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For our Book Club, Laura Nelson ponders how an attempt at avoiding suffering was at the root of her need for control.

When I was in high school, I went skiing for the first time. I was excited but nervous so I asked friends who had skied before to give me advice. The most helpful, difficult, and memorable advice was, “Don’t be afraid to fall.” 

At first, those words were completely UN-helpful. What did they mean? Of course I’m afraid of falling! I might get hurt! Or I’d at least look like a fool! Falling was exactly what I was afraid of! But those words came back to me with a new perspective as I was reading the reflections for this week. 

As Gary said in his Sunday reflection, “As a worrier, I like to be in control. Therefore it makes sense that I’m a planner.” Right away, I knew that Gary and I had been separated at birth. I guess you could say that planning is the future form of being in control and I enjoy planning so, you do the math. By planning with excruciating detail, I can give myself the illusion that nothing will go wrong.

Now, you and I both know in our rational minds that things go wrong. Often. Like falling on a ski slope (or even when you’re just learning to put the skis on). But somehow, somewhere, I came up with the false idea that I could plan every detail of life to make sure nothing. went. wrong. If I just considered all possible pitfalls, challenges, and missteps, I could plan my way to perfection. I believe the technical term used for this line of reasoning is “stinkin’ thinkin’.” 

But, why try so hard to be in control? What’s wrong with things going wrong from time to time? This is where Gary’s reflections gave me more insight into my worrying tendencies. Suffering! For some reason, I have the idea that things going wrong causes suffering for me or for others. And, of course, suffering is bad and to be avoided at all costs. You know, just like Jesus avoided suffering to live the cushy life? Wait. That doesn’t sound right ... 

I have to admit that I was surprised by this new revelation that the root of my need for control was an attempt at avoiding suffering. I’m not sure why that took me by surprise but it did. After all, suffering is a part of life. Jesus never promised us that life would be easy if we followed Him. And, some of the most intense suffering of my life has also led to some of the most beautiful moments of blessing and growth. From the baby that is born through the pain of labor to the relationship that is strengthened by surviving a trial together, suffering doesn’t have to be fruitless. Jesus showed us that through His Passion and Death. 

I think the hardest thing for me to remember when I’m overwhelmed with worry is that God is with me in that moment. It takes stillness and quiet within me to help me recall that to mind. And usually, when I’m in full-blown anxiety-mode, my mind is so full of thoughts that I can’t quiet them. In those moments, what I need is stillness; not just external physical stillness but inner stillness in my mind and soul. That’s not easy to achieve when you’re a mom. It takes practice. And it’s difficult, especially at first. But once you try it, being still with God can quickly become addictive. The peace I get from just a few moments with God in the quiet part of my day grounds me in His peace. The days I start with Him in quiet are often my best days. And once you have a taste of that peace, you start craving more.


What about you?

Do you try to maintain control of your life to minimize your worry?

Are you trying to avoid suffering at all costs like me or do you see that suffering is a part of life that can actually bring forth blessings?

How can you find ways to be still with God in your busy life and busy mind?

The root of my need for control was an attempt at avoiding suffering. #catholicmom

Did you miss this week’s Facebook Live with author Gary Zimak? Review it now! 

This is the final week of the Give Up Worry for Lent Book Club. Thanks for participating! We hope it has been a fruitful experience for you. 


Purchase your copy of Give Up Worry for Lent from Ave Maria Press and save: 

Use promo code LENTCM to save 20% off the cover price of the book and get free shipping too! This promo code expires April 30, 2021.

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Gary's newest book, Give Up Worry for Good! is available now at Ave Maria Press! You can use this 8-week resource any time of year — by yourself or with a small group — with more insights and habits that will help you win the battle against worry and experience the peace that only Jesus can provide.


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Copyright 2021 Laura Nelson
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