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Lisa M. Hendey interviews Catholic Mom contributor Claire McGarry about a new book that highlights the lessons stress and tension have to teach us.

Today, I continue my ongoing series of conversations with published authors as I’m joined by Claire McGarry, author of the new book Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary from Our Sunday Visitor. Claire’s book came into my hands and heart at the perfect time. Her words helped me draw from my faith to cope with some truly challenging situations in life. Let’s be clear: “Grace in Tension” doesn’t mean that life will be completely problem-free. What Claire manages to do in a very gentle, affirming way is to remind us to see life’s obstacles with a new, reframed perspective. I hope you enjoy my chat with Claire and that her book will provide solace and insight to you in the New Year.




Claire McGarry is the author of Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary, and the Lenten family devotionals With Our Savior and Abundant Mercy. A regular contributor to Living Faith and CatholicMom.com, her freelance work has appeared in several books, magazines, and devotionals. She happily lives in NH with her husband and three children.

Q: Claire, congratulations on the publication of Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary! Please briefly introduce yourself and your family.

Thank you so much, Lisa! I really appreciate this opportunity to talk with you.

I’ve been married for 20 years to my husband, John. We have three great kids: Zack (17), Mason (15), and Jocelyn (11). I’m a former lay missionary who was stationed in Guatemala for three years. Once I became a mom and had kids, I realized I needed more support in both my motherhood and in my faith. Not able to find anything that fit my needs, I created a ministry called MOSAIC of Faith where I ran a mommy-and-me program, as well as monthly groups and evening retreats for moms. After presenting several retreats about Martha and Mary, I kept getting the feedback that I should write a book. Here we are, four years later, and that book is finally out in the world!

Q: Your premise in the book is that we can transform moments of tension in our lives into gifts of grace from God if we approach them systematically. Please share how this topic came to you and why you wanted to share your experiences with others.

Back in 2014, I began purposefully bringing my problems to God for His help while reading my Bible. Inevitably, the passage would match my situation, yet show me another way to look at it, shifting my perspective. That’s why my blog is called ShiftingMyPerspective.com because God always sheds new light on things when I look through the lens of His Word.

But it was only while meditating on the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10 that I recognized there was a pattern to the process. I was frustrated, like Martha is with her sister, Mary. I wanted Jesus to finally tell Mary to help so Martha’s tension, and mine, would disappear. It was in that moment that I realized God doesn’t always give us what we want, but He always gives us what we need. Often, we need to learn the lesson that the stress and tension have to teach us if we’d just listen. He helped me see what lesson I needed to learn and how to apply it to my life. When I did, the tension dissolved. Not only was the process a gift, but the steps make up the acronym G-I-F-T.

I wanted to share this method with the world because if it could help me transform my tension into grace, maybe it could help others do the same. I firmly believe there’s not a person out there who doesn’t feel stress in one way or another. I realized that if I could help others, and lead them to God in the process, it would be a win, win situation.


Grace in Tension


Q: I feel it’s important to address the fact that some folks may need clinical support for mental health issues alongside their spiritual approaches. How can the two work hand in hand?

I agree with you completely. Although I think my book and the G-I-F-T method can help people work through their tension, a therapist is trained to get at and help with the deeper issues. However, I do hope that any clinician would see the value of taking our stress to God for help. The ideal would be to weave that into the support plan, especially if the client has faith as the cornerstone of his or her life.

Q: Please share a bit about your “GIFT” process and how this has worked in your life?

When I go to God with my problems, and spend time listening to what He has to say, He helps me (G)uage/identify/name what the real problem is, not the symptom. Then He prompts me to (I)nvite it in. Facing our emotions helps us loosen our hold on them. In turn, they no longer have a hold on us. Once the emotion is removed, we can look at the situation through the (F)ilter of God’s loving eyes. He sees things differently than we do. He’s always working for our good, even in the midst of our most difficult times. If we listen, He’ll reveal the gift tucked inside the challenge we’re facing. He’ll also helps us see what external or internal change we need to make to resolve the problem. Then, He’ll partner with us in carrying that change out so we’re able to (T)ransform our tension into grace.

Q: How has living with this new perspective blessed you in the recent past and what do you hope it will do for those who read your book?

Every time I bump up against stress and tension now, I go to God to work through it. My journal is filled with G-I-F-T entry after G-I-F-T entry. Each and every time, He reveals the lesson I need to learn. Applying that lesson to my life always leads to grace.

I feel called to fish for more people for God. My hope is that sharing this process will inspire others to try it. Not only will it provide people with a tool to work through their tension, but, hopefully, it will become the net that draws them closer to God.

Q: Are there any additional thoughts or comments you’d like to share?

If people do read my book, I’d love to hear what they think. I created a tab on my website, ClaireMcGarry.com, where people can leave comments. I’d be so grateful to hear from people and read their feedback.

Thanks again, Lisa! It’s been a pleasure talking with you!

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Copyright 2022 Lisa M. Hendey
Images courtesy of Claire McGarry, all rights reserved.

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