martes, 18 de abril de 2017

Free to Live Life--Not Worry About It

-The Catholic Women Bloggers Network decided that their blog hop for April would answer "How My Faith Helps Me Worry Less."

Oh, man--this topic was made for me!

When I was a kid, I was anxiety-riddled.  Had they diagnosed kids with anxiety disorders back in the day, I might have qualified.

OK, maybe.  I was still able to function.  Most days.  But I do remember that we had gym class twice a week in 6th grade, and toward the end of the year, I would regularly get early symptoms to panic attacks--shortness of breath, increased heart rate--while standing in line, waiting to go into that dreaded gym.

Or, when I was 10, I was so traumatized by the thought of getting a shot that I spent many sleepless nights worrying about it.  That, and decided to start plucking my eyebrows to get myself used to the pain of that dreaded tetanus booster--despite the fact that I knew I didn´t need the booster for another 5 years!  "Only 5 more years, and I´ll have to get that shot . . . only five more years" . . . as the tears rolled down my face.

Or the summer I spent the entire summer flat on my back, reading on the couch.  Partly, it was because I liked to read.  Partly, it was because I was afraid of going outside as one of the neighbor boys would ride past on his moped a few times a day.  Whenever he saw me, he felt compelled to honk and shout at me--not complementary honking and shouting, of course.  

Worry and insecurity.  Those symptoms dominated my childhood.

I was confirmed when I was thirteen, and went through most of the confirmation process believing Conformation to be a personal acceptance of the faith I was brought up to believe.  Taking the faith I was raised in and professing it as my own.  A Protestant Bat Mitzvah, if you will.  I took it seriously, agreed that "yes, I believe this" and, more importantly, "yes, I WANT to believe this."  As an adult, I was relieved to know that there is a bit more to Confirmation than that.  Nonetheless, it was an important step in my faith development.

Like I said earlier, I liked to read.  When I was fifteen, I decided that I was going to read through the entire Bible.  And I did.

Now, most people get stuck not long after Exodus.  The books of Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy are pretty much a list of rules and regulations.  While I didn´t read those books avidly, they changed my life.  Reading about all the sacrifices that the Isrealites had to make for every single sin they could possibly commit, Christianity--and most importantly, Jesus--began to make sense to me.

Now, don´t get me wrong.  I thought I had it all figured out.  I had been confirmed, after all.  But, after reading all those rules and regulations, it suddenly became clear why Jesus was necessary, why exactly he died, and why it is that we don´t have to make those sacrifices to be made right with God anymore.

Jesus did it all already.  All those sins that are recorded in those books--and so many of them are so off-the-wall it wouldn´t occur to most of us to think of anyone committing those acts--are wiped clean by Jesus dying on the cross.  And all we have to do in return is to believe and follow him.

Or, as Mary said to the servers at the wedding in Cana, "just do what he says."

In comparison to what he did for us, that isn´t much to ask of us.

While this revelation made my faith more profound and more understandable, It had a tremendous impact on my anxiety and insecurity issues.  Understanding my faith better liberated me--all of a sudden, I wasn´t plagued by worry, or consumed by anxiety.

Of course, I was in high school, and still cared what others thought of me, but not near to the extent that I did earlier.  More importantly, this revelation helped me accept that certain issues are out of my control.  Accepting this, I was able to live my life instead of worry about it.

Knowing better who God is and who Jesus is made it possible to accept that I am not in control.  And, knowing them, I realized that that´s OK.

Now, more than twenty years later, people who know me remark about how laid-back I am.  I joke that I barely have a pulse.  But that wasn´t always the case.  I used to be a high-strung, Type A.  Some think that moving to Mexico mellowed me.  There may be a lot of truth to that.

But if I hadn´t realized who God is and why Jesus died, Mexico would have broken me instead of mellowing me.

Every day is another step of faith.  I can take those days and trust.  Or I can pretend that I have control of my universe and unnecessarily stress myself out.

Trust seems harder.  But it really is so much easier.


For those reading this, who are still stuck being a big ball of worry, I wish I could explain this better.  Pray.  And if you comment, I´d love to pray with you.  (Even if you don´t comment, I´ll pray with you.)  It sounds simplistic, and maybe it is, slowly but surely, those worries that turn into prayers do get resolved.  We put those worries into hands more capable than ours.  And when we give away those worries to God, we don´t have to hang onto them ourselves.

Trusting those hands is tough.  But God has proven time and again that He is trustworthy.  (Even thought he´s God and he certainly doesn´t have to prove anything to anybody.)  But because he wants us to trust him, he´ll continue to prove himself trustworthy.

God lets us live life instead of worry about it.


Other reflections on "How My Faith Helps Me Worry Less" are on the Catholic Women Bloggers Network blog hop for the month of April.

5 comentarios :

Beautiful Camouflaged Mess dijo...

You know, I think this is the first time EVER I have considered Mary's "Just do what he says," to apply to me, too.

Lately, I've been thinking of the role of "discipline" in spiritual practices - and, that makes complete sense... we are instructed by Christ's own mother to "do as He says."

Amazing epiphany! Thank you for that... I may have to work on an article about that, and link back here.

Thank you for your insight... I love how our Faith has helped tackle otherwise anxious personalities. You are so right - Christ took it all on for us, so that we don't have to! Not that it lets us do whatever we want... 🤔

Great post!

Jill dijo...

Anni--it´s so funny that the part you most understood is the part I struggle most with. (Now, as I write this I realize I struggle with this on various levels.) ;)

1) the obvious "doing what he says" escapes me all the time.
2) as a Catholic convert, I have the hardest time relating to Mary. As one of the few times we have a direct quote from her in the Bible, I cling to this verse. After all, if Mary is always supposed to direct us to Jesus, this one-liner of hers (and is it the last time she´s quoted in the Gospels?) is a GREAT parting shot! ;)

So glad you enjoyed it!

StrahlenGrace dijo...

Wow This is beautiful. I'm trying to catch up with the CWBN Hop (where did a month go???) I thought of skipping to May's and forgetting blogs I didn't get to for April. I'm so glad I didn't! Your piece is truly inspiring.

A few things stood out for me, but a couple I'll mention here...
1) Jill and Anni I totally agree with both of you! That part of Mary saying "Do as He says," is deep and I hadn't realized it applies to me or thought of it as her last Gospel quote! WOW!
2) Jill, I also struggled with Mary and did a Consecration to Jesus through her, which changed everything! It was amazing!!! I ended up writing about eight posts about just that one Consecration I think! My first post was Hungering in a Cold Darkness because I was struggling so much with it! In my last piece I had amazing clarity, "coincidences," and revelation! If you can, take the opportunity to consecrate yourself through her too! God works differently in each of us, but my consecration was life changing! :)
3) I teach Confirmation class. Our last class was last night. Next week we have rehearsal and then the kids (including my 4th son) make their Confirmation Friday (prayers please!). They're still missing so much of what Confirmation is, and I am not sure how to give it to them. They don't seem to care (not my son or all the kids, but there are only 10 kids in the class and a few are from families who never step inside a Church :( ) Reading this is giving me new insight on what I can say to wrap up before the big day next week.
4) This..."But if I hadn't realized who God is and why Jesus died, Mexico would have broken me instead of mellowing me." Oh my gosh!!! If I could just substitute "sudden spousal abandonment/divorce" for Mexico, I'd steal this quote from you!!! I TOTALLY LOVE this!!!
5) I studied very briefly in Mexico (oh gosh was it really almost 30 years ago??? Wahhhhh!!!) The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe had a lot to do with my moving from lukewarmness although it was a *very* slow process - thank God He is patient! Thank you for this piece!

God Bless...

Jill dijo...

Thanks, Strahlen!

Actually, I´ve read through all your posts on your consecration process. Thank you so much for writing those down, as those posts have helped me better relate to Mary than anything else I´ve read. That image you paint of Jesus with his arm around Mary (asking, more or less, "Why can you accept me, but you can´t accept her?)--that is convicting me so much! Thanks for that!

And I´ll keep your confirmation class in my prayers! And nice to know about your Mexico connection! ;)

Emily Lee dijo...

Catching up on some of your posts. Loved this one!