Don’t be anxious; instead, give thanks in all your prayers and petitions and make your requests known to God. And God’s peace which is beyond all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7).
I have heard this Scripture literally hundreds and hundreds of times. I have heard it in church, seen it stitched on pillows, heard it quoted, sermonized, elaborated on to no end, and yet, on a daily basis, I find it nearly impossible to live.
Other translations say be anxious for nothing. And yet, every day I find myself anxious about money, and time, and the constant pull in too many directions. For many, anxiety can be completely debilitating, and it is a very real illness to suffer from crippling anxiety.
Some days are better than others, of course, but this time of year in particular, it can be so easy to become overwhelmed by all the demands of life and with the unrealistic demands we put on ourselves. And yet we were created to be at peace. We are created to be in relationship with the God of Peace, yet so often on this road to holiness we allow the burdens of our vocation to rob us of our peace. Saint Therese of Lisieux is one of my favorite saints because she is always reminding us that it is in the little things that we grow closer to God. Herein lies the encouraging word of the day for us mothers because our whole job consists of little things—little things that often go unseen or even ignored. Much of our job is thankless, not because our families deliberately take us for granted, but because they just can’t see the big picture yet. Particularly for you mothers that have only small children, trust me, it gets better! As our children grow, so does their ability to be grateful for what we do; their gratitude flows over, and the younger ones follow suit. Just think of all the things you never realized your mother did for you until recently, when through your tears you find yourself asking, “How on earth was she able to do it?!” So how do we find peace in the little things? How do we find holiness and happiness in the minutia of housework and child-rearing? Or how do you amazing working moms find peace on the days you feel divided, or guilty, or just plain exhausted? Father Jacques Philippe says it perfectly in Searching For and Maintaining Peace, a book I never tire of reading: If I am still not able to remain at peace when faced with difficult situations, then it is better that I should begin to strive to keep this peace in the easier situations of everyday life; to quietly and without irritability do my daily chores, to commit myself to doing each thing well in the present moment without preoccupying myself with what follows; to speak peacefully and with gentleness to those around me, and to avoid excessive hurry in my gestures and in the way I climb the stairs!
Let’s not forget the part of that famous Scripture that tells us to bring our petitions and make our requests known to God. He is not denying that we have needs and anxieties, he is just giving us a more effective way to deal with them. Our life becomes a prayer, and our prayer becomes to align ourselves with God’s will. Peace that passes all understanding—that definitely sounds better than what happens when I try to do it all myself.