I’ve heard it said that 90% of the things we worry about never happen. Now an optimist would readily drop the worry and realize how useless it really is. A pessimist, on the other hand, would think, “Wow, worrying is pretty effective!”
Now I have to admit, my melancholy temperament is prone to worry and that second comment was my own. Of course, I said it tongue in cheek but deep down, I think for many of us veteran worriers, we believe there’s some truth to that idea- that somehow we stave off bad things by worrying to keep them at bay.
It’s kind of like magical thinking- or worse, superstition. For those prone to obsessive compulsive disorder, this cuts to the very heart of their suffering… “If I don’t close the drawer 7 times or check the front door 11 times or I hang the towels differently, something bad…no something really, really awful will happen.”
Now saying stuff like that out loud helps us to see how ridiculous that thinking truly is, but for those suffering from OCD, or for your basic, garden-variety worry wart, the suffering of such thinking is all too real and not to be taken lightly.
On this Feast of St. Padre Pio (September 23rd), I think we need to turn to his intercession and meditate on his famous saying: “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry”. The scariest thing for a worrier to do is nothing. It can leave him or her feeling helpless and hopeless. To simply tell a worrier not to worry is not only not useless, but it can sometimes be perceived as cruel. After all, they don’t feel like they can help it and simply telling them to stop just adds frustration and shame on top of the burden of worry.
Pray, hope and don’t worry…in that order, can work miracles. It is only through prayer that we can gain the virtue of hope and through hope that we can reduce our worry. Now, for the individual suffering obsessive compulsive disorder or extreme worry that is interfering with their day to day activities, more help is generally needed and working with a Catholic Therapist who they can trust that will not lead them into sin or error is a crucial step for conquering worry and scrupulosity.
It’s God’s will that we be happy…believe it or not! He created us for happiness, yet in this broken and fallen world it can seem like He requires a lot of suffering from believers. Key word here is seems. Even in our trials God will give us peace if we surrender the worry to Him and persevere in hope. Scripture tells us that hope does not disappoint. That doesn’t mean we will attain everything we’re hoping for, but through the power of hope and openness to God’s loving plan for us, He will lead us to even greater things than we dare hope for.
So next time you’re thinking something like “If I don’t check the locks 11 times or I put my left sock on before my right one something bad will happen”, instead try thinking that if you do something differently then something wonderful that has never happened to you before may happen. After all, you put your socks on the same way every day but I’m guessing that most of you have never won the lottery or an all expense paid trip to Hawaii. Of course, there’s no real connection between these things at all, but it’s our attitude of hope vs. fear that will make all the difference!
Here are a few great books for conquering worry:
- From Fear to Faith: A Worrier’s Guide to the Bible
- I Believe in Love
- Searching For and Maintaining Peace
- Ep. 211 Navigating Family Stress at the Holidays - November 22, 2023
- Put up your dukes! The holidays are here. - November 15, 2023
- Ep. 210 What To Do When Your Feelings Don’t Seem to Make Sense - November 15, 2023
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