Maintaining Peace when Worries Overwhelm You

Worries. It seems that worry is just a part of everyday life these days. Sometimes worries can overwhelm us so much that they take over a whole day. I can’t imagine living day in and day out with some of the worries that are shared with me when people ask for prayer.

The other day a mother told me her sorrow over a son who was a drug addict. Having known a couple mothers in the past who had walked this way themselves, I knew a little about the devastating ways this could affect a family. I shared with her my compassion. She leaned in closer and said in a quiet voice, “Sister, I told God that he has my son in his hands. This whole experience has brought me closer to God. I’ve learned to trust him more than I ever would have without having to deal with this addiction in my son’s life and the way it has affected my family. I keep telling God that I know that he is bringing good out of this. He is that powerful. God is love. I put my worries in his heart.”

This mother had learned the difference between concern and worry.

To worry is to take the burden of a situation on ourselves and to rely on ourselves to fix it or deal with the consequences.

Concern is to carry the same burden, but to entrust it to God who now takes charge of it (and who takes this task very seriously). The burden is no longer ours to carry but now belongs to God. We are asked to do what we humanly can and to trust in God to do what is needed. To do what only God can. The “freedom of the children of God” means that those who hand their burdens over to God walk the path of life with great lightness and carefreeness.

To move from worry to concern entails learning to let go. That can seem like such a huge leap when the burdens we carry are heavy. I’d like to share with you some of the living words of Jesus to Father Dolindo Ruotolo (1882 – 1970), an Italian Catholic priest who lived in Naples, Italy. Saint Padre Pio himself said to pilgrims who had come to Pietrelcina to see him, “Why do you come here when you have Don Dolindo in Naples? Go to him, he’s a saint!”

“Leave the care of your affairs to me!”

These words come from the living experience of the presence of Jesus in the prayer life of Father Dolindo:

“Why do you confuse yourselves by worrying? Leave the care of your affairs to me and everything will be peaceful. I say to you in truth that every act of true, blind, complete surrender to me produces the effect that you desire and resolves all difficult situations.”

“To surrender to me does not mean to fret, to be upset, or to lose hope, nor does it mean offering to me a worried prayer asking me to follow you and change your worry into prayer. It is against this surrender, deeply against it, to worry, to be nervous, and to desire to think about the consequences of anything. It is like the confusion that children feel when they ask their mother to see to their needs, and then try to take care of those needs for themselves so that their childlike efforts get in their mother’s way. Surrender means to placidly close the eyes of the soul, to turn away from thoughts of tribulation, and to put yourself in my care, so that only I act, saying ‘You take care of it.'”

The prayer that Father Dolindo encouraged people to say is so simple, it can be said at any time of the day, even all day: “O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!”

Jesus promises: “Close your eyes and let yourself be carried away on the flowing current of my grace; close your eyes and do not think of the present, turning your thoughts away from the future just as you would from temptation. Repose in me, believing in my goodness, and I promise you by my love that if you say ‘You take care of it,’ I will take care of it all; I will console you, liberate you and guide you.”

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