How many times do we find ourselves facing struggles, obstacles, hardships and difficulties in our homes, workplaces and ministries? They’re everywhere. We’re human, there is sin, evil and discord. However, there is also purpose, mission, goodness and victory which is desperately waiting to be unveiled in our broken world. One of our purposes here on this earth is to bring Jesus Christ into these challenges so as to be living witnesses of Christ’s victory over death. As Catholics we believe in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Without the horrible crucifixion there would not be the glorious victory of the Resurrection.
Last week, I came across paragraph 85 in The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium) written by Pope Francis. He addresses defeatism. What’s defeatism you ask? The simple definition of defeatism, as defined in Miriam Webster’s dictionary, is a way of thinking in which a person expects to lose or fail.
Pope Francis says the following, “One of the more serious temptations which stifles boldness and zeal is a defeatism which turns us into querulous and disillusioned pessimists, “sourpusses.”
As I contemplated this, I began to think of some of the challenges that I have faced over the years and tried to think of why I’ve accomplished some goals and why I’ve not overcome others. Sort of like that sin that you have to confess over and over again or when you have to keep asking yourself the question, “why do I still struggle with ________(fill in the blank) all of these years?”
I, personally, have struggled with losing weight for most of my life. I often wonder why I haven’t been able to conquer this challenge once and for all. After reading Pope Francis, I realized that I truly lacked the confidence needed to achieve my goal because perhaps, in my mind, the mountain is simply “just too big.” I’ve had this struggle for such a long time that I’m just tired of trying but then I get a burst of energy and courage and am ready to try again. A lack of confidence in myself has caused me to lose half the battle before I’ve even started. Going forward will be different. I am committed to drawing my strength from Christ, the Sacraments and his example of victory over death.
Below are 5 steps that will help you “attack with aggressive tenderness” the challenges that you are currently facing.
1) Acknowledge our weaknesses :
* Shine a light on the darker parts of our being; none of us are perfect
* Be honest with yourself
* Let go of any or all of the 7 Deadly Sins that are tormenting or binding you right now
2) Draw strength from Christ:
* Search for Scripture verses on the internet to find an image with a scripture that can encourage you daily or read the daily readings
* Ask a priest for a blessing after mass
* Go to confession – get rid of the sin that is weighing heavily on you
* Pray, Pray, Pray
3) Prepare ourselves mentally, spiritually, physically for the battle ahead:
* Think positive thoughts
* Have a plan
* Be convinced of victory before you start
* Build confidence
* Find courage – the Holy Spirit will help you!
* Get enough sleep
* Wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day
* Ditch the junk food; eat better
* Drink water
*Don’t deny your body the fuel it needs to get you through your battle
4) Take action:
*Go! Start! Begin! Not tomorrow, NOW!
*Take the first step, followed by another and then another
5) Persevere through the struggle or problem until you find peace:
*If you fall, get back up!
*If you’re tired of starting over, stop quitting!
Problems always arise, difficulties inevitably show up, struggles show their ugly heads, but the victory that Christ won over death, gives us undeniable hope for the challenges that we authentically and genuinely desire to overcome. Jesus Christ is where we draw our strength and confidence and it is in Him that we find our Supreme Example of Victory!
”Seek good and not evil, that you may live; then truly the LORD, your God of will be with you.” Amos 5:14