A guest blog by Michelle
Fear. We all struggle with it. That four letter word that keeps us back from our dreams and at the same time is necessary in order to preserve our very lives. It’s New Years Eve 2019 today. A new year offers opportunity for reflection, for a fresh start, and in this specific case “2020 vision.” As I reflect on the past year, I see a lot of instances of fear overcome. I feel it is important as a Catholic with depression to create space to acknowledge and be grateful for the accomplishments in my life, while simultaneously deepening my awareness that all things are made possible through Christ.
The little things I do to overcome my fears are simple, as the answers usually are for me. The most useful action I take when overcoming my fear is to trust in Our Lord. That’s faith. Practicing receiving and recognizing His love is paramount for my mental health. I take time to reflect each day, and allow myself the time to meditate on Our Lord and His goodness. I receive strength and clarity from this. It’s easy for me to get caught in the rat race of life, packing my schedule to the brim and brushing off the concept of meditation as frivolous and unnecessary. Then I remember how Saint Mother Teresa herself said she used to sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament for 3 hours per day. Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was also a fan of utilizing this holy practice. It is a problematic pattern for me to wake up and stay trapped in selfishness and self-pity. But if I want to grow my faith, and I believe living a full and thriving life is what Our Lord Jesus wants for all of us, I must force myself to practice faith. And usually once I take the first two or three baby steps, God takes the reins.
Because I grew up in an imperfect, dysfunctional household as so many of us did, I internalized patterns of thinking which default to fear-based reactions. For instance, the “not good enough concept,” which is demonic. Obviously I am meant to be here. Obviously everyone is meant to be here, on this Earth, in this Universe, existing right at this moment. And the answers I seek are not found in a tarot or a fortune reading, as I so previously believed. These are also demonic, as superficial, as I’ve been gently yet firmly reminded by my Catholic circle of friends. No, the true answers are found in the Eucharist, in Christ alone. I was always encouraged by my former Priest to deepen my prayer life, and he knows what’s up. Science claims we can rewire our own brains through prayer and meditation. I will hold firm to this. Infact, I have faith in it! My goal for 2020 is to deepen my faith and even to be in a constant state of meditation upon Our Lord. I like my goals challenging, yet attainable. He is who I will run to with my problems, my delights, my fears, and my questions. I will not run to my problematic patterns, as these do not further develop His Kingdom.
I thank God for giving me the right kind of fear and caution in order to preserve my livelihood. Not only does this relate to, for example, running in front of a moving vehicle, but also respecting other people’s boundaries. It requires a certain type of sensitivity to accomplish this. A sensitivity that is a grace from Our Lord alone. That is why depression is such a backwards illness. It actually leads people against their nature, to wanting to kill themselves, which our God-given fear works to prevent. And I praise Our Lord for my fear of Him. For He created, and He can take away. He owns the key to all mysteries, and He alone is my Keeper and the Keeper of the entirety of existence.
God loves all of us. This is so vital for me to have faith in. Growing up receiving conditional love from my imperfect family of origin, I must remember my real family, my perfect family in the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Saints, and God Himself – The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. He loves me beyond measure and wants to prepare me to receive His love at all times and especially for eternity in Heaven with Him. What a concept! I better get used to love.
I wish all our readers a Blessed New Year, and may your prayer lives continue to deepen in a way so as to live in the holy kinds of faith and fear, harmoniously. God Bless!