Tuesday, November 24, 2015

When There Is So Much to Fear

Mailbag time: What to do when it all seems like too much . . . (and if you make it to the bottom there's news and shopping, yay!)

The Question: 
Hi Kendra, I found you blog a new months ago and have so enjoyed going through your old posts and soaking up all the good advice! My husband and I recently got married and had our first little one on our 9 month wedding anniversary, so our family is very young. I know you tend not to write about politics or opinion pieces about current events (there's plenty of that out there) but I feel like I could really use some guidance in light of what's happening in our world. How do you stay hopeful in this world? I find myself feeling so sad and scared everyday, and even guilty for bringing such a beautiful, innocent baby into such a messed up world. I don't even know how to be proactive and make it better. I feel like a sitting duck at home with my baby. How do you handle that? I don't want my daughter to grow up being afraid, but there is so much to fear! I pray about it, a lot, which does help. Is there a question somewhere in there? How do you get past the crippling fear that something bad will happen to your babies? Do you have a favorite prayer? Thank you so much. Been a rough week. Annie






The Answer:

Hey Annie, and thanks.

It's a fair question.

And first things first, depression, and postpartum depression especially, are real things that can't just be shrugged off or pushed through. If you feel like you have more than everyday anxiety, please seek help from a professional. Many women have gone through this before you, and getting help . . . helps. But if it's just worry, I have some thoughts about that.

I used to be a worrier. Not so much about big, important world events, but I was constantly worried about control of little stuff like traffic and slow checkout lines who was thinking what, and all the little minutia. What changed it for me was reading this book about/by Mother Angelica. It's not even really a biography, just a collection of quotes and insights. Reading it, I was floored by her faith and trust. How she really did trust God to take care of her and how that gave her an incredible boldness in all her endeavors. I wanted that freedom and confidence she had.

I realized, that if I was worried, what that really meant was that I didn't trust that God was really there, involved in the details of my life. So I started praying for the gift of faith and hope and trust.

It happened that we were going on a trip to Italy shortly thereafter and I got to put my new resolution to the test. We were supposed to board a train from Rome to Venice and wanted to squeeze in one last church visit to St. Paul Outside the Walls, and we cut it too close. My dad had stayed at the train station to watch the luggage and had loaded it all onto the train. My mom jumped on board, but Jim and I had the kids and they closed the doors right in front of us and the train pulled away. And there we were. I had the train tickets in hand, bought in the US, nonrefundable and nonchangeable, and that's it. Husband, thank God, and four little kids and a pregnant belly, but no suitcases, no passports, nothing.
And in that moment, I knew I would normally panic. But somehow, I didn't. Somehow I knew that however it went down, it would be okay.

And it was.

They didn't have to, but they put us on the next train, and they radioed the train we missed to tell them that my parents did in fact have tickets, and they bought us a pizza. It was lovely.

And now, I can really, honestly say, I am not worried about stuff.

It's not that I think bad things couldn't happen to me. I know that they could. We've just taken a risk on a crazy huge fixer upper house. It could be a dream or it could be a disaster. I understand that. But I also know that no matter what happens with money or houses, I am a child of God and I can be a Christian in any circumstance.

If I imagine the worst, the absolute worst scenarios . . . my husband dies and we become destitute, I get wrongfully arrested and my children are taken from me, I have to watch one of them suffer through a long illness, they ALL die in a car accident. Clearly, there's no human way I would be able to handle any of those things. But when I read the lives of the saints and I read how they faced terrible tragedy and kept their faith and got through it with God's help, I know the same would have to be true for me. I don't understand HOW, but I believe it would be true.

I know that as long as my priorities are right I can find joy and serve God no matter what happens to me, no matter what happens to the world.

So, how can I really be scared of anything in life? And, for a Catholic, death is nothing to fear at all. (As long as I get myself to confession on a regular basis.)




As for kids, I firmly believe that a troubled world is all the more reason to keep having babies. They bring our family so much joy.

We were sitting in the living room the night after the terrorist attacks in Paris, saying our family rosary. The big kids were being good and sitting in a seat as per our family rules, but we often let the two and four year olds just run around as long as they aren't too noisy. And the two of them came up with this game, rolling over each other on the carpet. It was just the cutest, most hilarious thing. And the rest of us are all trying to continue saying the rosary through our shoulder-shaking laughter. It was a really beautiful moment. And it made me so grateful to have this font of joy in my home, at a sad time in the world.

And it's my hope that each of these little people will grow up and go out into the world and make it a little better. A little less dark.

So, I guess my advice is, read the lives of the saints. Ask God to increase your faith. If you feel attacked by despair, say the St. Michael prayer. Remember St. Padre Pio's advice to Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry. Listen to Jesus and St. JPII who said again and again, "Be not afraid." And remember, when it seems like you can't do it yourself, that's because you can't. But God can.

Cheers,
Kendra


Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You're thinking of this guy.) If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching, please consider it my error (and let me know!). I'm not a doctor or an expert on anything in particular. I'm just one person with a lot of experience parenting little kids and a desire to share my joy in marriage, mothering, and my faith.

If you've got a question, please send it along to catholicallyear @ gmail . com . Please let me know if you prefer that I change your name if I use your question on the blog.


And now, from the more stuff I never thought I'd be doing file . . . Sarah wrote to ask me if I could resize the Blessing for Beer print so she could put it on a pint glass for her husband for Christmas, which is a really great idea. And I totally could have done that. But we are taking this week off of school. So I spent the day making a Printable Prayers Shop at Cafepress.

I made this stuff:



And much more, including posters, framed prints, and baby blankets in the most popular designs from the Etsy shop. And oh, yeah, pint glasses:



I can't believe I didn't think to do it before! Anyway, if there's a particular print of mine you'd like on something (pajamas, computer bag, dog shirt) just let me know. After all, 'tis the season for shutting the kids outside and trying to get some stuff done.

Update:  Argh. I licensed the little Star Wars guys from the artist who created them, and got permission in writing from PicMonkey that I was allowed to sell items with the superhero overlays. But CafePress flagged them as potentially in violation of copyright and all orders of that stuff is pending approval. I've pleaded my case via email. But we shall see. The stuff without little guys is all available. And you can still get the prayers themselves on Etsy. Sorry for the trouble and delay. Sir Topham Hatt would be so disappointed.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, America!

SHARE THIS POST - {PINTEREST}

16 comments:

  1. Also, watch for ppd. A friend finally got treatment for anxiety when a new baby + 9/11 put her over the edge.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love this. I'm going to try and keep it in mind, instead of worry.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I believe having some fear is beneficial, and hiding it from children isn't helpful for them. A healthy fear, especially about the terrible happenings in the world, created by a lack of trust in Christ, or a lack of belief in Christ, is the problem. There will always be chaos in this world until it is united in Christ. So... What are we to do? First of all, be grateful. Not afraid! God created us to be with Him in heaven some day, if we live our lives according to His love for us. We should wake up each morning exhilarated that He wants us to share His happiness in heaven! That new little baby of yours (woman with the question), God made this little baby to be with Him, so don't ever feel bad about what he or she may face in this world! As my godmother likes to say, "la vida es una pasadita, no mas." - "this life is just a little stroll". I spent my childhood in Mexico in the 70s, and just into the early 80s- and there was always some sort of trouble brewing in Central America, and I distinctly remember listening to my parents discuss the problems that could potentially spread over into the border of Mexico. It terrified me to think of communism spreading upwards into our lives, but it also instilled in me a confidence in God. And I go to bed grateful my family lives in safety. But it was all due to my father. He constantly told us to read books about the saints, and he also constantly reminded us that there will ALWAYS be trouble in this world until we all became Christians, true Christians. And, as Kendra reminded us about St. Padre Pio, "pray, hope, AND DON'T WORRY"! And yes, read Mother Angelica. She also has a book which woke me up, called Answers, Not Promises.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is an excellent answer, Kendra. I do want to echo the first commenter that mentioned post partum depression--that can bring all kinds of crazy worries that are very hard to deal with.
    I quote this line from Madeleine L'Engle all the time: “We can surely no longer pretend that our children are growing up into a peaceful, secure, and civilized world. We've come to the point where it's irresponsible to try to protect them from the irrational world they will have to live in when they grow up. The children themselves haven't yet isolated themselves by selfishness and indifference; they do not fall easily into the error of despair; they are considerably braver than most grownups. Our responsibility to them is not to pretend that if we don't look, evil will go away, but to give them weapons against it.”
    Joy, as you mentioned, is one of the very strongest weapons against evil! And it's impossible to have to true joy without complete surrender to God's providence.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Annie (and Kendra!),
    I agree with Kendra's wisdom and her tips are things that have helped me in the past! I often remind myself to throw myself into God's arms and trust, trust, trust.
    I also try to remember that, first of all, this world has been full of nastiness and sin for, well, almost forever and history shows us that. It's just that in this time we have the media to show us every horrific act.
    Secondly, I find it comforting to think of all the strong Catholic families out there raising little ones into great warriors for the Lord. I love reading blogs like Kendra's because it's proof that we are not the last faithful Catholics out there! (And we have a lot to learn from the other ones!)
    Lastly, sometimes being a new mom all alone is the perfect place for the enemy to attack with his lies. he loves for us to doubt God's plan and His ability to pull great beauty out of the rubble of the world.
    If you feel scared in your home during the day, just remember this funny story. Once when our oldest was a mere six weeks old, my husband sat the alarm (when he left to go to work) to go off if there was any movement in the house. He was just doing what he had automatically done everyday- forgetting that I was asleep upstairs. When I came down the stairs that morning, the alarm started blaring. INSTEAD OF RUNNING TO MY SLEEPING CHILD, I ran out the front door as fast as I could. 😂 I like to think that I was just drawing the "bad guys" away!!!
    Have a great Thanksgiving,
    Kandace

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks all. Thanks for making the really important point about seeking help for PPD if necessary. I'll update the post above.

    I got this note on the facebook page, from someone who wished to share but remain anonymous: "I could have written this exact note just a couple years ago. And what Kendra suggested above was invaluably helpful to me as well as some conversation at confession with my priest. But, I did realize a little later when I wasn't exactly feeling better or like myself that I also had a large amount of anxiety that I wasn't sure how to cope with. And opening up to my fiance and family about what I was really feeling helped them help me to finally go talk with someone about it. And a couple weeks of some counseling to learn some coping skills as well as having strong family support to lean on helped me through it.

    So, I guess I just wanted to say that if you really feel like it's getting really hard to stay hopeful, don't hesitate to reach out to family and friends and figure out what will help you feel better."

    ReplyDelete
  7. Last weekend our pastor said to us, "Hope is what motivates prayer." Which is probably so obvious, but it was what I needed to hear. We hope and we pray.

    ReplyDelete
  8. A very thoughtful post, thank you. I think I will ask for that book for Christmas.

    And I will be ordering that pint glass for Christmas for Neil for sure! Great idea. I love your printables.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Kendra...SO well said. SO what I needed to hear. Printing this. Keeping this. And as for Mother Angelica...listening to her via my iPad (Mother Angelica Live audio) has strengthened my faith in deep places that nothing else I have read or heard has done. Bless her!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am the queen of worrying. Self-proclaimed, but nonetheless true. So I cannot offer more on this topic than the excellent post Kendra wrote, except there are two small things that help me sometimes and that I tell my kids and I think it helps them, too. One is: The Good Guys Always Win. (I think I started saying this in response to some movie I didn't want them to be scared of because I knew nothing bad was going to happen, but then it took on an existential quality that I very much enjoy so I use it all the time). The other is from a greeting card, so that's a cheesy source, but I still love it: Everything Will Be Ok In The End. If It's Not Okay, It's Not The End. I mean...such truthiness! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love both of those mottoes! Very truthy.

      Delete
  11. I'm also I new mom and while I agree with Kendra's advice, I would add that I think it's normal to feel anxiety about our tiny babies growing up in the world. I certainly felt this. Not that I shouldn't have had her, or that it was wrong, but just that, she is so innocent and sweet and I know she will encounter suffering and evil. And I want to keep that from her. I think the anxiety brought on by these thoughts motivated me to think seriously about how I want to raise her and what my husband and I can do to arm her to fight evil. When it comes to me personally fighting against the bad things in the world, I try to find small ways to spread kindness and love in my corner of the world. I remember learning as a teacher that the kids most at risk for suicide or for doing harm to others are those who feel disconnected from anyone I their life. Often, having someone say hi every day is enough to bring these kids out of themselves enough to get help. So I decided that in my regular life I can do this too. Be the chatty person in the post office line, talk to the grocery store greeter, take an interest in the gas station man. The smiles these little conversations cause are surely worth something. And of course there is a cute baby to help with this. We won't defeat terrorists this way, but we are building the culture from the inside and I think that makes the country stronger.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. That's a really good point. Especially about the baby thing. Babies and kids are such icebreakers. Everyone makes eye contact, most folks chat with us for a second. If I go shopping alone, I feel almost invisible. Which is nice every now and again, but might feel lonely after a while!

      Delete
  12. First, I love your advice in this post. It's so encouraging.
    Second, sorry about the troubles with selling your items.
    Third, love the bit about Sir Topham Hatt. :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Annie, don't be afraid, if it's meant to be, it'll come and if it's not, not :-) just a short European positivity to American worriers.

    What's wrong with those trains to Venice? Lucky of you to work things out like that (plus pizza) because as usually you either get charged twice or you never find your luggage in Italy.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It may also be worthwhile to point out that, although the media may give the impression that things are dire indeed, we are actually living in one of the best times to be alive. I'm going to link to a bunch of tweets because they have graphs readily available, but the source data can be found from the original tweet.

    Extreme poverty around the world has halved (!) in just the last 20 years: https://twitter.com/MaxCRoser/status/668820831544430592

    The global literacy rate is higher than it's ever been: https://twitter.com/MaxCRoser/status/670695423401664512

    Child mortality has dropped significantly. In 1800, almost half of children (43.3%) died before reaching adulthood. Now, that level is 3.4% globally. https://twitter.com/MaxCRoser/status/669555906380767236

    The risk of death during childbirth continues to fall: https://twitter.com/MaxCRoser/status/671297244293947392

    War is on the decline compared to the last 600 years of human history: http://knowmore.washingtonpost.com/2015/05/29/heres-how-many-people-have-died-in-war-in-the-last-600-years/

    So when you hear of things going wrong, recognize the tragedy while remembering that it is likely a blip on our steady march to a more peaceful, healthier, well-educated world.

    ReplyDelete

Have an opinion? Leave a comment.

We don't always have to agree, where's the fun in that? But no name calling or speculating about what people "really" think or mean.

Sorry, no more anonymous comments. Too much spam/unpleasantness!

Including a link? Then use your html cheat sheet: <a href="LINK ADDRESS">YOUR TEXT</a>

 
SITE DESIGN BY DESIGNER BLOGS