I think I want to revive a term I recently encountered. “Troublous,” as in, “We are trying to navigate troublous events in this world.” It was listed as an adjective in my American College Dictionary which noted the word was Archaic. I think that meant something like ancient or primitive and in any case, not much used anymore. I can’t be sure because the same dictionary didn’t define it, a surprise since the compilers used it regularly.
It’s kind of annoying when you seek out a word’s meaning then have to go on to look up another one in order to understand the one you wanted to better comprehend in the first place. It happened a second time in one sitting. I’ll explain.
Like many, I am feeling restless these days. Anxious. Worried. Sometimes fearful. Mental health statistics show higher numbers of individuals experiencing these after all we’ve been through this past year, affecting ages across the spectrum.
I’ve been on a quest to quell personal fear and worry using such strategies as mind over matter, faith over fear, and taking tangible steps of action even if I have to do it afraid. For instance, I finally scheduled a COVID vaccine appointment after lengthy worry over how it might affect other conditions. I went back to church to be with people and hear a live sermon, with safety protocols of course, even though it had begun to feel far safer to just watch online. Like many, I hunger for life as it used to be but isn’t likely to be again, at least not soon or in exactly the same way.
What led me to my dictionary was a desire to explore some of these things I’m feeling and what I found somehow validated the emotions. If anxiety can be described as distress or uneasiness of mind caused by apprehension of danger or misfortune, as well as a state of psychic tension, then others must be experiencing these too.
Seeking out the word “anxious” led me to having to look up another word. If you are anxious, you are full of anxiety or solicitude, it said, greatly troubled or solicitous. Okay, so what is that? It means to be anxious or concerned over something, like being solicitous about a person’s health, as I am my own with pain and the lack of answers on various issues, even with trips through the ER. How do you fight something that remains a mystery? Solicitous also means anxiously desirous or eager for something, as we are for a sense of normalcy to return.
The Latin root of anxious means concerned, worried, disturbed or troubled. Troubled was defined as to disturb the mind, annoy, agitate or distress. All are familiar and translate to emotions I know well. The archaic word underneath drew me in, however, bringing to mind our “troublous world,” Troublous means characterized by trouble or being disturbed, unsettled, even restless over turbulent things.
Doesn’t all this pretty accurately describe our times? I’ve always been a worrier to some extent but never considered myself a negative person, certainly not a doomsayer. I’m hearing this around me as well. Troublous events have even shaken people with positive and cool attitudes. Who isn’t concerned or scared about a plague still taking lives and making people sick? Who isn’t rattled by the way everything is politicized these days in rancorous ways? Who doesn’t wonder about our young people’s future with interrupted education, social growth and rampant government spending with debt stretched for generations?
Hard things. Worrisome, anxious, “troublous” things.
What can we do? Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand. These are real problems. We can, however, remember we were made to be resilient. To rebound. To recover. Look at history and its cycles, from bad times to good. Reflect on your own life.
Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Keep your fear to yourself, but share your courage with others.” It’s hard for worrywarts like me not to spill out, but when I look back at past challenges, I do have hope.
I’ve quoted her before but Eleanor Roosevelt left a fortifying comment: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
In the Bible, the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, who were experiencing hard times, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” He added that those who did would attain a “peace that passes understanding” (Phil. 4:6-7).
We’re experiencing “troublous times,” no argument, but so did the ancients, and we can still read about how they conquered, through faith. Courage. Resiliency, as have we if we look back. We can never give up hope. And what better time than Easter to reflect on how one man, Jesus, offered hope for all.
(Contact contributor Deb Wuethrich at email@example.com.)