April 9, 2008

Frustration, Worry, and Prayer

I am an anxious person. I worry about all kinds of things, large and small. Lately I have been worrying a lot more than is probably good for me. I don't like to worry, it is kind of like self torture but I have such a hard time trying not to. I *know* I am supposed to pray and give it up to God, knowing he has infinite wisdom in his plan for me, for my life, for the lives of my loved ones. The thing is... I am still pretty new to my faith and it is not as rock solid as it should be sometimes. I have doubts, I have fears. Mostly I am afraid of death, my own and that of my loved ones. It seems like it should be irrational to fear it, especially since I have become Catholic. Don't get me wrong, the realization that this life is not all there is and that when it ends it doesn't mean that it is THE end for us has really brought me comfort. The problem is I still fall back into old habits and thinking patterns. I suppose it makes some sense since my whole life I had those doubts and fears and questions. I have only in the last 2 years begun to see life in a different way. It doesn't really help matters that I have a few health problems that surface from time to time and make me realize my mortality very acutely. One of them is problems with my heart rate and rhythm, another is an autoimmune disease that attacks my thyroid. I sometimes become overwhelmed with fear and I find I cannot be very inspired in the prayer department at those times when I probably most should be.

I have thought about going to talk with a priest about these things, but in the end I have a feeling that it will still be my struggle alone to deal with. Maybe it is a test or maybe it is my cross to bear... but lately it has been impacting my everyday life more and that is not good, or at least I am not dealing with it well and it is affecting my husband lately too. I have set goals in life which I am failing to meet and that causes me to be more frustrated and worried. I know I should pray more about it and I am going to make a serious effort to do so, but sometimes it is hard not knowing the answer. Maybe in the long run I will realize why things are the way they are now, and God's plan for me will be revealed. It is just so hard to see that from my small and limited perspective.

Sometimes I think maybe I am making mountains out of molehills. After all, I do not lack for food, shelter, clothing, or love in my life. Perhaps I am simply spoiled and ungrateful? I have a good job, or at least one that pays the bills and allows us to set some money aside for savings every month. Not to say that my job isn't stressful, but I am luckier than most people in this world.

Well that is enough venting from me for now. Hopefully it will help relieve some of the pressure and maybe now I can focus enough to go have a conversation with God and be patient enough to wait for his answer.


Jennifer F. said...

I am so sorry to hear about your struggles. Do you think there's any chance the issue with your thyroid is causing you to feel especially down? Anyway, you will be in my prayers.

Lady of the Lakes said...

I suppose my thyroid problems could be a contributing factor to my other issues. But honestly I have been dealing with anxiety for many years in various forms. Praying really does help me, the problem is, sooner or later I fall back into a cycle of worry/anxiety. It just happens to be my biggest cross lately and I don't always bear it well. Thank you so much for your kind words and your prayers,they are much appreciated.

freddy said...

First I just want to say, welcome home to the Church!

Although I'm a cradle Catholic, I found shortly after the birth of my second child that I'd sometimes become overwhelmed with worries and fears such as you described. Eventually I did take this to a priest in confession. My confessor that day was an older priest who was so helpful and joyful. He just explained how much God loved me and all I needed to do was trust Him and do my best to follow Him. Sure I still get upset and anxious, but I think about that confession and find myself able to put things into perspective.

My advice to you would be:
1. Pray daily. Find some type of prayer or reading that relaxes and uplifts you. I do well with the rosary, but others I know do better with the Bible, or sacred music, or even contemplation of sacred art.
2. Set realistic goals, and take time for self-care.
3. Talk to a priest or spiritual director that you trust. Sometimes God gives us things we have to bear on our own; but sometimes he wants us to reach out to others.
4. Remember that you're not alone! Lots of people are praying for you, as your prayers are helping others in need. God bless you!

amm said...

I just stumbled onto your blog for the first time, and just read this post. I am not sure whether you are still dealing with strong anxiety, but I just thought I would put in my two cents.
Several years ago, I went through a period of intense anxiety. Mine was not just normal worrying, but worrying about things that would never really happen (like airplanes crashing from the sky, etc). I am also a devout Catholic, and I struggled with prayer and Mass and Confession, because I felt like the Catholic view of suffering was telling me that I should be ok to feel so anxious and that I would have to bear it just as a cross, which seemed to me impossible. Prayer although often frustrating did help, and I do urge you to keep turning to God, even if only to ask for help. I also liked to pray to Our Blessed Mother, and picture her holding me in her arms and rocking me like a baby, because that is how afraid I felt. But, if your anxiety does persist, I would also really suggest seeing a psychologist or a counselor. I was very very reluctant to do so, and I was deathly afraid of being prescribed anything (which I wasn't, although I'm sure I could have been), but simply talking with someone for whom anxiety is a "normal" psychological condition, did help some. I expressed my faith to my counselor, and he was very respectful of it. He didn't really say any one thing which helped, it was just the process of talking in a normal way about what felt like a very abnormal problem which did some good. God was my savior, who actually healed me, but the therapist did help me cope. In the end, after about 6 months of intense anxiety, I felt like God was taking the burden from me, and now I am much much better. I still worry and get afraid (I have a residual fear of flying), but in a normal way. I just hope that you can know that other Catholics experience anxiety and fear of death, and that it isn't "ungrateful" or "selfish" of you to need to get the help necessary to take care of yourself. As Christians we are repeatedly told to "Be Not Afraid", but for some of us that takes more effort and help than for others.

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