a few times). The only treatment that brings relieve is reading and believing biblical truths. In Matthew 6:25 Jesus says, ‘do not worry.’ Because I do worry, I struggled with that for years believing I was a bad example of a believer, not able to consistently apply those words in my life.
The more I read the Psalms, however, the more I accepted I am normal. King David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), yet reading the Psalms, of which he wrote half of them, they reveal he often cried out to God about his worries and fears. During his life he showed both great strength and great failure, always returning before the Lord in humility, thankfulness, and sorrow when he failed. The Bible describes King David warts and all.
So I no longer feel guilty suffering from reoccurring worry warts. I know I can treat them with my many favorite Bible passages. One of the passages is Philippians 4:4-9, where Paul exhorts believers to rejoice in the Lord always, do not worry but pray with thanksgiving, and God’s peace will guard your heart and mind. He writes about thinking virtuous thoughts and living a wholesome life. Then he says in Philippians 4:9 ‘…and the God of peace will be with you.’ While it may sound too simplistic for a life-long affliction, it has been a calm-inducing treatment for me that works every time.