-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.