There are times in our lives when we see our problems as massive mountains in front of us: insurmountable and permanent. These mountains remind us of how small we are, and when we’ve got big worries, that’s not a comforting thought.
When I was in high school, my looming mountain was college. Though there are so many factors that go into picking a school, I was absorbed with the idea that my decision came down to ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ In painting it black and white, I combined all of my worries about graduating, leaving home, and finding a school into one big mountain of an issue.
Now, as I near graduation from college, I find myself heading down the same path. When I start to think about my post-graduation life, I am preoccupied with the notion that I will never find a job. Every test, every interview, every application — each one feeds my anxiety and escalates the height of my worry. You’d think I would’ve learned from high school, but repeating past mistakes seems to be an innate human flaw. We learn, but we also have a tendency to second guess what we know.
The common trend among my worrying is that I lumped my problems together. Rather than recognize them each as their own individual issues, I saw them each as relying on one another for my overall success. In watching others in my life go through similar bouts of stress about their futures, I don’t think I’m alone in this.
We need a change in perspective. Maybe if we imagine our worries and doubts as singular rocks in our path, instead of a massive mountain, our problems will become more manageable, and we’ll be less discouraged in our attempts to handle them. Surely, we can handle moving a few rocks out of the way, even if we need to ask for help.
Start with the small things.
From difficult classes to stressful work situations, there are a lot of rocks that stand in our path on any given day. But by narrowing our focus to one obstacle at a time, the question of overcoming the problem becomes simpler: how do I get past this one stone?
Instead of looking at each job application I submit as a life or death situation for my future career, I can look at them as individual opportunities — to succeed or simply to learn something.
Whether it’s an upcoming exam, an argument with a friend, or a deadline at work, if we take on these worries as they come, we prevent the stress caused by other problems from filtering in and impeding our ability to handle each issue on its own.
Every obstacle is an opportunity for faith.
What if we considered that these stones aren’t meant to trip us up? What if we could look at them as opportunities to grow in faith?
Faith is built by trust — trust in God and in ourselves. God created us with certain gifts, each aimed at helping us to be the person He intends us to be, and those gifts just might help us lift those rocks out of the way.
That being said, we need to trust that our future is not just in our own hands. At the very start of our lives, God laid out a plan for us. Releasing that control relieves us from the pressure of having to get every little thing right. Conquering our obstacles is not only up to us. We lighten the weight of our worries when we give a little bit to God through prayer.
Build your faith with each stone of worry you move past.
When we give our problems to God, we use those stones of worry as stepping stones to a stronger faith. Looking at the obstacles in my life right now, it is not difficult to see the little ways in which I can grow in my faith. Though they may not all look like typical acts of faith, they work to build my trust in God, little by little.
Faith is accepting that I’ve done the best I can on my final exam and turning it in. Faith is taking the time to go to Eucharistic adoration even though I feel like I have too much work to do and not enough time. Faith is smiling at the bus driver when I’m exhausted because I’m sure she is, too.
Faith is accepting my limits and trusting in a God whose mountain-climbing abilities surpass my own. Even though I don’t always feel like I am practicing my faith on these days, the small moments add up and make a difference. Faith is holding on, even if it’s only by a thread.
As we change and grow, our faith does too.
Right now, that is where I find my moments of faith. Ten years from now, or even ten days from now, my faith might look different. Whatever it looks like, it is still the source of comfort and confidence that I can rely on to get through trying times.
It is in changing our perspective and our approach to the little things that stand in front of us that we can find ourselves slowly climbing the “mountain” before us. If we build our faith as we climb rock by rock, when we get to the top, we’ll have a mountain built on faith rather than worries.