Readings for today: Isaiah 49:14-15; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34
So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Every week’s readings to date have been on point lately. Maybe that’s just because I’ve started to pay even greater attention to God’s word, or maybe because this is an issue that truly is important in my life and something that God needed to reveal to me in the depths of my own heart.
2016 was a difficult year for me. I received an abundance of blessings throughout the year, but I also had some difficult mountains to climb. In particular, my biggest and most daunting mountain was that of my anxiety and suicide.
My anxiety was at an all time high during 2016, fearing that my friends would turn against me, that I would fail everything that I touched, that I would disappoint my family and that I was going nowhere in my life. Nothing was working out in the way that I wanted it to, and I had taken it upon myself to think that it was because I was simply a bad person that didn’t deserve good things.
I am a worrier. I worried a lot last year about things that, in the end, required no worrying whatsoever. It took me until the new year to realize that all of this was because I lacked humility.
Because of this, 2017 has become my year of humility.
Can any of you, however much you worry, add one single cubit to your span of life?
When I heard this quote from the Gospel of Matthew today at mass, it really put into perspective the extent to which my worrying had led me to constant panic attacks, depression and heightened anxiety. Instead of adding to life, I was subtracting from it. A lot of time was spent worrying instead of trusting. I can honestly and humbly say now that I didn’t trust God at all, and my distrust didn’t help my position at all.
One of my favourite scripture quotes comes from the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:11):
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I am a control freak who likes to plan things out and know what is to come. But the amazing thing is that I don’t have to worry about what is to come, because God has my back. He knows what I need, and He will move mountains if He has to. He will never lead me astray and will always help me regain my footing when I stumble.
This brings about two things that people may challenge:
Just because God has our back, it doesn’t mean that we should be passive. We still need to be actively choosing Christ every day. We need to meet Him halfway and consider Him in all the aspects of our daily life. He will move mountains for us and give us what we need, but we need to show Him that we choose Him.
Just because God has a plan, it doesn’t mean that we are not given a choice. I had this conversation with a friend once about God’s divine providence and how He has a path for me. In return she asked me how I felt about being “boxed in” to a plan written by someone who I’ve never met. It certainly is a valid conception to have, and I know that I personally have thought that before when this truth had been shared with me. God has written out our story and He knows how things will pan out, but because He loves us, He still gives us the choice to run to Him or run away from Him. He gives us the opportunity to choose Him. In the same way that you can’t force someone to love you, God doesn’t box us in and force us to love Him. We are given that choice to make our own decisions every day, and the ones that choose Him will be the ones that make you feel amazing inside – and you will know exactly what I’m talking about when you make those choices!
With that said, I choose this year (and for life) to put God at the center of my life and my decisions. It will definitely be difficult sometimes, particularly with those decisions where I want a specific outcome to work out in my favour. But if it is meant to be, then God will make it happen. And if that door closes, it’s because somewhere down the line, there is another door waiting for me with something greater on the other side.
And He wants that for you, too!
St. Padre Pio, pray for us.
(Lead image: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/creed-work-no-890-dont-worry-ar01149)