I’m sure I’m not the only one who has plenty to worry about in daily life. Worry seems to be one of those things you just can’t get away from. As soon as we let go of one worry, another comes along. Major worries take priority, but when those run out, there are plenty of trivial ones to fill their place. I can worry about world peace, the future of this nation, and whether or not there’s too much fluoride in my toothpaste all in the same breath. I worry about catastrophes that never take place (thank heaven!) but certainly do drain a lot of mental energy as I envision every possible ending to the story. I second-guess things that I can’t change and aren’t that important anyway in the grand scheme of things. I worry that there just isn’t enough of me to go around enough for my family and people I care about.
Sometimes it helps me to step back for a minute and remember where God is in all of this:
- Richer than any employer
- More just and merciful than any judge
- A better healer than any doctor
- Wiser than any teacher
- More loving than any parent
- Closer than any spouse
- “One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
God isn’t a magical solution to human problems. But he is the solid rock that sustains us through everything and reminds us that, whether things work out the way we want them to or stretch us to our limits, everything works for the good of those who love God. No, this isn’t mean to be an encouragement to “just get over it” or minimalize the very real stress and challenges we face in life, but to remember that they never have the final word.
And that prayer is real. It works. Even if it’s simple repetition of a mantra like “Lord have mercy” or “Jesus I trust in you”. It might not relieve whatever situation is causing your worry, but it can go a long way in reestablishing something essential:
PEACE. Peace of mind and heart and soul.
Peace brings back our ability to hear God and to discover where he is leading us through different situations. It enables us to accept ourselves, accept our reality and become a greater reflection of God.
What are some ways we can move away from worries and toward peace?
- Increase our confidence in God.
- Remember that our worth doesn’t lie in what we can or can’t do, but in who we are. As John Paul II reminds us, “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us.”
- Try the daily examen – it’s a simple way of putting life into perspective and looking at it through the lens of God’s love for us. It encourages us not to deny hard realities, but to accept them and put them in their rightful place, neither suppressing them nor giving them undue importance.
- Talk to God about what worries you.
- Turn to the sacraments on a regular basis.
- Take time to do things that help you regain peace of mind: take a walk, read a good book, go for a run, [fill in the blank with whatever helps you…].
- Benefit from what we’ve learned about how the human brain works. Learn about the amygdala, how emotional thinking affects stress and anxiety, and things you can do about it.
[All of us experience a degree of stress in life, and this post is meant to help focus on balancing common stressors in life. It does not replace medical or clinical advice. If you have an inordinate amount of stress, can’t seem to overcome it, or have other reason to believe you are suffering from depression, an anxiety disorder or other possible mental health condition, refer to a mental health specialist for guidance.]