That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.”
– Chinese Proverb
Anxiousness has journeyed with me for as long as I can remember, for various reasons, becoming crippling at certain points in my life as I endured tremendous personal and inescapable hurdles. I’ve wasted many hours of my life wishing I was more nonchalant, blasé, even less caring, hoping I would one day wake up and naturally be easy-going, unfettered, and without the constant heavy-laden feel of the chains of angst and emotion dragging me down. After too many years of resistance, I’ve fully accepted all that I am: sensitively hardwired, overly empathetic, easily bothered by difficult matters, worn thin by tending to others and ignoring myself, overly attached, and emotionally driven. No longer do I care or agree that these traits of mine are flaws—they are not—even if these characteristics set me up to be more prone to anxiety, worry, and distress.
Parenting has surely contributed a new dimension to my anxious state by adding more fears to grip my mind and cling upon my heart. One of my greatest wishes for my children is that they are freed of any type of ongoing anxiety and worry about nonsense. Living free of the type of anxiety that has plagued me would enhance their happiness quotas and ensure they are living their best lives, peacefully. The innocent, beautiful, impressionable hearts and minds of my children are one of the prime reasons I’ve been working so hard for so many years to eradicate the disease of worry in my own life. If I can conquer this feat with my faith as the guiding light, then I know in my heart of hearts I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.
Along with the strength, love, and support of my endearing husband, I also have an amazing therapist in my corner. With each consecutive appointment, I’m learning to loosen the grips of control, worry, and anxious despair and improving upon my ability to cling on to hope, love, and the promises of my faith. But, man. It’s a daily struggle.
“Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.” – Henry Ward Beecher
Last month, as I began contemplating my 2019 Lenten journey, I kept envisioning being set free from my anxieties, no longer shackled by the chains of fear, finally wearing the wings of freedom instead of continually fretting about the past and over the future. Longing for the ability to remain in the present and to take on the mountain I’ve been slowly ascending my entire life, I made the decision to give myself the gift of tackling my biggest roadblock to happiness: the trifecta of control, worry, and fear of the unknown.
Most of us who are anxious by nature like to be in control. When we face a situation that is beyond our control, we often begin to worry.” – Gary Zimak
Being the reader that I am, I began searching for a self-paced Lenten guide. My research led me to Gary Zimak’s Give Up Worry for Lent. It happened that shortly after it was revealed to me worry was all I needed to sacrifice this Lent, I was in the Marian Gift Shop of my church home, and Mr. Zimak’s book was set out for the Lenten display. Without hesitation, I bought the book then and there. As I was driving to an exercise class only a few days later, I heard Mr. Zimak speaking on the local Catholic radio station to promote his book and take calls from listeners on the very topic of worry. (I thought my anxious state was rare. Unfortunately, it seems as if I’m part of a majority group, sadly so.) For all these reasons, I knew my quiet contemplation (a result of my Lenten focus from last year) brought me to the right focus for my inner-state this year. I’m a flawed individual, yet wonderfully made, and I’m trying to harmonize all that I am made to be.
I’d love to know (please comment):
What is your Lenten focus this year?
What areas of your inner-being would you like to refine, refocus, or renew?
What has been your greatest Lenten sacrifice?
“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
– Winston Churchill