Spiritual Direction

This Is Not Your Concern

I got up earlier today. Well, I could say that about roughly the entire night into morning as Philly is currently awakening me by wet-nose-nudging my hand as it hangs over the edge of the bed. When I am not responsive, he nudges again. When it’s getting important, he jumps on me. When it’s serious he stands on me and growls.

This has gone on while we are trying to figure out his finicky digestive system. Until then… 11pm, 1:45am, 3:45am… and I have a horrible time going back to sleep. Honestly if he wakes me up past 3:30 it’s probably more productive to pretend I’m in a convent and get up with the rest of the truly holy ones. (But I don’t. I try, unsuccessfully, to go back to sleep.)

But all this to say that today I was up and doing all the things earlier. Just as I sat down to put on the tennies for a long walk with Philly, I sat in the rocker – (Ohhhh a new oldie we got at a yard sale (love!)) – and closed my eyes.

That’s when the flooding of unhelpful thoughts rushed in. All of the concerns. I’m not sure why but that was the word (as opposed to worries, problems, fears): Concern. All of the people, events, absences, wonderings etc. that are concerning me.

So I tried something new.

I sat in my rocker, (Philly – a “Velcro dog” – tucked underneath, terrible choice, he likes being near as well as small spaces, and no, I did not rock), and began to tell God all of my concerns. One by one. I quite simply listed them outright. I didn’t explain them. I didn’t defend them. I didn’t complain them. I didn’t say “I know but…” to disclaim them. I just told God “I am concerned about…”, with and for these current affairs at hand. I kept listing until I was done.

You know, the list wasn’t as long as I thought it would be. Maybe that tells me I wasn’t ranting. (That would be a long sit.)

And there were a couple of would be concerns that I was on the verge of vocalizing but stopped… because I realized I actually wasn’t concerned about, with, for that person, place, or thing. And that was nice. It was good. It was important information! …which brings me to the point of saying things out loud to God. Of course he knows your heart. But do you?

And then I sealed it: Lord, I give all of these concerns to you today. Take over everything.

Then I got up and walked my dog.

It was a good, mostly empty, walk. Meaning my mind was emptied of worry because I’d handed it over. And when anything came up again, I either surrendered it over again or reminded myself that God was on it because, well, He has a good memory.

Now we could get into the whole conversation about how God uses us to handle some of these concerns and how there are times when a prayer like this seems too simple because the stakes are just too high. (Though I would argue you’d need to lay those burdens down even more.) But that’s not for today. Today, we allow our concerns to be on Holiday.

So this weekend while you’re by the water, or watching fireworks, or enjoying that huge BBQ picnic, or attending a memorial, for it is after all Memorial Day, do so because you’ve given all of your concerns over to the One who can handle them. Who actually desires them.

But He’s such a gentleman. He won’t take them from you if you really want them. So best to ask.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Mt 11:28-30)

Fleur Dobbins is a Catholic Spiritual director and writer. Learn more about her work here.