When I reflect on my life with its highs and lows, I note a consistent antidote to the low times: God.

Historically, during trying times I have been able to find peace when I look to God and surrender to Him. This can be incredibly difficult amid a crisis, especially when well-meaning people assert their thoughts and opinions.

It’s also difficult because we as humans allow pride to take over in troubled times. We want to control the outcome of situations; we want to be rid of this bad happening right now! So, what do we do? We worry, we stress out, and we become anxious.  We spend a huge amount of time trying to figure out ways to manipulate a situation for our desired result. And where does that lead us? It leads us to more stress and more worry, and it moves us away from God and away from peace.

Usually, for me, the source of anxiety in situations is that I want to control the outcome, and I can’t. It is at this point I’ve learned to stop, take a breath, and ask the Holy Spirit to pour grace over me, and upon exhaling, I surrender my worry or anxiety to God. The freedom and relief I feel from this action is a grace in itself.  This has taken a lot of practice with a daily renewal of my surrender to God.

How do we do this? How do we surrender when we have such a tight grip on our idea of how we want things to turn out?

Talk to God Through Prayer

Just as we build trust and relationship with someone through communication, so too must we do this with God. We cannot expect Him to work within us if we don’t allow ourselves to be accessible. When we are resistant to communicating with God, we need to ask ourselves what is stopping us from trusting God and surrendering to Him. There is usually something in us that is broken and preventing us from receiving Him. God wants to shine a light on this part of us, but our pride and need for control get in the way of His showing us. Building trust and a relationship with God will bring us closer to healing and peace.

Go to Confession

I have passed on to my children that in times of restlessness or indecision, the way we find healing and peace is through confession. Once again, our pride can get in the way of us receiving the grace that is found in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We play head games with ourselves, rationalizing why we aren’t going to confession: “God knows my sins and forgives me,” “I’ll do it next week,” or “My sins aren’t that bad.”

Meanwhile, we continue to be weighed down by our egotism that we can do it ourselves without God. Pride is our unwillingness to come forward and admit any wrongdoings. Walking into a confessional, laying out truthfully our sinfulness, and asking for forgiveness is an act of pure humility and surrender. In doing this, the grace that follows joins our will with God’s. When we place our focus on God and ahead of ourselves, we find peace.

Eucharistic Adoration

There is no better place to find peace than to be in His presence at adoration. While sitting in the quiet stillness in front of the monstrance that holds Our Lord and Savior there is a palpable serenity. That serenity, that peacefulness is Him. It is here in adoration that our surrender happens. While spending time in front of Jesus, take a breath and call upon the Holy Spirit. Allow that space that is filled with angst and worry to empty and let Him fill it up. What is He saying to you?  What is He asking you to do or no longer do? Let yourself sit in that for a while. Even if it’s uncomfortable at first, stay there and let God speak to you. Let Him take that anguish or sorrow from you. Let Him speak truths to you and allow yourself to accept them.

We spend so much time in stress, worry, and surrounded by noise. Look to the quiet and the stillness and there you will find God. Within God, you will find peace.

—Valerie Parzyck is director of family faith formation and youth ministry at St. John Vianney Church in South Burlington.

—Originally published in the Spring 2024 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.