The Roller Coaster
Do you ever max out your worry bank? It’s like a credit card account; you get a worry limit and at times life throws you so much to worry about that you max out. You can’t worry anymore, it’s just not possible. You are forced to surrender.
That happened to me last week.
Can you guess where I was last week? (See the pic) I had the privilege of accompanying my daughter and her family on a trip to Disney World. That’s the last place to be fraught with worry you say? It’s where smiles are born. It’s where otherwise mature adults don mouse ears and matching t-shirts and spin around in tea cups.
Which is exactly what made me realize my tendency to worry is deeply rooted. Not even the Magic Kingdom could completely extinguish it. I worried about getting Covid. I worried about the plane going down. I worried about renting a car by myself for the first time. I worried about navigating the route to where I was staying. I worried about losing one of the grandkids in the crowds, and mostly I worried about my other daughter, who is due with their first baby this week, going into labor while I was gone.
It seems to be how I am wired. It is a weakness I have that I know God is working on with me. I pray on it but the evil one preys on it.
We are learning about discernment of spirits at Firstfruits as we study Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s book, Discernment of Sprits, An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living. In it he explains how the spiritual life is like a roller coaster ride through times of consolation and desolation.
One minute we are soaring high, arms waving in the air from feelings of deep joy, peace, and connection with God and around the next corner we plunge into more of a restless, confused, and anxiety ridden time when we doubt God’s presence and nearness.
The key is to be aware that what we are experiencing is truly a normal part of the spiritual life. To understand what is going on and to take action to either embrace it when we are in consolation or rebuke and fight it when we are in desolation.
My propensity to worry is fertile ground for the enemy to plant the seeds of spiritual doubt. I really have to be on guard when I find myself in worry mode to not let it take me into spiritual desolation. It’s where I can plunge into a scary place and forget all about the loving, caring God that has an eye on me and is in control.
At those times when we can be tempted to doubt is when, as it says in the book, we need to “insist more” on the spiritual habits of prayer and meditation. We need to pray for God’s protection and meditate on his love. Then open our eyes to his consolations.
His consolations were many. There was Mary, the kind woman behind the rental car counter who went out of her way to make sure I was taken care of. The protection we experienced four days later on our way to Disney, when we got a flat tire going 70 on the highway. It happened just a mile from the rental facility so within an hour we were on our way with a brand-new rental car. The plane ride was smooth, the GPS was accurate, we didn’t lose anyone at the parks, and my daughter is still waddling around with a basketball for a belly! All is well.
Small reminders to me of who is in control.
With arms waving in the air,