Have you ever found yourself in the midst of chaos? For about a year or so, my life has been in a state of chaos. It's been mostly of the spiritual and mental kind, but the physical kind has reared it's ugly head on a number of occasions.
I have suffered with panic/anxiety attacks for most of my life, but most recently, the way they manifest themselves has changed....less often....but more intense. After some dietary changes that included some natural supplements that didn't do much to help, it was decided that a change in medication was definitely in order. Honestly, I haven't noticed a difference. As a matter of fact, where some places were almost always "safe" from the anxiety (church and work), I have begun to be struck even in those places!
It's frustrating and quite burdensome. I mean, imagine being at Universal Studios....in front of thousands of people....feeling like I was having a heart attack! After an hour or so in the first aid station....and a wheelchair ride back to the parking lot.....I was feeling better. Embarrassed, but better. Then, imagine attending a dear friend's funeral. She and I were diagnosed with breast cancer around the same time. I chose the traditional treatment route...she chose an alternative. While I was too scared NOT to go the way of traditional chemo, she was very happy and very comfortable with her decision. Her cancer recurred and spread. I made it through the vigil and rosary just fine. However, while watching her casket come down the aisle of the church....I lost it! I suddenly couldn't breathe! I felt a terrible urge to RUN! I'm told it's a "fight or flight" response. Whatever it was, I left the church with cold, clammy hands....my heart beating so fast I thought it would pop out of my chest and nausea. I almost drove myself to the E.R.....seriously. Instead, I skipped the funeral reception and went straight home....to bed!
The chaos is not limited to my anxiety attacks. It also lives in the twenty thousand hoops I'm having to jump through with my kids back in school....it lives in the 5 days of work I must do in 3 days (at my place of employment) and still keep up....it lives in the endless money struggles that force me to use coupons and keep them organized....it lives in the laundry piles and the moldy grout in my bathroom. It lives in the undone crafts and seasonal/liturgical activities that look so good on paper but we never seem to be able to find the time to do. It lives in the constant worry of the cancer returning, helping to complete homework, giving my husband the time and intimacy that he deserves.
Where is the peace? Does it even exist?
Spiritually, I have felt uneasy for quite some time. On top of everything else, sin can add it's own chaos. As a result, I've avoided the confessional. I thought that by not thinking about or addressing my transgressions, it would save me additional stress. Ha ha, God is so funny!
Saturday, I was at my wits end. After suffering a horrible anxiety attack while DRIVING ON THE FREEWAY, I decided that enough was enough! I am done with this! Done, I tell ya!
I got up yesterday with a purpose! Since Nathan was serving mass, we had to be there early. I took the opportunity to go to confession. I didn't really feel like dealing with it, but I knew that I could not go another day! I felt that if I spent too much time doing an examination of conscience, I'd walk right out the door. So, I got on my knees and asked the Holy Spirit to bring to mind everything that needed to be confessed. I held my breath...and went in. I told him everything! I told him about my short temper with my kids and my husband. I told him about my judgemental tendencies, I told him about my recent despair. He listened and smiled....and reminded me that I am not alone! He reminded me that God is in the chaos! He is there in my fear and anxiety. He is there in the midst of my laundry and moldy grout. He see me when I'm overwhelmed with household duties and work commitments. Father also lovingly reminded me that if I have been feeling distant from God...it was not because God had moved away from me. On the contrary, it was I that had moved away from Him.
Wanna know what I found in that confessional? The peace I had been searching for. Father kindly reminded me of the blessing of Perpetual Adoration that our parish offers! Imagine that! Jesus is there for me...Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity...24 hours a day, 7 days a week and I seldom find any extra time to visit. He gave me some wonderful advice! He said, "Nancy, go sit with Our Lord. I don't want you to say anything. Don't even worry about praying. Just sit. Be with Him." And you know what...I did!
Today, I left 10 minutes early to pick up the kids from school. Instead of getting in the maddening car line that haunts me....I parked the car and went into the Adoration Chapel. I had about 15 minutes of quiet solitude. I tried not to thing about anything and just keep my mind and heart clear and open to whatever God wanted to do. A few times, my mind wandered to the things I needed to get done (costumes for Nathan's choir program on Thursday and the meatloaf I was making for dinner)....but when I realized it...I would stop and clear my mind again.
Dan came home to a peaceful house, a more calm wife and happier kids. Before bed, we said a decade of the rosary and then watched a short movie.
Things aren't perfect. When I walked into the girls' room to tuck them in.....I was greeted by dress up clothes all over the floor and the box of crayons spread out across the room. I let it go....even though I broke the yellow-green one on the way out. So their room is a mess....big deal! It will get cleaned up and messed up at least another 2000 times before they move out! Someday, they'll have kids of their own and be frustrated just like I am.
For now, I'm just pleased as punch to have some peace back into my life. I don't know how long it will last, but I know where to go to get filled back up again!