This has been a challenging summer, one of the worst I can remember: challenges in my own life, difficulties in our country, and the scandals reported about the Catholic Church have made me feel like everything is an uphill battle. Many folks have shared with me that they feel the same way. Things are changing so quickly!
Even if we didn’t have such particular challenges, we know that the Archbishop’s pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel (which you can see here) is actually calling all of us to change: to get out of our comfort zones and become better disciples, which will truly make us more happy. We have likely heard the saying: “Change is the only constant.” That is very true, but nobody ever said it was gonna be easy! The good news is that we have muddled through it, survived it, and sometimes even celebrated it. We celebrate it when it is something we want, but when it’s change we didn’t ask for, the loss of control can feel SCARY. When confronted with change we do not expect, we often respond in two ways: fight or flight. Let me add a third one: freeze. When we are confronted with something we perceive as dangerous, our feelings of fear can force us to stand our ground (fight), run away (flight), or enter into an overall denial about the situation (freeze).
As humans, we like the world to be the way we have always perceived it to be. So when life throws us a curveball, we may perceive the situation inaccurately. We can take things too personally (it’s only happening to me); permanently (it will be like this forever); or pervasively (it’s ruined my entire life). Fortunately, when we calm down we often times realize that other people are going through the same thing; it’s only temporary; and that our lives are still enjoyable.
Why am I sharing all this? Like you, I am always attempting to get control of my ‘crazy’ life and to discern what Jesus is asking of me. Over the last few months, I seemed to be getting worse. I want to be a better pastor/rector for you, and a better disciple to our Lord. Rather than continue to spiral, I have begun to acknowledge my fears in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. The Lord has helped me feel safer and implement steps to get my life better under control. So what do we do when faced with change?
- Focus on the solution, not the problem. Don’t waste time or energy on blame. Get as much information about the current reality as possible and expand your thinking to consider as many logical options to deal with it as possible.
- Trust that the Lord is working. There are no coincidences. Ask yourself, What opportunities has this change created? How can we turn this situation to our advantage? What is the Lord trying to teach me?
- Remember you are not alone; the Lord is always with each of us. Take that leap of faith and do what He is asking/commanding. This is scary, but it works!
- Finally: pray, pray, and then pray. I used to be stressed and worried all the time. I forced myself to go to Jesus and share it all with Him. He has helped me to relax, and He wants to help you, too.