When There Is So Much to Fear

Mailbag time: What to do when it all seems like too much . . . (and if you make it to the bottom there's news and shopping, yay!)

The Question:
Hi Kendra, I found you blog a new months ago and have so enjoyed going through your old posts and soaking up all the good advice! My husband and I recently got married and had our first little one on our 9 month wedding anniversary, so our family is very young. I know you tend not to write about politics or opinion pieces about current events (there's plenty of that out there) but I feel like I could really use some guidance in light of what's happening in our world. How do you stay hopeful in this world? I find myself feeling so sad and scared everyday, and even guilty for bringing such a beautiful, innocent baby into such a messed up world. I don't even know how to be proactive and make it better. I feel like a sitting duck at home with my baby. How do you handle that? I don't want my daughter to grow up being afraid, but there is so much to fear! I pray about it, a lot, which does help. Is there a question somewhere in there? How do you get past the crippling fear that something bad will happen to your babies? Do you have a favorite prayer? Thank you so much. Been a rough week. Annie

The Answer:

Hey Annie, and thanks.

It's a fair question.

And first things first, depression, and postpartum depression especially, are real things that can't just be shrugged off or pushed through. If you feel like you have more than everyday anxiety, please seek help from a professional. Many women have gone through this before you, and getting help . . . helps. But if it's just worry, I have some thoughts about that.

I used to be a worrier. Not so much about big, important world events, but I was constantly worried about control of little stuff like traffic and slow checkout lines who was thinking what, and all the little minutia. What changed it for me was reading this book about/by Mother Angelica. It's not even really a biography, just a collection of quotes and insights. Reading it, I was floored by her faith and trust. How she really did trust God to take care of her and how that gave her an incredible boldness in all her endeavors. I wanted that freedom and confidence she had.

I realized, that if I was worried, what that really meant was that I didn't trust that God was really there, involved in the details of my life. So I started praying for the gift of faith and hope and trust.

It happened that we were going on a trip to Italy shortly thereafter and I got to put my new resolution to the test. We were supposed to board a train from Rome to Venice and wanted to squeeze in one last church visit to St. Paul Outside the Walls, and we cut it too close. My dad had stayed at the train station to watch the luggage and had loaded it all onto the train. My mom jumped on board, but Jim and I had the kids and they closed the doors right in front of us and the train pulled away. And there we were. I had the train tickets in hand, bought in the US, nonrefundable and nonchangeable, and that's it. Husband, thank God, and four little kids and a pregnant belly, but no suitcases, no passports, nothing.
And in that moment, I knew I would normally panic. But somehow, I didn't. Somehow I knew that however it went down, it would be okay.

And it was.

They didn't have to, but they put us on the next train, and they radioed the train we missed to tell them that my parents did in fact have tickets, and they bought us a pizza. It was lovely.

And now, I can really, honestly say, I am not worried about stuff.

It's not that I think bad things couldn't happen to me. I know that they could. We've just taken a risk on a crazy huge fixer upper house. It could be a dream or it could be a disaster. I understand that. But I also know that no matter what happens with money or houses, I am a child of God and I can be a Christian in any circumstance.

If I imagine the worst, the absolute worst scenarios . . . my husband dies and we become destitute, I get wrongfully arrested and my children are taken from me, I have to watch one of them suffer through a long illness, they ALL die in a car accident. Clearly, there's no human way I would be able to handle any of those things. But when I read the lives of the saints and I read how they faced terrible tragedy and kept their faith and got through it with God's help, I know the same would have to be true for me. I don't understand HOW, but I believe it would be true.

I know that as long as my priorities are right I can find joy and serve God no matter what happens to me, no matter what happens to the world.

So, how can I really be scared of anything in life? And, for a Catholic, death is nothing to fear at all. (As long as I get myself to confession on a regular basis.)

As for kids, I firmly believe that a troubled world is all the more reason to keep having babies. They bring our family so much joy.

We were sitting in the living room the night after the terrorist attacks in Paris, saying our family rosary. The big kids were being good and sitting in a seat as per our family rules, but we often let the two and four year olds just run around as long as they aren't too noisy. And the two of them came up with this game, rolling over each other on the carpet. It was just the cutest, most hilarious thing. And the rest of us are all trying to continue saying the rosary through our shoulder-shaking laughter. It was a really beautiful moment. And it made me so grateful to have this font of joy in my home, at a sad time in the world.

And it's my hope that each of these little people will grow up and go out into the world and make it a little better. A little less dark.

So, I guess my advice is, read the lives of the saints. Ask God to increase your faith. If you feel attacked by despair, say the St. Michael prayer. Remember St. Padre Pio's advice to Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry. Listen to Jesus and St. JPII who said again and again, "Be not afraid." And remember, when it seems like you can't do it yourself, that's because you can't. But God can.


Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You're thinking of this guy.) If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching, please consider it my error (and let me know!). I'm not a doctor or an expert on anything in particular. I'm just one person with a lot of experience parenting little kids and a desire to share my joy in marriage, mothering, and my faith.

If you've got a question, please send it along to catholicallyear @ gmail . com . Please let me know if you prefer that I change your name if I use your question on the blog.

And now, from the more stuff I never thought I'd be doing file . . . Sarah wrote to ask me if I could resize the Blessing for Beer print so she could put it on a pint glass for her husband for Christmas, which is a really great idea. And I totally could have done that. But we are taking this week off of school. So I spent the day making a Printable Prayers Shop at Cafepress.

I made this stuff:

And much more, including posters, framed prints, and baby blankets in the most popular designs from the Etsy shop. And oh, yeah, pint glasses:

I can't believe I didn't think to do it before! Anyway, if there's a particular print of mine you'd like on something (pajamas, computer bag, dog shirt) just let me know. After all, 'tis the season for shutting the kids outside and trying to get some stuff done.

Update: Argh. I licensed the little Star Wars guys from the artist who created them, and got permission in writing from PicMonkey that I was allowed to sell items with the superhero overlays. But CafePress flagged them as potentially in violation of copyright and all orders of that stuff is pending approval. I've pleaded my case via email. But we shall see. The stuff without little guys is all available. And you can still get the prayers themselves on Etsy. Sorry for the trouble and delay. Sir Topham Hatt would be so disappointed.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, America!