As I was working out in the yard on this gorgeous warm day, my neighbor stopped over and plopped herself on the front step. I know that when she sits down, we are in for a looong talk. She knows everything about everybody and we seem to cover every subject there is. But, she is the only neighbor who really makes an effort to talk to us; everyone else only waves, if even that. So I appreciate her company.
She is not Catholic and I never really got the sense that she was religious, so I was really surprised when she began to talk about the End Times. "We're in the End Times, you know that, don't you?" she asked me. Yeah, I know that. I think everyone knows it, even people who claim not to believe in God. Things are screwy with the world, and it's not just Target. It's not just wars and bombings but attacks against people in general. It's gotten personal.
"I'm just glad I don't have little kids anymore." She remarked. I have heard that from everyone lately. "If I did, I would probably homeschool them, though I'm not smart enough. They can't even go to the bathroom without some guy walking in on them!" She clucked and shook her head.
I began to feel the familiar turning of my stomach as we discussed every bad thing there is to discuss. My palms began to sweat and my heart began to pound with anxiety, and the bright sunny day began to fade away.
Last week I had an anxiety attack over all that is happening in the world. The war against families, against our children, the President trying to rule our children's schools, Target and their craziness. It doesn't end. There is bad news every other day, something sickening, something frightening. And now this talk about the end of the world. And all I can think of is the future of my kids. Or wonder if they will even have one.
The End. It almost feels like a diagnosis of cancer or some terminal illness. I find myself wondering how long we have until the stars fall out of the sky and sun becomes darkened.
I looked at my work on my front lawn. All the hard work we've done to make the house a more comfortable and pleasant home for our family. "Is it even worth it??" I ask myself. "Will a tornado come down and sweep it all away? Will the end of the world happen when we finally complete our last project and we won't even be able to enjoy it?"
My neighbor is oblivious to the anxiety our conversation is causing me. She continues to talk on, alternating from standing up to sit in the shade, to sitting back down on our step to bask in the sun. Suddenly, without warning, she says something that snatches all the fear away and puts my spinning world back into right: "But just think. Someday Jesus will come and all this craziness will end. It says so right in the Bible. Something about some lady coming down and being lit up or something..."
"A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars..." Revelations 12
Yes, a Woman. I know that woman, I wanted to say. She is my mother. She is yours too. She beats the dragon at the end of the story. She crushes the head of the Serpent. We don't need to be afraid of the battle, for she has already won.
I feel the knot in my stomach loosen and my heart starts beat at a normal pace. Yes, I have been afraid. The world has turned into an untrustworthy scary place. But if I keep my eyes on Him, all becomes right again.
"I have told you these things, so that in Me, you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
After my anxiety attack last week, I asked the Lord for something. I asked Him for courage. We need courage these days. Courage to continue on and continue to live, despite the fact that evil is overcoming this world. God did answer my prayer, and He has given me some tools to fight off fear.
I fight off fear by laughter. I am learning to laugh these days, to snort at things that in the past would worry me or distress me. Nothing bothers the devil more than someone who won't take him seriously. St.Theresa of Avila got the devil to quit pestering her by laughing in his face. It's quite effective! Oh I'm not saying I necessarily sweep it all under the rug or bury my head in the sand, but I am putting my focus on God. That is how I am able to laugh, to enjoy life. I realized what a waste it is to live in fear. No crazy law or crazy President can take away our faith in God except for us. We can do that to ourselves.
I fight it off by the rosary. I have stopped praying it and there's nothing like a whole bunch of evil to get you back on it. So I guess, thanks for that, Obama.
A priest recently said (paraphrasing) "Keep your eyes on Christ and you will be alright. But take your eyes off of Him, and you will slip into the madness."
And so it's back to the rosary I go. It is my choice of weapon to fight evil, to stay on track, to keep my eyes on God. When I say my rosary, whether it is dry or not, I always feel I have done something good. I have done my part by fighting evil. We have to keep saying our rosaries though. We have to make time to pray because God always makes sure that there is a time in our day to pray...
....sometimes we just miss it. Or we fill that time up with something else. But we've got to get back on our knees instead of waiting for a tragedy to bring us to our knees.
Pray, laugh, and hope.
That is how we Christians get through the tough times. We don't worry; instead, we should sit beside our Lord and let the storm rage around us, and perhaps, we should be content to sleep right through it right beside Him.