September 3, 2010

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Remember that God is the ultimate security blanket

Patti LambI am a professional worrier. I am quite accomplished.

Unfortunately, I’ve passed this on to my son, Henry, who is only 5. He still sleeps with a security blanket. (This is just between us, by the way. He is a big kindergartner now, and this would not be good public relations for him.)

But one night weeks ago, we couldn’t find that security blanket. It was nowhere to be found. After searching franticly, he looked at me tearfully and said, “What will I do?”

He quickly followed that up with, “What if [this] and what if [that]?” He rattled off a hundred little fears swirling around in his head. I felt my heart sink.

That little worry wart is a chip off the old block. I am often overwhelmed by the “what if’s” of life. My mind gets spinning, and I concoct some unwelcome scenarios.

My husband gave me a good way to approach those pesky worries. “What’s the worst that can happen?” he asked.

I answered him.

“Then what?” he inquired.

I described to him, in great detail, how my world could unravel.

He continued asking “Then what?” until I arrived at my worst-case scenario in “what if’s.” I announced it out loud to him, waiting for him to throw his hands up, as if to surrender and deem me unlovable.

“Then I’d love you anyway,” he said.

I was touched by his compassion. It was as if God was speaking through him to reassure me.

When you’re not afraid of the worst that can happen, then it doesn’t have power over you anymore.

So, when anxiety comes, as it often does, I ask myself, “What am I clinging to?” If I answer something besides God, then I’ve got to re-evaluate. Everything else is just stuff. Filler.

Here is a pearl of wisdom that I’m learning: If we accept the worst that can happen, and know that, despite what we face, nothing can separate us from the love of God, then we can be at peace as much as possible in this world.

So if you lose your loved one, your health, your house or your job, all is not lost. Futures can seem daunting, especially when we think that we face them alone. But we are never alone. We’ve got God.

The words of St. Paul are like medication to me: “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ the Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).

At my son’s age, a tattered blanket gives him security. But at some point, he will mature and realize that security comes from elsewhere: It comes from God.

I had a very special note that I carried in my pocket over the years. To make a long story short, I laundered it. I used to cling to that note when I was

particularly unsettled. It brought a feeling of connection to someone that I love dearly. It was my magic touchstone. It dawned on me that it was like my grown-up security blanket.

But now when my heart is pounding, my palms are sweating and that note in my pocket is long gone with the rinse cycle, I remind myself that God is the ultimate security blanket, and I’ll never lose him.

Rather than a blanket or a note, we must depend on God, who loves us no matter what.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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