The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
I said I was going to post pictures today, but why start breaking my habit of breaking blog promises before the new year?
I think I have posted this before:
Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me--still He knows what He is about.
I cannot tell you how many times I repeat these lines to myself during the course of a week. Actually, just the line about perplexity will do. I am always perplexed.
When I first encountered Anxiety, as a cloaked and stealthy full armored force, I immediately turned to God. What else, what other power could make it stop? I couldn't think of anything else. But it didn't stop. I was in Switzerland. I took the train by myself to Lucerne and walked from the train station to Lake Geneva. It was this time of year- bitter cold, clear skies, glittering water. I walked as far as I could from any other person, I sat down on a rock where the lake was so wide it filled in my peripheral vision and I told God how very exhausted I was, and could he please help? I have never ever clung to God like I did that day in Lucerne, but I was still anxious.
I got much better after that winter. I learned all sorts of things to help me manage things and it disappeared nearly as quickly as it arrived. I didn't count on it coming back, but it did. If the first time was an instant incineration and a swift rebuilding, this time is more of a long slog through a dark wet jungle, always moving towards open sky, but sometimes lurching into the mud. And God? He's good for impassioned pleas for assistance when I drive to work in the morning, a deep breath before I prepare to fall asleep. That's been working. I am fairly experienced, now, in managing myself.
The other day I got an email where someone was quoted: "Resist the urge to manage your pain."
What is the first thing I turn to when I'm anxious? God? Not likely. Having never been much of a help, he ranks somewhat low in my arsenal of anti-anxiety weapons. But something was pulling at me. It'd been so long since I tried. So the other night when my heart was racing and the potential sleepless night juxtaposed with my seven a.m. meeting made my stomach lurch, I said to God, "Fine. YOU manage my pain."
My anxiety did not go away. I was awake another hour or two, waiting for it to pass. But I waited patiently. I wasn't worried. I wasn't upset. I was a world apart from a body unable to halt its own adrenaline production. And I woke up in time for my meeting, tired and splotchy faced, but not particularly aggravated by my restless night. I stared at the tiles in the shower thinking, "This is what he means when he says, 'Do not be afraid, I am with you.'"
But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine. When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior.
I am a Catholic. It is a Catholic thing to "offer up" whatever you have, for the glory of the Kingdom, for the pagan babies, for the souls in purgatory. I've always considered it to be a sort of ridiculous concept: what could I possibly offer up from my average ordinary everydayness? How can one person's suffering make any difference? What is it for? Am I donating my own suffering in hopes that someone else's grief will lessen? But recently I've decided to do it anyway. I I'm not even sure what it means, but the next time I can't sleep, I will turn to God first and I will offer it up. I may even agree to experience it instead of begging to escape it. My perplexity, my anxiety, even, may serve him.