A few weeks ago I awoke to begin what was likely to be a stressful day. My wife was in the hospital recovering from surgery she had the day before and I wanted to go and see her as soon as the kids were off to school. I was scrambling to get my older son packed for an overnight school field trip and help his younger brother pack his lunch and find a missing textbook. I also needed to find time that day to deal with a few pressing work-related issues which demanded my attention. Sounds like a typical day in the home of an American family, right?
With all of this stress and anxiety hanging over me, I opened our garage door to load their backpacks in my car. I was greeted with the sight of a large oak tree branch sticking through my shattered rear windshield which must have fallen on the car in the windy early morning hours after the previous night’s rainstorm. Looking at the damage, I began to laugh. It started as a giggle and then exploded into a full-blown belly laugh which made my younger son wonder if I had lost my mind. How did I go from feeling anxiety-ridden to tension-relieving laughter?
Despite all I was dealing with that morning, the sight of the unexpected and likely expensive damage to my car didn’t send me into a rage, cursing and kicking the tires because of my misfortune. On the contrary, I felt completely calm and at peace. I appreciated the ironic humor of the situation, hence the laughter. Was I losing it or possibly experiencing a little spiritual growth?
I hope and pray it was the latter. Even though I had a full plate of challenges that morning, God chose to teach me a valuable lesson. Even better, He allowed me to experience and savor a fleeting glimpse of real peace as a reminder of His power and my inadequacy to shoulder all of my problems alone. The accident also helped me remember my blessings. Since that morning, I have reflected much on what I am grateful for: my wife’s successful surgery, our Catholic faith, the love of my family, the good friends in my life and most importantly, the enduring power of God’s incredible love for me despite my numerous failings.
The Saints can serve as our role models for how to be at peace as they walked with God in the face of trials and suffering. I know people in my life today who are much more at peace than me in spite of their challenges and I am grateful for their example. The timely sense of peace which God has allowed me to experience has helped me put life in perspective and remember to seek His help in my daily prayer. I am once again learning the lesson that I can’t always shoulder the burdens of my life alone despite my stubborn and prideful inclination to try.
What about you? Do you fall into the same trap as me and try to take on the world alone? How often do you experience true peace? What are the obstacles? Hopefully, you won’t need a tree limb through your windshield or something much worse to get your attention. We serve a God who loves us without reservation. He will always help us if we go to Him in prayer (although not always in the way we may want or expect). When faced with stress, anxiety and the problems of simply surviving in today’s world, let’s remember that our problems could be much worse and reflect on the many ways we have been blessed. If we remember and practice these things, we might just achieve a sense of peace… in spite of ourselves.
Looking for a Catholic Speaker? Check out Randy’s speaker’s page and the rest of the ICL Speaker’s Bureau.
Randy Hain, Senior Editor and co-founder of The Integrated Catholic Life™, is the author of The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work which was released by Liguori Publications. The Catholic Briefcase was voted the Best Catholic Book of 2011 in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards.
Randy Hain’s exciting new book, Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith was released by Liguori Publications in November, 2012. Along the Way was recently named Runner-Up in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Catholic Book of 2012. Learn more here. His third book, Something More: A Professional’s Pursuit of a Meaningful Life, was released in February, 2013. All of Randy Hain’s books can also be purchased at your local Catholic bookstore, Amazon or www.liguori.org.
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Thank you! – The Editors