A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘worrying

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Yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery; today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.

~ Unknown

For some of us, the high school or college years seem to have been the best time of our lives. We had fewer responsibilities and worries about family, health issues, bills, and so on. Maybe it’s more that we had dreams, hopes and plans that we knew would be realized in the future or that we liked who we were back then.

I know that I had certain educational and career goals; maybe I was also a bit quicker to forgive, less guarded, more optimistic. Not everything turned out the way I planned, and in nostalgic moments, that bothers me.

Those who, like me, can get caught up in the past could take a cue from these words of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, quoted in the “Celebrate January 2015” column in the January/February issue of Catholic Digest:

When we yield to discouragement or despair it is usually because we give too much thought to the past and to the future.

Do we focus too much on our regrets—the goals and dreams we didn’t achieve—and on the people we were rather than appreciate the ways we’ve succeeded and how much we’ve grown? Do we worry too much about whether we’ll get where we want to go?

We need to remember two things. First, whatever we may plan, God has his own plans for us—good plans—as he reminds us in Jeremiah 29:11*:

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

And second, as Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:31-35, worrying about the future is futile, for everything is in God’s hands and each day has cares enough of its own:

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For…your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

When we find ourselves dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, may we pray that God would show us his will for us today, guide us in his plans for our tomorrows, and care for us as our Father always.

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

Some activities—like bungee jumping, outdoor rock climbing and hang gliding—just aren’t for the faint of heart.

My additions to that list? Watching World War Z if you’ve ever experienced motion sickness (I found it was touch and go for a while), or giving up coffee.

I recently gave up coffee and other caffeine sources for close to a week so I could have my nose pierced. (You might wonder why I’d want to do either of those things, but that isn’t really the point.) The first thing was a small sacrifice to make the second possible—and it was the second that scared me. In the end, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, and it was over. Not only did I discover that my fear was out of proportion to the discomfort I felt, but I also benefitted from better sleep after cutting my caffeine intake.

So how does this relate to faith issues? We worry about the sacrifices we might need to make, about stepping outside our comfort zone, about whether we have the courage to take that step. And we don’t realize how we magnify our fears or consider how we might benefit by going forward. I say this as a veteran worrier.

Have you ever found yourself in situations like these?

  • You feel that God is calling you to a new job or ministry…but you’re afraid of the changes saying “yes” could lead to.
  • Your friends are critical of the Church…but you’re scared of their reaction if you defend the Church’s position on an issue.
  • Your child is approaching the dating years…but you’re nervous about how to launch the important conversations on Church teachings that you need to have.

We need to remember that God doesn’t ask us to tackle our concerns in our own strength. He reminds us that worrying can’t help us (see Matthew 25:25-33). That we need to give our concerns to him (see 1 Peter 5:7) and that we can do all things in Christ who strengthens us (see Philippians 4:13). That Jesus will be with us always (see Matthew 28:20).

Sometimes we need to close our eyes; take a deep breath and pray to God for the guidance, wisdom and courage to make that change, stand up for our faith, or have that difficult conversation; and then move forward in God’s strength. We might find ourselves wishing that we’d spent less time worrying and more time reaping the benefits of stepping into a new role, clearing the air, or guiding our children in making good choices. And we might just inspire a family member, friend or colleague to follow suit.


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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