Our days are so full of activities, conflicts, health issues, technological stimulation, 24/7 news cycles, social media interaction, and mix into all of this, our present pandemic and you have a mix that can lead to our emotional, physical, and spiritual undoing. If we do not have the proper foundation and orientation, we can feel stretched, hollow, and/or fatigued at best. One day can seem to blend into another, and another, and another. The image of being on a hamster wheel or an unending treadmill can fall afresh in our mind’s eye when we actually do take a minute to breathe. Anxiety, worry, stress, fear, prescriptions, and addictions all appear to be on the rise and swirling out of control.
Is there an answer to this hyper pace or are we doomed to just keep going until the wheels fall off? The opening verse in today’s reading provides an antidote when we are feeling any or all of the above.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me” (Jn 14:1).
We are invited to place our trust in God through his Son, Jesus. By putting them first does not mean that the externals to our life will take an abrupt turn for the better, but what it does mean is that we will have support and divine assistance. It means that we are not alone in our suffering. The disciples found this out when in the midst of a sudden sea squall, taking on water as the waves grew higher they were terrified and so, called to a sleeping Jesus. Jesus, awoke and with a word, he calmed the sea (cf. Mk 4:35-41).
Jesus may or may not calm the sea of our trials and tribulations, but what he will do is be present with us through our storms in life and we can trust in him that he will guide us through. As we grow more confident in our trust in Jesus, knowing that no matter who or what comes at us, he will be there to assist us. There will be more peace and calm within – no Prozac or Zoloft required. The ultimate assurance that Jesus provides is that when we surrender our life to him we belong to him, we are not alone or orphaned. He gave his life for us, to redeem and save us so that we can be assured of our home for eternity.
If we are struggling at any level and are seeking to build our trust and faith in Jesus, we do need to realize that this takes time. We need to daily ask Jesus for help, seek his discernment about where we can make changes in our life, and make periodic efforts to stop in our day to be still. This time does not need to be lengthy, three to five minutes to start can do wonders. On the surface level, by stopping for five minutes to pray and breathe more deeply and consciously, we get off the wheel, we step out of survival and reaction mode, so we can then make more mindful decisions, and we can come to see that we truly have options, but more importantly, we begin to develop a relationship and intimacy with Jesus so to begin to recognize his voice that is calling out to guide us.
For me, the Liturgy of the Hours has been my anchor, and since my time in California, I have also included meditation in the morning and evening as well. I stop to pray throughout the day, some days are better than others, some days are less rushed than others, but each day I make the time. There have been days, especially since we have begun distance learning, that I have had so much to do that I have wondered if taking the time to pray and meditate was really the most sensible choice, and time and again it has been.
The Rosary is also a great way to get into God’s word by meditating on the mysteries of the life of Jesus. If you are not able to pray the whole Rosary in one sitting, periodically pray a decade at key points throughout the day, first thing in the morning, mid-morning, mid-day, afternoon, and evening. You may start with just one decade a day.
Read for a few minutes from the Bible once in the morning and then return to meditate on the same verse or verses that touch or challenge you throughout the day. You can also read the daily Mass readings each day and place your self in the scene as if you were actually there.
Each of these practices helps to bring the Word of God alive. They are just a few of the many ways to stop the madness and to connect with the power, the love, and the grace that Jesus yearns to share with us so we may be healed, whole, and more alive. May we trust in him today and each day going forward, for he is “the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6).
Photo: My prayer anchors for helping me to trust Jesus and put God first in my life each day