If you’re anything like me, you’re not haunted by ghosts or goblins. Yet, there’s probably something less supernatural but more real that haunts you and keeps you from growing closer to Christ. Is it a past sin you’ve never confessed? Or is it residual guilt that remains from a sin that’s been long-forgiven and forgotten? Are you haunted by the future – what it will hold or what it won’t? Are you haunted by dreams of success or paralyzed by the possibility of failure? Are you embittered by a painful loss or by someone who has hurt you? Do you live in regret, wishing you’d made better decisions instead of moving forward?
There have been many “ghosts” in my life that have terrorized me, crippled me and kept me from fully living my life and from developing a closer relationship with my God. The number on the scale, for instance, has too often been my barometer for self-worth and happiness. When the number was what I deemed as “low enough,” I was happy (or so I thought). When that little red line crept up, however, I collapsed into a heap of self-doubt. I berated myself. I felt weak. Even though I’ve worked very hard to change this (see my past post on how I work to overcome my body image problems), every once in a while I am too focused on the size of my clothes or how much I’m eating. While it’s important to exercise and to be healthy, it’s easy to fall into the trap of obsessing about my physical fitness instead of the health of my soul. I try to remind myself of this to squash these inner demons.
I’ve also been haunted by worry. When I was pregnant with Madeline, I worried daily about how she was growing and developing. The midwives I used were part of an academic medical center, which didn’t help. They were constantly running unnecessary tests and discussing what might go wrong. To battle these wasteful worries, I started a worry jar. I found an old vase and started dating a piece of paper, scribbling down any worries that were on my mind for that particular day, and then tossing them into my jar. In this physical act, I was handing my worries over to God. This has helped me greatly during both my pregnancies (although I didn’t worry nearly as much with Rachel Marie, partly because I was under the care of an amazing Catholic midwife who put my mind at ease). I was able to focus on the miracle of my growing baby instead of worrying about things that were out of my control and thanks be to God, I’ve delivered two perfectly healthy babies using natural childbirth, something I strongly desired. I still have that worry jar and it comes in handy whenever something is on my mind, especially when it’s something I have absolutely no control over.
Fruitless worry and body image concerns are just two of many “ghosts” I have to deal with in my life. In honor of Halloween, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day I’m going to work really hard to put these haunts to rest. I encourage you to do the same with whatever is keeping you from embracing the present and finding intimacy with Christ.