Saturday, April 13, 2013


A racing mind, accelerated heartbeat, shortness of breath, feeling paralyzed to do much of anything...

The psychological and physiological symptoms are very real and highly variable when we get overwhelmed. The pressures of balancing work and family life, personal struggles, health issues, challenges or trials our friends or family members are encountering, the collective struggles of our community, nation or the world can easily overwhelm us and create anxiety.

The past couple weeks have been a little stressful. I have seen a particularly heavy workload at work that has added to the already heightened anxiety of looming cutbacks at the university for which I work. Home and auto repair bills seem to coming fast and furious—like the unexpected oven repair. It's tax season. Everyone has extreme cabin fever (or maybe it's seasonal anxiety disorder) because my spring flowers are still under a six-foot pile of snow in my front yard. And the horrors in the news, particularly the Gosnell trial, break my heart and prompt a big fat "WHY?"

Each of us deal with the anxiety in different ways, some more healthy than others. I prefer to bottle it up  until it explodes all over someone close to me. Well, I don't prefer to do that, but that seems to be the unfortunate default more often than not. I prefer to hash things out with the Big Guy through prayer. A quick flash prayer of "Jesus, Mary, Joseph help me" is very therapeutic.

Ideally, prayer therapy leads to a different kind of being overwhelmed—being overwhelmed by the unfathomable love and mercy of God.

Easter is the season that helps us re-focus on that overwhelming love. I couldn't help being overwhelmed by Jesus's ultimate expression of love when venerating the cross on Good Friday. The joy was overwhelming us we proclaimed "Alleluia" Easter Sunday. God's infinite mercy overwhelmed me celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday.

Just like biblical encounters with the risen Christ overwhelmed those who experienced Him, we need to allow our encounters with Jesus—both the grand and the simple—to overwhelm us.

Whenever I pause long enough to accept the love and mercy offered, there is a physiological change in me. Instead of those anxious symptoms, God's overwhelming love has the opposite effect—it calms the mind, it soothes the heart, it offers peace. And ultimately, that love drives us to act and share it with others so they too may experience the wonderful gift offered to all.

Next time life, or the news, or anything else overwhelms us to the point we feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, let's shift our thinking to let the Good News overwhelm us like a tidal wave and be encompassed by the saving love of God.

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