Last week, I joined a Lenten small group. There’s only five of us and we’re reading “Give Up Worry for Lent! 40 Days to Finding Peace in Christ” by Gary Zimak. As someone with anxiety, this small group was simultaneously calling out to me and scaring me away. What better time than Lent to work on my faithful solution to my anxiety?

At the same time, the thought of a small group was uncomfortable enough without having to talk about our struggles. I couldn’t be alone. I mean, a small group where worriers have to talk about their worries? Hilariously, I just imagined a group of us, sitting there, too much in our heads to actually talk out loud.

The reality of the small group was actually extremely comforting. I was finally surrounded by people that understood what I was going through. I know I am not alone, but sometimes it can feel that way. My loved ones try to understand what I am going through, but they can’t always put themselves in my shoes. You can’t fully understand the illogical feelings of depression and anxiety if you don’t have it.

But these people, these four others that also had the courage to say yes to a small group? They understood.

One of the questions we discussed was what we do when we’re worrying and how we cope with worrying. Personally, when I feel worried about something, I just focus on something else. Sounds great in theory, but in reality, it just means that we find ourselves focusing on anything but the actual issues in our lives, both big and small.

However, this group wasn’t all about agreeing with each other on how to avoid life. It’s about living a spiritually worry-free life through Christ. This meant that we shared how we coped with our worries and how our faith helps us. For example, in college, I found that talking to myself helped me put things into perspective and work through things. Now I talk to God in an out-loud conversation. I know that he is listening and is planting small seeds of confidence and trust while I talk to myself.

One of my peers also told me about how they talk with the people that they are close to. I find it hard to do so in fear of being judged and rejected, but she went on to say that the conversations with loved ones have been the most calming and fulfilling. This weekend, I tried having that conversation with a loved one and she was right. The people that surround me are there because God handpicked them as my family and friends. They have the same beliefs as me and only want the best for me.

This experience made me realize that although I have found a way to use God’s strength instead of my own, I still have trouble asking others (humans) for help. But God did not put me in a bubble. He put me in a community. As Catholics, we are a part of a community of faith, meant to help each other through the hard times that we cannot handle ourselves. Do you rely on your community of faith? Do you help others?

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Veronica Alvarado is a born and raised Texan currently living in Michigan. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has published various articles in the Catholic Diocese of Austin’s official newspaper, the Catholic Spirit, and other local publications. She now works as the Content Specialist in Diocesan’s Web Department.

Return to Me

Today’s reading from Jeremiah reminded me of my high school days.  Youth group member, Steubenville retreat attendee, daily-Mass-going 14-year-old me thought she was holier than thou. I prided myself in following the rules, getting good grades and being a teacher’s pet. Even amidst the hormone shifts of teenage-hood I had permitted not a single curse word to escape my lips. In fact, when someone in the locker next to me dared to swear, I would be so bold as to speak up “please don’t use those words”, and then I would turn on my heels and walk away. I had few friends and of course not a single classmate approached this goodie-two-shoes with offers of “a good time.” I felt much like Jeremiah did being verbally attacked and snickered at. Indeed, why should good be repaid with evil?

As I left that atmosphere to dedicate a portion of my teen and young adult years to the missions, I learned that my behavior had more to do with my own insecurity than being truly holy. I clung to religion as my stronghold, followed the rules because of their consistency and familiarity. I remember thinking in those days that I had learned it all regarding my faith. I had already received the Sacraments, was familiar with a good portion of the Bible, had the Mass and many of the familiar hymns memorized… I was going to be SO BORED for the rest of my life with nothing new to learn. Boy was I wrong! I was missing one of the most important elements.

The Psalm declares steadfast trust in the Lord stating firmly: “You are my God” and speaks of His unfailing love. Did snappy requests in front of a locker speak of unfailing love? Not likely. Did gaining favor with every adult figure speaking of steadfast trust? Probably not. Did clinging to rules show God that He was mine? Nope. Like the mother of James and John in the Gospel, I was searching for greatness, albeit holy greatness, when I should have been seeking servitude. I love that quote from St. Francis that says “Preach the Gospel always, when necessary, use words” because it is a lesson that I still have not learned. I long for my relationship with God to be my all, my one and only, the reason to awaken each morning, what eeks from my very being day after day. Yet I have so far to go.

I am so grateful for this season of Lent that affords us such a great opportunity to return to God with our whole hearts. Perhaps this year I will take one step forward in my relationship with my God, my Creator, my Love, my All. “Into your hands, I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.” (Psalm 31:5)

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Tami grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. Attending Catholic schools her whole life, she was an avid sportswoman, a (mostly) straight A student and a totally type A sister. She loves tackling home projects, keeping tabs on the family finances and finding unique ways to love. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. Her favorite things to do are finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby, and grocery shopping with a latte in her hand. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on and, runs her own blog at and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for the past 18 years.