As I write this a smattering of rain is hitting my window. The sounds are calming and soothing; an occurrence that belies the fact that there is currently a Category 4 Hurricane barreling down towards my neck of the woods. Tampa, the metropolitan city that was the backdrop of my childhood, is in the crosshairs. From the forecasts it does not look pretty.
Irma has been called the most powerful hurricane ever, a seemingly hyperbolic statement that is anything but. Earlier this week, Irma devastated the Caribbean islands; there are hundreds, if not thousands, across the islands displaced and without shelter, food or water. We will not know the full extent of the damage of this storm until after it has completed its course.
Needless to say, I’ve been a nervous wreck all week. I’ve stayed up late worrying about each conceivable situation and days fixated on each updated tracking of the hurricane.
Thoughts swirled in my head and there seemed to be nothing to stop it.
Do I have enough water and food?
Will there be electricity?
How will I get a hold of my family?
The repetitive thoughts of fear churned in my head like a machine.
Floridians are too familiar with these thoughts but this has been the first time that we’ve collectively had to deal with a hurricane of this force and magnitude. It truly is unprecedented.
Earlier this week, it was nearly impossible to find gas and shipments of water were scare. The devastation of Hurricane Harvey, just a few weeks prior, created an unforeseen logistical nightmare in Florida. There was a deep sense of foreboding hanging in the air and whispers of the apocalypse as entire counties contemplated evacuations.
Which brings me to the crux of the matter:
Christ asks us to trust Him through every single scenario and in every single situation.
I know I failed by allowing my anxiety and fear to cloud me from the truth, but His Mercies are evergreen.
Situations like this are when our faith is tested and our mettle is put to the grind.
Christ promises us peace that transcends all understanding but like anything else in the spiritual realm, we need to ask. We need to pray.
God has given us free will. We can choose to rely on ourselves, forgoing Grace in place of independence or we can hand over our problems and fears to the Almighty where He will protect us.
I have been at rest these past 12 hours. After praying, finding verses, and writing, God has graced me with His peace. A peace that is promised to all of us as faithful children of His Kingdom.
How to Regain Peace When You’ve Lost it
1. Speak to God About All that is Troubling You
When we are anxious we must speak to the Lord. I often tell him absolutely everything that is bothering me from the mundane to the tragic. There is nothing that is not important to Him. Doing this allows us to develop our trust in Him and allows Him to act. God will never work against our free will, He will not act unless we ask Him. Speaking to God makes it much easier to turn to him in times of trouble.
2. Call Upon the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirt, called the Comforter, will give us peace and strength when we do not have it. A simple prayer like “Come, Holy Spirit” is sufficient for the flame of peace to be enkindled in our hearts. He is the fires of boldness given to the apostles during Pentecost. He is the quiet whispering of the soul at the top of the mountain for Elijah. He can and wants to be those things for you too!
3. Pray for the Intercession of the Saints and Angels
The Saints and Angels are our friends and family. They care about us and all of our trails. God has also entrusted a guardian angel to each of us, they are our lifelong companions and guides. I feel protected when I pray to St. Michael the Archangel, my spiritual brother. I also pray for the intercession of Pope John Paul the Great, he is a true spiritual Father. Remember, the Saints and Angels pray with us to God the Faith pleading on our behalf. Even diving into Saint writings and biographies is usually enough to bring me confidence. Never underestimate the Strength of the Saints!
4. Connect to Mary
Mary is our Mother. Her titles include Our Lady of Victory, Our Lady of Peace and Star of the Sea, for good reason. She is Christ’s secret weapon to bring peace on earth and to us. Who else but our mother could hold our hands and keep us safe while we gain victory over the storms and troubles of our life? Mary is just as protective and loving towards us as she is to Jesus, her child on earth. In times of trouble call to Mary and she will lead us to Christ- just as she pointed to Christ at the Wedding feast at Cana.
5. Write Down Your Fears
This one may or may not work for all people. I find that it works amazingly for me but it may exacerbate nervous energy for some, so please use prudence when deciding to use this activity.
The goal of this exercise is to write down all of your fears- all the worst case scenarios and possibilities. After writing down all your fears, from the outlandish to the highly probable, you figure out how God will be able to guide you through that possibility. Do this through prayer. I have found this to be beneficial for me because it’s an easy way to remain realistic about what may or may not happen as well as figuring out some contingency plans. It helps me regain a clear mindset especially when it’s most needed.
6. Delve into Scripture
In the Bible we find the Living Word of God. We are moved and changed and molded thanks to God’s Grace. Christ says that His Words are Living Water. You can find the promises of Christ throughout the Old and New Testament. Usually doing a quick google search yields very promising results. From there I can read the chapter pertaining to the verse in order to gain context and understand what God is trying to reveal to me.
Here are some versus that have brought me comfort.
I pray that they will comfort you too.
- And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10
- Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1
- He made the storms be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Psalm 107:29
- When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
7. Practice Gratitude
This exercise is the opposite of the “fear” exercise. Instead of writing down what troubles you, write down everything little thing that you are grateful for. This works best when it is as exhaustive as possible. Are you grateful for shelter, are you grateful for dry clothes, are you grateful for jokes? It doesn’t matter how small the thing is. Creating of list of gratitude enables you to take those lenses of fear away and open up your heart again. When we are grateful for what we have we are better able to praise God even through a storm.
8. Call Upon the Name of Jesus
As faithful Christians we know the strength and power found in the name of Jesus. Through His name the winds are calmed, death ill are healed and the lame can walk. Call out to the Lord in your distress! He will hear and answer us, there is nothing that we can not ask Him for since He is our Lord. He has promised to stay faithful to us and to protect us in all things.
9. Meditate or Do Breathing Exercises
This exercise, although it does work for those that do not believe, it works to it’s fullness when centered on God.
The focus of this exercise is to find a place of stillness and focus on one thing. You can focus on a Bible verse that is soothing, you can focus on something that brings you joy or you can even focus on something as simple as your breathe or the feeling of the chair under your body. The point of it is to connect to the Holy Spirit within you, in that quiet space you can invite God to bring you peace. Whether it’s a quite room or not, bright or dimmed, small or large doesn’t matter. Before beginning pray to God to illuminate you and invite the Holy Spirit to enter into the moment. The Carmelites, as well as other religious, have used this sort of prayer for millennia. It is an incredibly useful and helpful spiritual practice and one of my favorites!
10. Finally: Find Joy!
Fear and Joy cannot live in the same place. You will find that your fears disappear when you allow yourself to experience joy. Find a book movie, or tv show that comforts you. Bake your favorite dish. Spend time with your friends or call your family. Do something that will get you out of your head and into your heart. Once you are in your heart then you can ask God with child-like Faith to maintain you peace and joy. He will not let you down.
This is not an exhaustive list but it should be a good way to start your journey to regaining peace. I know that I tried several of these before getting to a place of peace. I pray that this will bring you closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Praise God even through this storm!