The adventure continues — my search for holiness in the ordinary every day that is my life. Sometimes, all the steps toward surrender to God’s Will and the peace promised therein is interrupted by anxiety. Lots of anxiety – think cross between The Mad-hatter and Eeyore.
In Mass on Sunday, as I knelt in the first pew staring intently at Jesus on the cross, when perhaps my focus should have been on the suffering of Jesus, I was instead fixated on mine. The self-induced suffering of living in a world that relies on money to live yet you lack both the skills to make it nor to manage it. Even after 25 years of marriage, and this conviction that I should know better by now, there comes a time (I’m pretty sure it is at least once a year), that I find myself staring at my bills and then at my bank account, and realizing, “Houston, we have a problem”.
As I grappled with my thoughts in an effort to ward of the imminent anxiety attack, in the midst of some very deep breaths, stirred the words of St. Paul from Philippians 4:6-7. This verse (actually the very first scripture I ever memorized), refocused my thoughts and helped me to regain momentary peace and perspective:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
In other words – stop panicking, tell God what you need (of course He already knows, but I love that He builds into our relationship this permission to ask anyway). Then thank Him for what He has done and what He will do. Bring GOD into the problem, the fear, the doubt, the dilemma and believe HE has heard and will answer it – in his way and in his time (which will be perfect whether we immediately recognize that or not). THEN allow yourself to relax, because is that not what my heart truly seeks? It seeks peace and rest — that treasure only Christ can give me.
How is this journey accomplished? According to St. Paul, it comes simply through prayer.
While, this brought me peace at the moment, the problem still remained and I wondered what my next step was. I’m a terrible human BEing…I’m much more comfortable as a human DOing. So again I found myself seeking out God, but for what? Sure, I wanted the financial mess cleaned up but treating God as my personal ATM or slot machine seemed inappropriate at best and ill-begotten at worse.
As I sat pondering my current state of mind…a quiet voice formed, a whisper, spoke to my heart:
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33 NASB); and then…
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. (Luke 12:31 NLT)
St. Josemaria Escriva summed up my thoughts best,
If only we could live with more trust in divine Providence, strong in faith, in the certainty of God’s daily protection which never fails, how many worries and anxieties we would be spared! (Friends of God, no. 116
As I made a conscious decision to put my relationship with Jesus before anything else, there was again peace. Even though I had no idea that just a few hours later God would perform a miracle in an answer to that prayer of borderline despair, I had peace.
Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. (Ps 37:5)
It does not mean that going forward I will not have to make account for my mistakes, and learn how to avoid them in the future. Seeking the kingdom doesn’t mean quitting my day job and waiting for the next miracle. The Holy Spirit has already begun to enlighten my heart as to where to go from here – and I am thanking God for what He has done and what He will do. Most of all, I am grateful for the grace of His mercy, which truly does bring me a peace that surpasses all understanding.
May now leaves only eight months until the Church celebrates A Holy Year of Mercy as announced by Pope Francis. I invite you to join me in a 9-month novena to ask God for an outpouring of grace to prepare our hearts for all the blessings awaiting us in this upcoming Holy Year of Mercy. Each month, I will post a new reflection and prayer, in great anticipation of this great Jubilee!
Dear Heavenly Father,
My mind is filled some days with more worry and anxiety than I can count. The fear of the unknown or possible outcomes halts my journey; the knowledge of your great mercy no longer brings me peace. Although I am completely aware I cannot add a moment to my life span by worrying, moving my search for you out of my mind and into my heart can be muddled. Though my mind says the words from Scripture — to trust in you, wait on you, or remind me you will never forsake nor abandon me, allowing these to penetrate my fearful heart is not always easy. My mind tries to make sense, but my heart believes, so I will continue to seek with my heart. I will seek your kingdom, and I will put that quest first.
And we ask all this in Your Son’s most precious name, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Copyright 2015, Allison Gingras