August 28, 2009

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

During stressful times in life, trust that God is in control

Debra Tomaselli“Abba, Father,” he said. “Everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine” (Mk 14:36).

I stress out over finances. I inherited it from my mom, whose childhood was largely affected by the Great Depression.

As a school girl, Mom remembered her stomach gnawing with hunger. For her, second-hand clothes were the norm, and entertainment consisted of playing stickball in the streets.

As a child, Mom’s family reprocessed leftovers, curtains, shoes and household goods long before recycling was fashionable.

But even after financial health was restored, Mom clung to concerns of financial loss.

Although my dad’s job as an aerospace engineer provided well, she taught us to squeeze the life out of a toothpaste tube, add water to the bottom of the empty ketchup bottle and choose store brands long before the term generic was stylish.

Without even realizing it, Mom, long deceased, had passed on invaluable skills to help me cope with this current economic climate.

But I also inherited her fears. When my husband and I began to feel the effects of today’s recession and our financial boat started leaking quicker than we could bail it out, fear gained a physical foothold in me and I began having difficulties taking a deep breath.

It seemed that when I would inhale, I could never grab quite enough oxygen. Sometimes my lungs felt like they were wrapped in a straitjacket. No matter how I breathed, occasionally I just needed more air.

Yawns didn’t help. Trying to suck in extra air didn’t work. Each breath seemed just a bit too short. Although I suspected anxiety was the culprit, it took a lung X-ray to confirm it.

“Let’s talk about how we’re going to deal with this,” the nurse said when my tests came back normal.

“No need,” I responded. “I know what’s causing this: fear. I know what I need to do.”

That is when I visited that gentleman in Gethsemane. I got on my knees—figuratively, not literally—but dropped down right beside Jesus, and looked over at him.

There he was, covered with fear, sweating great drops of blood. Just like him, I was physically shaken. Just like him, I saw a scary future. Just like him, I prayed to the Father. And, just like him, I submitted my desires to the plan of God.

“Thy will,” I echoed, “not mine, be done.”

I meant every word and, in that surrender, my entire body relaxed.

My husband and I have managed our money well, and made it a priority to live within our means. We have never been unable to pay our bills. I dread to think what the future could hold if this economy doesn’t turn around soon.

No matter what happens, though, I am convinced of one thing: God is in control. If God brings us where we don’t want to go, then we can only trust that this, too, will somehow glorify him.

I believe it. And in that belief, I can breathe easy again.

(Debra Tomaselli lives in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Her column appears in several diocesan newspapers. Her e-mail address is †

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