Overcoming Anxiety as a Catholic Woman

posted in: Catholic Mom, Editor's Picks | 24
I was raised with a do-it-yourself approach. If you fall get up, if you can’t reach get a stool, if you have a question find a dictionary. My parents and two older siblings fostered a sense of self-sufficiency in me and though some lessons were hard learned, I stood a bit taller every time I took care of myself. I fought through doubts and falls, but my chin was up.
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But after just 10 seconds of introspection, I see how my held up chin was false a lot of the time. I wasn’t very confident; and somewhere along the line I got mixed up, glorifying self-sufficiency so much that needing help became the same as weakness. And I’ve never accepted assistance well, at least not on the inside. Caught in a proverbial storm, I’d rather calm my own waves than make a burden of myself to anyone else, including Jesus.
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Overcoming anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed as a Catholic woman
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Not fully understanding Christ’s nature and overflowing love for us, I think we all place limitations on him in one way or another. My whole life I’ve seen him as someone to walk with, not lean on. Self-Sustaining Katie doesn’t need to lean on anyone; I’m too strong for that, but sure I’ll tell you what’s going on in my life, Jesus; what I think I need, why I’m happy or sad. Jesus has been a friend to whom I could burst with joy or into tears, but not someone to whose arms I run for comfort. He was more the recipient of information rather than the recipient of my heart.
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I know Christ has carried me to joy and been my light in darkness, but there have been parts of his plan that I just haven’t liked; parts of his plan that have hurt me and left me spiritually reeling and unable to see life clearly. My dad died from cancer. My marriage has been under siege with heaps of pain neither my husband nor I were communicating, but instead built up stacks and stacks of resentment until recently. Consequently, my foundation of I-can-do-it-myself combined with hurt sucked the trust right out of me. My heart is healing from it all, and gradually my trust with it.
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Just a couple of weeks ago, I folded laundry listening to the Catholic Conference 4 Moms. (Updated: This Conference has ended but another one is scheduled for later this year. Subscribe to our emails to be updated on when that will happen!) Prepping for a family trip to New Orleans, I went to bed well into the small hours of the next day, but I had the conference talks to keep me company and awake. They were all good, but it was Gary Zimak’s that went right to my soul: “Overcoming Anxiety with the Help of the Lord.” I’ve struggled with anxiety in the past and found that ultimately, it stemmed from a lack of trust.
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Not two minutes into his presentation, Mr. Zimak drew from The Diary of St. Faustina (she’s totally my girl), quoting Jesus in His conversation with St. Faustina: “The greatest obstacles to holiness are discouragement and anxiety.”
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Catholic Saint Faustina Quote from the Diary. Jesus' words to her on discouragement, anxiety, and what you can do as a Catholic woman and mom to prevent this. Read on.
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Ohhh that hurt so good. In my healing, truths like this are an awakening. At once my ears and heart were open to the rest of Zimak’s message, which was both soulful and practical. His 5 Steps to Help You Depend on the Lord were the guidance I needed and he encouraged his listeners to simply participate in the Catholic Faith in order to draw ourselves more deeply into Christ and let go of ourselves.
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I tried narrowing down my favorite bits of advice to just one, but I couldn’t. I relearned that faith has to be active and that if I ask the Lord for a blessing, I should move to accept it. My kids trust that the morning will bring breakfast, and they go to the table where they know it will be provided. Similarly, if we have a need, we should go to the places where we’ll be fed: Mass, adoration, Reconciliation, our own marriages.
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I relearned that trust looks a lot like focusing on God instead of the storm. Our sons loved being tossed around when they were infants, thrown into the air and caught with giggles. They squealed and loved it because they were always looking at our faces. It never occurred to them that they might fall because they knew in whose hands they landed. Life could rage all around me, but if my eyes are on things beyond this world, focused on my loving Lord, then my joy will be sustained and anxiety silenced.
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I relearned the value of simple prayers. Overrun by my own wounds and faults, I tend to complicate prayer thinking I have to undo my own knots in order to be close to Jesus. I’m self-sustaining, remember? But lately my favorite prayer has been a quiet “Change me.” I’ll give my knots to Jesus and Our Lady.
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Gary Zimak’s presentation was another piece in a large picture of trust for me. We can trust Jesus who in his mercy is pining to pour it all out into our hearts and pull us out of anxiety. We don’t have to be self-sustaining. And needing him isn’t weakness; in fact, it’s where we’re sure to find our biggest strength.
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Jesus, I trust in you.
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Please let us know what you think about this post before you go. What do you think about it after reading it?
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Catholic Mom Katie Sciba gust post at Catholic Mommy Blogs
Katie Sciba is a wife, mother, speaker, and Catholic Press Award-winning columnist for the Diocese of Shreveport. Katie’s blog, The Catholic Wife, is an effort for women to grow in virtue and strive for closeness to Christ as a means of improving their own hearts and marriages, written with some hard learned lessons and humor woven in. She and her husband Andrew live in Shreveport, LA with their four small children.
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This post was originally published at Catholic Mommy Blogs on March 7, 2016. It has been republished to update and keep facts and links current.
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24 Responses

  1. “I relearned that trust looks a lot like focusing on God instead of the storm. Our sons loved being tossed around when they were infants, thrown into the air and caught with giggles. They squealed and loved it because they were always looking at our faces. It never occurred to them that they might fall because they knew in whose hands they landed.”

    A good reminder. There are many things in life which we just ‘know’ in our minds or we just have a knowledge but we don’t know in our hearts or even if we know we don’t acknowledge it with faith.
    We tend to look upon our storms and the problems of life and focus on them instead of focusing on the ever opened and loving arms of our Father. We see the massive mountains before but forget the greatness and grace of our Lord.
    I love the example of the children when they are tossed😊..
    (P. S: Not only boys but girls also love being tossed and lifted up in the air 😅😅😉😉😛😛

    • catholicmommyblogs@gmail.com

      I agree! Katie provided such a great visual for that trust we need to have in God. (My girls also love being tossed around!)

  2. It is very useful to remember that “sadness is an friend of the enemy”.

  3. I know anxiety. Most days I have a handle on it. But you are so right, when I am not concentrating on HIM, sadness and anxiety can cloud my judgment and attitude.
    Sigh…. the wasted time.
    Great article.
    Emily

    • catholicmommyblogs@gmail.com

      You’re right. Wasted time it is. We can relate!

  4. Great post! That quote by St Faustina has always been huge for me when struggling with anxiety in the past.

    • catholicmommyblogs@gmail.com

      St. Faustina rocks. 🙂 Did you know she only had 3 years of education but wrote a book (Divine Mercy in my Soul)? Talk about a woman who knows how to overcome struggles.

  5. ” I got mixed up, glorifying self-sufficiency so much that needing help became the same as weakness.” So true! This was an awesome post. I’m going to share it with several of my friends who I know suffer from anxiety!

    • catholicmommyblogs@gmail.com

      Yeah, Katie has a way with writing that is so down-to-earth but also eloquent. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I have struggled with anxiety myself in many levels and this article lightened my heart

    • catholicmommyblogs@gmail.com

      I think most moms struggle with anxiety at some level. So glad you found this helpful. 🙂

  7. catholicmommyblogs@gmail.com

    That is so good to hear, Samantha! Do talk about your feelings with your spouse, friends, or a counselor too. You don’t have to be along with the anxiety.

  8. I love the idea of the parents catching the child and God catching us. We should never be afraid.

    • catholicmommyblogs@gmail.com

      It is a beautiful image, and it’s so easy to forget to let go and let God.

  9. Great reflection, Katie! Love the St. Faustina quote. I have struggled with anxiety off and on for about 15 years, so I love coming across Catholic resources for this issue. One resource that particularly helped me if Jenna Hines’ book “30 Days to Calm: Create Your Own Anxiety Toolbox” (http://callherhappy.com/30-days-calm/). I am learning to understand all of the spiritual aspects of anxiety, but Jenna’s book addresses some practical things we can do to combat the anxiety as well. Just thought I’d share 🙂

    • catholicmommyblogs@gmail.com

      I had been meaning to look into that book. Thanks for the great tip!

  10. Nice Sharing! Thank you so much for sharing this one really well defined all peaceful info,well really like it, Keep it up!

  11. Wonderful article ! Lots of women will benifit from reading this article , when it seems that life is overwhelming , or the world has gone cold , at times.
    Mothers are often the invisible workers, and so many people rely on us , that we don’t want to disappoint anyone or burden anyone. Including our husbands.
    So who are we to turn to when our family or friends aren’t there , when no one understands our needs or problems, emotions , worries or concerns ?
    Jesus ! Jesus , I trust in You !

    • catholicmommyblogs@gmail.com

      Amen! Lisa, you are spot on. If the words “Jesus, I trust in You” are constantly on our mind, our burdens will feel so much lighter. Thanks for the comment!

  12. That quote from the Diary of St. Faustina hit me hard, as well. I sometimes forget that anxiety is so counterproductive to sanctification. Thank you for sharing!

    • catholicmommyblogs@gmail.com

      So glad this helped to prove as a reminder for you, Bridget!

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