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More Thoughts on Anxiety, Part 2

alec vanderboom

Two themes I'm working on this year is discernment of spirits and the virtue of humility.

First, God is always encouraging. I love that quote from St Pete "Encourage each others while it is still today." St Pete is a super sanguine like me. Some artist portray him as this stern guy with a big list on who gets into the Pearly Gates--sort of like a more frightening version of Santa Claus. But he's not. St Pete is a cheerleader. Every word in his letters is encouraging, hopeful. You can do this! You can make it to heaven, too! Don't give up!

My bff St Teresa of Avila is another cheerleader for God. I picture her throwing her arm around me after a particularly difficult prayer session and saying "Yes, my dear, you do have the focus of a gnat. I started off as a gnat in prayer too. Just keep going! Things are going to get easier in prayer if you don't give up!"

Right now, my thoughts about my vocation as a wife and mother are a mess. I've got about two virtues thoughts for every six dozen evil ones. If my soul was a garden, you couldn't even tell what God planted in their most of the time, because the evil weeds are choking the light.

To fight anxiety, it's a constant weeding process. Toss out the bad thoughts, encourage the good ones.

Second, I've got a real problem with perfectionism. It's not enough the I'm caring for a newborn. I'm supposed to be caring for a newborn AND making sure there is a "real" dinner in the house AND the seven people I dearly love always have clean shirts.

Heaven forbid if a toddler suddenly teaches herself how to unlock a locked screen door, escape outside, and be returned by a neighbor while I'm comatose the morning after I return home from a c-section. (Yes, my Tess this March. Thank you guardian angels). I will miss the fact that toddler are notorious trouble-finders in every household at almost any time. Instead, I'll focus on the idea that I'm a neglectful mother, totally undeserving of five children and its a certainty that I'm going to completely fail each and everyone one of them.

I'm not good at practicing this yet, but in "theory" I'm finding that true humility is the antidote to perfectionism. Perfectionism is actually a form of hidden spiritual pride. I expect myself to meet certain goals 100% of the time. In contrast, a Carmelite monk named Brother Lawrence was an expert at humility. Whenever he screwed up, he said "Look God, see what a mess I am without you? Come over here and straighten me out." He didn't let any sin or mistake separate himself from God. Instead, he used his sins as a spring board to get closer to God.

I don't like having all of these "issues" and cracks, especially when I see it negatively impacting my family. But I DO LIKE how everything keeps pushing me further up Mount Carmel, and closer to my Lord.