Monday, October 06, 2008

God Doesn't Wish us to be Anxious

I recently quoted a part of yesterday's second reading, but thought it was worth returning to the entire passage - which seems so relevant to... well, just about everything. Here's the reading in its entirety (Philippians 4:6-9):
Brothers and Sisters: Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Magnificat Magazine also had this related tidbit in their evening prayer for last night:

Cast all your worries upon [God] because he cares for you. (cf. 1 PT 5:7)

Anxiety focuses our attention on ourselves. Saint Paul proposes that we drive it out by turning to God in prayer "in all things." Then we will be ruled by the peace that frees us to bear good fruit through love for God and our neighbor.
It's so easy to get carried away with worries. Even when no huge crises loom over us (or perhaps especially when no huge crisis looms over us - crises have a way of putting everything into perspective!), we worry about whether we're doing everything we're "supposed" to do for our children and for our families and even for the world. The expectations are often outrageous!

We have to turn to God in simplicity and trust and remember that he doesn't want us to all be cookie-cutter images of some other family that seems to be doing everything perfectly (which is likely an erroneous impression from a distance anyway). What we're supposed to do is keep plugging away, doing the little things with love and continue being there for our children, and not be anxious about appearances.

I've always found it comforting to reflect upon the diversity of the saints. Our modern way of thinking confuses and twists us into, for example, being disappointed if a child isn't able to stand up to the paradigm of what modern society admires in a young person. The modern world admires strength, physical beauty, brains, popularity (not all bad in and of themselves of course). Our faith shows us something else - that God works with human weakness to bring about His beautiful will whenever and wherever we choose to cooperate with Him. I think it's when we start to mistake ourselves for the architects, rather than the workers, of His plans that we fall into anxiety.


Suzanne Temple said...

These are beautiful thoughts, Alicia and very comforting. Thank you.

Jennifer said...

Very beautiful! And a perfect start to my morning. Thank you.

Willa said...

Those recent readings have been timely for me, too. I think those are good thoughts on them, and bring to the surface some things I have been reflecting on.