Catholic

Tales From a Recovering Control Freak

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.-5

Dear Anne,

About 15 years ago, my boys went on a class hiking trip and the trail ran alongside a creek. As ten-year-old boys are inclined to do, some “accidentally” waded in the water as they searched for critters or competed to see whose rock would make the biggest splash. It was probably about this time of year, early spring, with temperatures in the 50’s, perhaps 60. I remember the outcry from some moms when they returned. “They could have caught pneumonia!” “Little Joey has hypothermia!” Not exactly likely on a twenty minute (heated) bus ride home, I thought. I couldn’t’ believe moms were worried about THAT, when they would probably let their kids watch some inappropriate movie when they get home. (I know, judgmental.  Sue me.)

Back then, I knew what a good mom should be concerned with, before my kids taught me otherwise. I thought I could create perfect outcomes if I just kept my eye on the right things and kept my kids out of the wrong ones. Even though I attended Mass and practiced my faith, this was one part of my life where I didn’t really seek God’s help. Control and perfectionism, worry’s more energetic cousins, were my only assistants.

As the teen years unfolded, and especially during our youngest son’s turbulent senior year of high school, I had to face the fact that I wasn’t in control. While I could express love and concern, I could listen and I could guide, I couldn’t actively change anything. It was then that I knew I needed a spiritual reboot—God was telling me I needed to let go of my fears and lean on Him.

The bible is full of admonitions from God not to worry. From “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not” in Proverbs 3:5 to “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” in John 14:27 we are told that God wants us to trust in Him, to realize that He is in charge. Easier said than done, huh? Anxiety, fear and worry have been part of the human condition since that first bite of apple because at that moment mankind set out to control things, to be the God of our own lives. And when we lose sight of the true God and think we are in charge, that’s when worry starts.

We are so blessed as Catholics to have spiritual practices to help us calm our racing minds and help us refocus. When I was struggling a few years back, praying the rosary was a time of refuge, of peace. Meditating on the mysteries while losing myself in the repetitive prayers placed my attention towards what is truly important and away from my worries. Mindfulness might be the new buzzword, but we Catholics have known about the power of meditative prayer for more than two millennia.

In Eucharistic Adoration, we lay our worries and fears at Jesus’ feet. We can sit in silence, allowing God’s love to wash over us, much in the same way our parents’ love comforted us as children. We have so little quiet in our lives and our minds constantly race to the next thing we “need” to do, worried we won’t get it all in. Adoration is the gift of freedom, and of great love.

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At the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal in Philadelphia

And then we have the have the saints, to whom we can turn to as friends, friends who faced the same human worries over family, health, marriage and loss that we do today. I can talk with St. Monica, who had her own son issues, and ask her to intercede for my boys, to listen to my mother’s heart. Monday novenas at the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal here in Philadelphia are special to me, when we offer intentions to Our Lady, and thank her for blessings given. The power of prayer in that space feels very real, and soothes my everyday concerns.

I am never going to be the perfect mother. I am never going to be the perfect Catholic. I need to trust that I need to follow God’s plan and not try to control things myself. I’m a work in progress, and I’m not sure I’ll ever truly live out the words from Psalm 112, “They will have no fear of bad news, their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”  But the Church offers me beautiful devotions and sacred prayers to help me on my journey.

Love,

Susan

**This is part of the Catholic Women Bloggers Network Blog Hop!  Check it out here!**

6 thoughts on “Tales From a Recovering Control Freak

  1. I have always been a worrier. Coming from a strained home it was the most natural thing for me to do. But I think I was just gearing up. When I had my children worry and anxiety were at their worst especially as they became young adults. When my daughter was 16 I was overcome with worry about the directions she was taking. I am today so thankful for the priest who suggested consecrating my daughter to our Blessed Mother. And I did that, wow! She has taken such good care of my daughter.I knew that our Blessed Mother could and would love my daughter during the times that I was having a hard time with her.

    I absolutely love that on Monday’s you offer your intentions to Our Lady. That is a great idea.

    Like

  2. Hi, my name is Chandi. I am a recovering control freak. I’ve been in recovery for 4 1/2 years.
    I love this post and can relate to it so well!

    Like

  3. Oh yes to the Rosary! That has helped me so much with my worries over the years.

    Blessed Mama Mary helps me out so much. When I was in labor with my 3rd child, each contractions I was praying “Hail Mary” and thinking about the people whom I was offering intentions for. Talk about focusing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such a great post!! But, I will say – chapels (especially with the really cute sign reminding us to be quiet) turn me into a control freak… I love that sign, but I would be forced to turn right back around, at the stage my kids are in – where when they “know” they’re supposed to be quiet, they act out!

    Even when I pray for help from their Guardian Angels…

    I think it’s God’s way of teaching me humility! 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

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