Have you ever had one of those moments when life seems to be truckin’ along as usual – then BAM – something comes out of left field, leaving your world completely shaken? You stand there blinking, looking around like nothing looks or feels the same anymore. Suddenly you remember, with 3D technicolor clarity, that life is totally unpredictable. Nothing is guaranteed.
Kinda scary when you really think about it.
This was on my mind all week, since it seemed I couldn’t go a day without something changing my day-to-day norm. I moved offices, I moved rooms, my friend moved away, I got new furniture, my friends are getting married (WHOOP!), my boyfriend is traveling for work, people close to me are having drama, deadlines for work are changing, there are wars all over the place, people are still recovering from natural disasters…
It’s never-ending, and for some reason this is news to me. I think for awhile I was deluding myself into thinking that life should stay the same, that if only life could be predictable, it would feel safe. If things stayed the same, I would feel like I had a foundation, something solid to stand on.
The truth is, nothing in this life is predictable, not completely. Life is subject to change at any moment, a realization that is likely to bring on panic attacks to those prone to them (like yours truly).
So what am I supposed to do? How do I find safety? How do I feel secure? What in this life doesn’t change?
God. God doesn’t change. His presence and love are infinite and unchanging.
“God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” – Psalm 46:1-3
Okay, so God is always there. He’s our rock. But how do I feel that? How do I integrate that into my daily experience? Because often times when my world gets shaken up, I forget that. I forget that He is my refuge. Instead, I seek what earthly comforts I can find, through Pinterest, TV, chocolate, shopping, or reading paperbacks. On their own, they’re not inherently bad things, but they certainly don’t steady me or bring lasting peace and comfort. I usually find temporary relief, but the anxiety creeps right back, reminding me that nothing is certain, nothing is safe, that I should probably stay up at night worrying about what horrible thing might happen next. What happened to my safety net, my foundation?
“24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.” – Matthew 7:24-25
Ah, why thank you for the reminder, Gospel. My foundation must be set on something sturdy that will withstand the revolving-door-of-crazy this world often brings. But again, what does that look like? How do I do that?
My answer came in talking with a priest at St. Albert the Great. He gave me a prayer written by Padre Pio, called “A Prayer After Communion”. The prayer begs God over and over, “Stay with me!” It implores the Lord to stay with us, to remind us who He is, who we are in Him. It’s a beautiful prayer of repetition and trust. It recognizes how scary the world can be, but also recognizes that God can and will bring us through it all. It shows how even a saintly man like Padre Pio was filled with fear and doubt, but he knew that he had to constantly remind himself of his foundation to get him through.
Okay, so maintaining foundation in God takes repetition. It takes daily re-dedication. I finally realize that to build my foundation in God, I have to direct my daily habits towards that through prayer, meditation, reading the Bible and the saints, engaging in the Sacraments, and looking for God in everything. Every time I bless myself with holy water, I must do so with intention, reminding myself who I am through baptism, that I am a child of God, that he is my foundation, he is my breath, my life, my being. He is my everything. Maybe if I practice these things, God will become a foundation when life becomes chaotic. These practices will integrate hope and faith in God as my rock, so that when life gets stormy, I can withstand the wind and rain.
This faith must be followed by action. I believe God is my rock and foundation, now I must act – through prayer and study and activities – on that knowledge to bring life to it, to make it real and concrete. I must do these things every day, as if my life depended on it.
Because it does.