A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘stress

Put your hand in the hand of the man

Who stilled the water

Put your hand in the hand of the man

Who calmed the sea

~ “Put Your Hand in the Hand,” written by Gene MacLellan

I admit it: I’m no sailor. I love looking at the ocean, swimming in it, or smelling the salty air by the water, but choppy waters or a rocking boat make my head spin and my stomach churn.

Sometimes the challenges we face can make us feel like we’re out on a rough sea, with no safe harbour close by. We might react physically to the stress with nausea or dizziness and worry that we’ll never touch solid ground again.

That’s where our faith comes in.

Think about this passage in Matthew 8:24-27*:

And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but [Jesus] was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

The disciples feared for their lives because of the waves that threatened to swamp their boat, but when they cried out to Jesus, he calmed the storm.

No matter what crisis we face, God offers us shelter from the storm. He hears our prayers and answers them, though not always in the way we would like or expect. He can bring peace to our hearts and keep the waves from overwhelming us.

Over the past few months, I’ve felt like I’ve been fighting a losing battle against the waves. But lately the waters have been a little calmer. My son will soon be finished exams. A loved one fighting cancer is nearly done his chemo treatments. I’ll be starting a new job soon, with appropriate work clothes (thanks to Dress for Success). I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for ten years, and I feel strong enough to take on the challenge of balancing the demands of my job and home life. And I have more love and support around me than I could have hoped for.

I’ve held onto my faith despite my worry and feelings of being overwhelmed. I’ve kept praying and going to Mass when all I could do was just be there. And God is bringing me through it all.

I pray that, if we feel like we’re never going to reach the shore, we would stop struggling against the waves and ask God to guide us there.

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, 2nd Catholic Edition.)

Little things seemed to pile up and sit right on my shoulders this week.

My car went in for repairs on Monday, but the part didn’t come till Wednesday and wasn’t installed until today. As I drove home, I was actually happy to be able to go grocery shopping—although I did my best impression of a whirling dervish as I rushed to finish before picking my son up from football practice.

My senior cat threatened to use the unfinished area in the basement as a litter box last night and I frantically scraped the actual box so he’d use that instead.

My son was home sick yesterday. Today, we couldn’t find the form for school photos and the shirt my son wanted to wear wasn’t clean.

And so I wasn’t as patient or polite with the service advisor at the auto shop as I should have been and found myself apologizing today. And when my husband phoned as I picked up groceries, I suspect I was a little abrupt.

With school, work and extracurricular activity routines in full swing, I imagine many of us are feeling stressed out and looking hopefully at the calendar to pinpoint the next long weekend. (Note: it’s just three weeks away.)

But if we wish the days away, we miss out on what’s happening now.

cat in sun patch

Skittles, appreciating a sun patch

Sometimes we need to push away the stress with a side order of worry and ask God to help us see the small blessings.

For instance, I’m glad the weather is sunny and feels a bit warmer today. I’m glad to have a car to drive and a restocked fridge again. I’m glad my Skittles is still a feisty and happy 13-year-old cat (don’t let his crabby meow fool you). I’m glad my son feels better today—and we can always get a photo retake if necessary. I’m even glad I have dish soap again so I can tackle those hand-wash-only dishes!

I pray that we would take a minute on one of those Calgon-take-me-away days to think about the small blessings in our lives and thank God for sending them.

happy English bulldog

Molly, happy to have us home

Besides everyday chores, errands and lessons, my schedule for the week includes options night at one of the high schools my son is considering, preparation for a confirmation meeting and retreat, and the actual meeting and one-day retreat.

It’s the kind of week I almost don’t want to open my planner since every day has some notes scribbled in it.

As I added more activities to the planner, I wondered, “How am I going to have enough energy to get through the week?” I felt drained just thinking about it. And hoped I’d get adequate sleep to help me keep on keeping on.

Whether it’s days packed with business travel, meetings and appointments, our children’s activities, or preparation for a family vacation or a visit from out-of-town relatives, we all have these busy weeks. And so we make plans to keep going:

  • We’ll try to get enough rest each night.
  • We’ll stick to our workout schedule for stress relief.
  • We’ll take vitamins and try to prepare meals in advance so we make good food choices.
  • We’ll let some regular chores go for the week and focus on our must-do list.

All of these are great ideas for coping with stress. But do we also think to lean on God?

We need to remember that, just as he knows we worry about meeting our physical needs and he provides for them (see Matthew 6:25-34*), God also knows that we need to draw strength from time spent in his presence:

  • reading the Bible;
  • praying the rosary—even just one decade;
  • going to an early Mass or a service at noon near our home or workplace;
  • listening to some worship music; or
  • taking a few moments to be still with God.

This morning, I made the time to read the Bible, which I’d missed doing the past few days, and I came across Psalm 59:17:

O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,

for you, O God, are my fortress,

the God who shows me mercy.

And in searching for other passages about being strengthened by God, I found these and other verses on BibleStudyTools.com:

  • The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. (Psalm 118:14)
  • He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. (Isaiah 40:29)
  • I can do all things in him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

I pray that we would remember our best source of strength not only when we are in crisis mode but also when we feel overwhelmed by the hectic pace of life.

I love you, O LORD, my strength.

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer,

my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

~ Psalm 18:1-2

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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