Your final letter affected me enormously. I’m sorry to listen to of your current struggles with nervousness and the way paralyzing it’s for you at instances. To say that this can be a heavy cross can be an understatement! Of all of the issues you will have shared with me through the years, this appears to be probably the most difficult and tough cross you will have needed to carry. Let me start by expressing how sorry I’m that you’re going by means of this! Evidently, I’ll proceed to wish for you, particularly as you try and navigate by means of this darkish cloud.
Sadly, or possibly fortuitously on this state of affairs, nervousness is one thing I’ve recognized firsthand. Once I was a young person I struggled so much with nervousness for a number of years. At instances it was so paralyzing that I actually didn’t understand how I might make it by means of the day. For me, the foundation trigger of tension was a deep feeling of inadequacy earlier than life. I felt incompetent in the beginning, whether or not it was faculty, sports activities, or deciding what to do with my future. Since I believed that I couldn’t do something, I turned anxious earlier than life. Fortunately, I can actually say that the load of this cross has been lifted a bit, but at instances it nonetheless rears its ugly head.
What I want to share with you on this letter are merely some ideas about growing a “spirituality in direction of nervousness.” I’m not a psychologist and have little or no coaching in psychology, due to this fact I’m unqualified to talk to you as a psychologist or counselor. With out denying the significance of psychology and the opposite social sciences, I can solely converse to you, Brian, as a fellow disciple and one who has struggled on this space as nicely. With this in thoughts, let me start.
Jesus tells us within the Gospel, “Don’t be concerned about your life…Take a look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor collect into barns and but your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of extra worth than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life”(Matthew 6:25-26). These highly effective phrases of Jesus have each challenged me and consoled me through the years. You will need to acknowledge that Jesus just isn’t telling us to disregard our life, or that our emotions, sufferings, and trials are irrelevant. Moderately, Jesus is reminding every certainly one of us that, regardless of what we might expertise in life, we’re recognized, liked, and being held within the Father’s arms each second of our life.
Your first response to this can be certainly one of disbelief. “Each second of my life I’m being held within the Father’s arms? What about this case, or this painful reminiscence, or this circumstance, you could ask? The place was God then?” These are good and trustworthy questions that one should ask. Nonetheless, they require not merely human reasoning and evaluation, however deep prayer and reflection. But earlier than we even start to ask such questions we should keep in mind a vital attribute about God: His best solutions to our questions usually come not by means of his phrases, however by means of his presence.
The Crucifixion of Jesus reveals this most profoundly I imagine. On the cross, Jesus skilled in his personal humanity our emotions of being deserted and forgotten by God. His cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34) has been echoed all through historical past by numerous individuals who have suffered, inflicting many to lose religion in a God who is aware of us, loves us, and sustains us each second of our life. But, what does the crucifixion disclose to us? Not the absence of God, however the overwhelming presence of God! Can we not imagine that on Good Friday, probably the most dreadful day in human historical past, God the Father was current shining his mild, love and mercy by means of such obvious darkness?
Salvation, a lot to our astonishment, doesn’t come when every part and everybody is ideal, however when every part, fairly actually, is at its worst!
The purpose I’m trying to make is solely this: there’s extra to actuality than what we are able to see or really feel. Whether or not we’re fighting nervousness, dependancy, loneliness, and so on, it might be fallacious to interrupt these difficult circumstances as proof of God’s absence. St. Paul tells us, “Rejoice within the Lord at all times…and “don’t have any nervousness about something” (Philippians 4:4-6). St Paul, as you already know, was a person who had a lot to be concerned about. Nonetheless, like Jesus, he’s not telling us to disregard our nervousness or that it doesn’t actually exist, however moderately he’s reminding us that there’s extra past it. What finally is past our nervousness? The presence of God who, although we can’t at all times understand it, is loving us and sustaining us each second of our existence.
One of many causes that is so tough for us is as a result of we are inclined to imagine the tales nervousness (or any battle we’re coping with) would really like us to imagine. For instance, due to your current struggles with nervousness you at the moment are questioning God’s love for you, the validity of your prayer life, and whether or not or not you need to even go on retreat subsequent month. The place do these ideas come from?
Doubting God’s love, your relationship with him and the chance for higher intimacy by means of a week-long retreat can’t be the voice of God. Every certainly one of these ideas contradicts precisely what Jesus says! They’re the outcome, not of listening to God’s phrase, however of listening to the lies that nervousness would really like you to imagine.
What every certainly one of us must do is cease drawing conclusions primarily based totally on our ideas and emotions, particularly when our ideas and emotions don’t coincide with the fact that Jesus reveals. We robotically assume that if we’re pondering or feeling one thing, it should be true. Nonetheless, on this case, every certainly one of your ideas and emotions has led to a false conclusion. Why? As a result of nervousness has tricked you to imagine that you’re nervousness. What Jesus reveals about you is that you’re a baby of God at the beginning, who merely struggles with nervousness.
We should not, after all, repress or ignore our ideas and emotions, nevertheless, we can’t give them the authority and energy to inform us who we’re. It’s one factor to say, ‘I really feel anxious or I really feel insufficient,” and fairly one other to say, “I’m anxious, or I’m insufficient.” Sadly, I’ve spent a few years dwelling because the particular person nervousness has advised me I’m versus the particular person Jesus has advised me I’m. Regardless of my very own poverty and sins and all of the trials and struggles I’ve confronted in my life, the Lord regularly jogs my memory that I’m none of these items. Once I ask him who I’m, his response is at all times the identical, “Jeremiah, you’re my son.” I pray that God will proceed to remind you of the identical!
You could have requested me if I feel you want counseling. A normal rule I used to be at all times advised is that one ought to search counseling when a selected situation is stopping them from totally taking part in life, whether or not that happens in a single’s work, household or relationships. Personally, I’m satisfied that most individuals, in some unspecified time in the future of their life, may benefit from counseling. There are various methods to come across God’s grace and counseling has confirmed to be an avenue of grace for many individuals. In the event you do determine to hunt it out, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Moderately, your braveness and dedication to confront this situation is an indication that you’re one step nearer to freedom. Within the meantime, be assured of my prayers for you.
Sincerely in Christ,
This put up was first printed on From the Friars and is reprinted right here with permission.
Photograph courtesy of the Neighborhood of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and @martin.jernberg.