You probably don't joke about having OCD. You probably don't have to take pictures of your stove so that when you wonder, an hour later, if you shut it off - you don't have to go back to look. And I'm sure you don't ever turn around halfway to work just to double check that your straightener, which you haven't used since December, is unplugged and safely tucked in a drawer.
So if you don't ever freak out, this post is not for you but you could probably read it just in case. You know. For a friend.
For you, it might be the same. Family. Cancer. Global warming. ISIS. Zombie apocalypse. Epidemic. Measles.
This is what sets off a panic attack. I finally found a way to deal with the stress that didn't add another 12 step program to my list of things that will never get done.
One of my teenagers compared me to a humming bird once. I flit around and try to anticipate the unanticipated, avoid the unavoidable, doing a lot of little things and wondering if I ever got anything done? But anxiety is an insult to our God. It shows we don't really trust Him to accomplish what needs to be done. It's like a car threatening to steer of course because we don't trust the track.
In today's first reading, Naaman is instructed to go to the Jordan and cleanse himself 7 times. Have you ever tried to take 7 deep cleansing breaths to focus? Have you ever paused to pray 7 times for what you need until the sickness of panic subsides? Have you ever consecrated 7 days, or 9, to hand over an anxiety to God and let Him handle it?
A friend of mine once recommended that I write, "It's not my responsibility" on my forehead. Too much stress, too much worry, too much anxiety - they keep our wheels spinning but don't keep our feet on the floor.
"Worry slanders every promise of God."
So I decided something new.
For each meeting, for each struggling teen, for each petition that I have on my heart distracted me from trusting God, I've given it up. When I start to feel that cold streak of panic, I pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be, surrendering it to my Father who will fix it, the Blessed Mother who will put her hand on my back to calm me and to the Trinity who is my fail safe in all things.
I do this seven times. Just like Naaman in the Jordan. Dunking it into the waters and bringing it back up, a little less scummy, a little less distracting each time. Drowning out the worry, drowning out the fearfulness and flooding the grief out of my heart.
It centers me back on Jesus. I've found that I freak out about the little things at least seven times a day, but if I've stopped to pray - seven times - about something I can't control, it's training me to let it go and let God. It's showing me how everything washes out. I can only cling to the thing that never goes away - and there's only One of those.
You don't have time to busy your heart on most of the preoccupations that threaten your peace. You don't have time for pettiness, vanity, international organizations that are forming in countries you will never see based on the history of generations. Work, do what you can, be passionate and compassionate, but know there's a reason we say, "Good grief!" Because you don't have time for idle offers, endless fears and little fires that God will blow out in a breath. There are some things in life only He can handle, and He will. You don't have time in this life to worry about God's business.
You're way too busy being loved by Him from now into eternity.
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
St. Teresa of Avila