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Ink Slingers

Even If

“When did I become such a worrier?” I asked my friend as we lamented various circumstances in our lives that were monopolizing our hearts and minds. She shrugged. At one time, in my circle, I was known as the calm, measured one— the one who took challenges as they came and didn’t look back with regret; or forward with worry. “She takes things in stride,” one of my supervisors stated in my employee evaluation when I was fresh out of college and ablaze with enthusiasm for my new career. Nothing seemed to bog me down.

Maybe the worrying habit started when we became parents, my friend and I surmised. Because if you ever had the notion that you had control over your life, that notion goes out the window after you have kids (can I get an Amen?).  Or maybe worry took root when I became a homeowner with a mortgage and unending bills to tackle. Or maybe worry became part of my DNA after my dad died suddenly, or when I had a miscarriage, or when the C-word began lurking in my husband’s medical charts— all times when I found myself on shaky ground that was once solid. I get it. If you have enough of those experiences, you can tend to worry about what’s around the corner. It’s the fear of “what if.”

But this I also know: When I let worry slither in under the door, (or, rather, when I march right up to the door and usher it in with great fanfare), I am turning my back on what the Lord has promised me. And you.

Our loving Lord promises that he will be there, in our tomorrow, just as he is here in our today. In fact, He’s already there! Think about that. He won’t abandon us. He is constant, everlasting, eternal. He is our Rock, our Fortress and our Stronghold! He crushes the “what ifs” with his love and peace and grace.

That means our worry is useless. It is unproductive and unnecessary. It is, dare I say it, worldly.

But, call me human, I still do it. So I need to remind myself (and perhaps you need to remind yourself too?) that even if bad things happen (and they will), Jesus will be there to help us through it. The Holy Spirit will guide us.  Something good will come of it. God will still be on His throne. Even if. Even if real and legitimate concerns arise. Even if a heartbreaking diagnosis is given. Even if a loved one is taken from us in an instant.

Even if.

When I pray during my morning prayer journaling time, I can ask for Jesus to shut down those pesky “what ifs” and instead give me the strength of “even if.” And you know what? That phrase is so much more helpful to have bouncing around in my brain. It establishes a kernel of courage deep within me. It lights a flicker of a flame. It compels me to turn to God and be not afraid. Because, even if, I will have Him. And that is all I need.

“Pray, hope and don’t worry,” said Saint Padre Pio. That’s our command, Sistas.

Even if.

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Ink Slingers Lynette Spiritual Growth

It’s Your Journey

Generally a positive, upbeat person, it takes quite a bit for me to have a “down” day. But like everyone, sometimes I’m hit with old memories of past situations or get stuck in a current situation that is proving difficult and I slip into the “Eeyore” syndrome. Confused emotions, remorse, self-blame, disappointment, resentment – either directed at myself, another person, a situation, or all three – drown out the other voices in my head.

A few weeks ago, memories of a very difficult situation I had gone through forced their way back out of the dark recesses where I had stuffed them. It was just as if it had happened yesterday. As I struggled to deal with the emotions and feelings coming at me from all angles, I mentioned some of what I was dealing with to a good friend of mine. I said I couldn’t seem to get beyond it, that I felt I was letting it “own” me. He said to me, “It’s how you allow yourself to feel…he has no control over you…at all. It’s your journey…not his.” Two simple sentences, yet deeply profound. It took me a few minutes, but it was all I had needed to hear to make the active decision to drop it. Deciding gave me freedom and that freedom allowed me to see the beauty of the moment I was in.

It’s your journey.”…. three words that have altered much of my thinking these last weeks. What decisions do I make every day that affect where my journey will take me? Because every choice I make in every minute of every day affects that journey. No person, no material thing, no situation, no place – nothing can “control” or “own” me, unless I let it. Every reaction to everything in my outer environment is completely my choice. 

The Gospel readings since Easter show how easy it is for us to get sidetracked in our journey. Mary Magdalene, overcome with sorrow and grief at the tomb, did not recognize Jesus. Two of His disciples were joined by Jesus while walking on the road to Emmaus, “but their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.” (Luke 24:16) In the Upper Room where the disciples were gathered, Jesus appeared among them, but they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost.” (Luke 24:37) And again, on the Sea of Tiberias as some of the disciples went fishing, they did not realize it was Jesus standing on the shore. 

How many times have I been so overcome with emotion I have failed to see Him? How many times has He “walked” with me, but my “eyes were prevented from recognizing Him?” How many situations have I been in where I have been so “startled or terrified” that I thought I was “seeing a ghost?” How many times have I failed to see Him when He has been simply standing in my midst?

Jesus, knowing our human frailties and difficulties in seeing the divine, knew how to approach each person in a way that they would eventually recognize Him. Mary Magdalene came to know it was Jesus when He said her name and she turned toward Him. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus came to know it was Jesus when He did what was familiar and broke bread with them. The disciples in the Upper Room recognized Him when they were shown His hands and his feet. And on the Sea of Tiberias, they realized it was Jesus when “the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.””(John 21:70)

What would our journeys be like if we made the decision to look for Him? What if we didn’t allow the thousands of things in our outside environment to dictate the direction of our journey; to look past the grief, the confusion over past events, the startle and disbelief, and our blindness to something standing right in front of us? Would we be more likely to hear Him call our name? Would we see Him in the familiar events of our lives, especially when we encounter Him in the Eucharist? Would we believe if we were shown concrete evidence that He did indeed rise from the dead? Would we come to recognize Him when someone close to us says, “It is the Lord”?  

Jesus knows what we each need to be able to recognize Him. Whatever He has in store for you is only waiting on your conscious decision to make Him part of your journey. And on that day when you do decide, be ready for a journey you never thought possible.