Archive for the ‘anxiety’ Category

Submit, obey, surrender – are these really bad words?

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Here are the readings for today.
Ephesians 5:21-33; Psalm 128:1-5; Luke 13:18-21

Here is the Divine Office – click on Office of Readings.

Submit. Obey. Surrender. These words appeared again and again in both the daily readings and the Divine Office, Office of Readings. Here are some examples:

Antiphons from the Divine Office (from Psalm 37):

  • Surrender to God, and he will do everything for you.
  • Turn away from evil, learn to do God’s will; the Lord will strengthen you if you obey him.
  • Wait for the Lord to lead, then follow in his way.

And today’s first reading from Ephesians is the famous (or infamous) passage about submission and specifically, wives submitting to their husbands:

Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of his wife
just as Christ is head of the Church,
he himself the savior of the Body.
As the Church is subordinate to Christ,
so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.

Words like submit, obey and surrender are considered dirty words, especially in American society where rugged individualism, acquiring wealth and power, and making it to the top no matter what are of primary importance to so many. For women especially, these are fighting words (understandable since women have known oppression all over the world for so long, and so many still do).

What’s often missed, however,  is verse 21 which comes just before that section:

Brothers and sisters:
Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.

This here is the key. Submit, obey and surrender don’t have the same meanings when applied to God. As is so common in the Christian life, things are not as they appear. In the world these words bring to mind slavery, captivity, restraint, limitation, imprisonment or subjection. In the eyes of God, submit, obey and surrender actually mean true freedom.

If I am to be subordinate to the Lord, I must learn to trust Him. Trust is not learned overnight, especially if your trust has been betrayed by those you love. I need to be intimate relationship with God and pursue Him constantly. As that relationship grows, I find that my desire to be subordinate grows too because I learn to trust Him.

A few years ago, anxiety over our finances ruled my life. I would wake up at 4am and worry myself sick until it was time to get up. I would make myself physically sick because of worry. I also disrupted the lives of my family members because of that worry.

I pursued a relationship with God but did not understand at the time about subordinating myself to Him. He in his graciousness showed me how even when I didn’t directly ask for it. Slowly He transformed me and in time, I learned to let go of my worries; I stopped trying to control every aspect of my life. In return, I found a deep and lasting peace – freedom from my worry -  which I wouldn’t trade for the world.

When I had my worry replaced by His peace, my relationships with family members improved, especially with my husband. I began to learn what sacrificial love was and desired to practice it. We became subordinate to each other our of our love for Christ.

Submit, obey and surrender are no longer dirty words to me. God has transformed their meaning for me into something beautiful and very desirable.

Sharing in suffering and consolation – reflection on the Divine Office morning prayer, September 20

Monday, September 20th, 2010

I was struck today by the short reading included in the Divine Office morning prayer:

Praised be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation! He comforts us in all our afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation we have received from him. As we have shared much in the suffering of Christ, so through Christ do we share abundantly in his consolation.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I immediately thought of my dear friend whom I take communion to every Tuesday. She endures much suffering but freely shares how God consoles her through that suffering. It always amazes me how she is able to hang on, and not just hold on, but keep trying. She leads a life full of purpose even though she can do little physically.

Someone in her shoes could so easily become bitter and be blinded by the suffering. But my friend is open, looking for, asking, expecting God’s consolation. And because of that, she offers consolation to others. I know that is certainly true for me. Every week I learn something new from her which deepens my understanding of the faith. She says that I console her too – I do all I can.

I remember last year when my husband Rich was laid off. This was a second layoff for him but we opted to trust in God and support each other, and not allow worry to undo us. At that time, I felt so much consolation from God that I just had to share it, and that’s when I produced a limited podcast series called “How Can I Keep from Singing” as part of the  Marian Cenacle Rosary Podcast. In this series, I freely shared what was going on in my life and how I leaned on God, trusting Him to see us through. I knew there were a lot of people out there like us and I wanted to let people know that trusting in God does help. My husband didn’t land a job immediately – we were on unemployment for 4 months – and I’d be a liar if I said there were no bumps in the road along the way. But for some reason, God graced both of us tremendously with confidence and we remained calm and peaceful throughout the layoff.

2 Corinthians 21:3-4 is something I have truly lived and I can tell you, is possible for anyone so long as you don’t let your suffering blind you to God’s goodness. Surrendering your sorrow to God is essential – He must be allowed to lead the way.

Reflection on the Divine Office morning prayers for Sept. 6

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Sometimes I hurt inside thinking of all the people I know whose hearts have hardened like concrete against the Lord. They are good people, they just don’t want to know Him. I read this canticle from Isaiah and think of them:

Canticle — Isaiah 2:2-5
The mountain of the Lord’s dwelling towers above every mountain
All peoples shall come and worship in your presence (Revelation 15:4).

In days to come,
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.

All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”

For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.

O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord!

But as I read through the morning prayers today I could feel the Lord saying to me that if my concern for those members of my family and my friends turns to anxiety and disturbs my peace, that this is not of Him. It shows that I don’t trust in His ultimate plan. It is not my job to save anyone, that is for Jesus to do! I have no power on my own.

I love to plan things, to fix things. My kids especially say that I never just listen, that I always have to offer advice. It’s a compulsive thing, wanting to fix everything.

But God wants me to lay aside that compulsion. Yes, I can fix some things, but I can’t fix everything. Why not leave it to the One who can?

The best thing I can do to help those who don’t know Him is to focus squarely on Him. This is why the Two Great Commandments start with “You shall the love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” I must let HIM do the work. My role is to follow the Lord as closely as I can and let His light shine through me. That light will attract those I love, not anything I can do. I can’t make that light shine through my actions. Only surrendering fully to the Lord will cause that light to shine.

My heart will still burn for my loved ones to know Him, but I must rest in the Lord, immerse myself in Him, and let Him shine His light through me. I must step aside.

Reflections on the Sunday readings, September 5

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

It was almost like God was chattering in my head as I read, so many things came to mind today!

Before my reflections, here are the readings:

Wisdom 9:13-18, Psalm 90:3-6,12-17, Philemon 9-10,12-17, Luke 14:25-33

The reading from Wisdom seemed to fit nicely with the Psalm. Wisdom speaks of how hard it is even to figure out what’s going on here on earth, never mind heaven! It speaks of our souls, burdened by the corruption of our bodies, and our minds are filled with worldly concerns. How can we ever hope to perceive the thoughts of God who is so far above all of this because of His perfection? Are we just to mire in earth’s chaos?

But then the refrain to the psalm brings that hope:  In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

While I am no student of history, I do love it and see more and more how important it is to remember our history so as to give perspective to the present and the future. The world today seems out of control and on the brink of disaster, but this is hardly the only time this has been the case! If we just go back less than 100 years to the Great Depression and then WWII, certainly the chaos in the world was every bit as bad as it is now. But in that age, just as in this age, God is our refuge.

I used to really stress out over money because we always seemed to come up short. I’d wake up in the pre-dawn hours and worry myself sick before getting out of bed, and I faced each day with dread. My husband used to keep reminding me that “God always takes care of us.” I used to sweep that notion away, saying that he was burying his head in the sand, but he was right! When I finally took stock of my life and reviewed my own life history, I saw that yes, in every age of our lives, God had been our refuge.

I could never figure out what to do nor could I easily discern God’s will. But when I finally surrendered my anxieties to Him and let Him be my refuge, then I was healed totally of all my money fears. Praise be to God! He is indeed, our refuge.