Who’s in charge of your life?

I was 17 years old when I handed my life over to God, although at the time I did not know it. It was then that I became involved in ministry in my parish; first, with the St. Vincent de Paul Society and then other ministries that I could share my time and talents with. Life became very busy, and at times, overwhelming. I thought I could control it all. Man, was I wrong! 

Even today I become anxious about ministry, whether it’s planning or running youth events, parent meetings, Sacrament preparations, choir practice or Liturgy. And each time I try to remember that I am not in control here — God is! “Be strong and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go” (Josh 1:9).

We all face difficult times, some of us most days. Through trials and hardships, sadness and depression, we call out to God, “Why me, Lord? Why is this happening to me?” I see daily updates of family and friends on Facebook. Once in a while I read about someone who can’t take it any longer. Nothing’s going right. It seems the world is closing in on them. They don’t know what to do. The fix? I see that some just simply want to run away from it all. It’s not that simple. We can’t run away from our problems. They’re ours and ours to fix, but, not necessarily alone. 

The upside to these Facebook updates is that I see many post comments like this, “I need a change in my life.” Therein lies the hope that helps one to understand how to turn things around! First thing to do is pray. This will enable you to begin to give control of the situation over to God! Listen to God and follow His lead and the results will astound you!

Working with youth over the last three decades has opened my eyes to the many issues they face very day. Many of them are very familiar — I experienced them myself. “Why are my parents always putting limits on what I want to do? Why can’t they allow me to do what I want? They don’t control me!” If only I could have understood my parents better in those days I would have realized that all they wanted, and prayed for, was my happiness, and nothing more. If you can realize that now, you will know that it’s not control they have over you. Rather, it’s love they want to give you. 

My mother once told me that there’s no greater love than the love of a mother for her child. I wish I understood that back then. You see, some of us spend years wishing our parents would get off our backs, only to realize they’re the only ones who ever really had our back. Our parents knew all the while that God was, and still is, and always will be in control of everything! We only need to allow Him to do it!

A dear friend of mine, Jose, propelled me into ministry at 17. Yes, it was he who got me started with the St. Vincent de Paul Society. And we have worked together ever since. Recently, however, he had to go to a nursing home. He celebrated his 91st birthday last week, his mind is as sharp as ever. Only his body limits what he wants to do so badly — be a part of our choir at Sunday Mass. 

Last week we had a parish luncheon and I thought it would be great to get him out and join his parish family for an afternoon. I was anxious and nervous, not sure if I would be able to care for him for those few hours. Susan and I picked him up, wheelchair, walker and everything else he needed for a comfortable time at the parish. I wanted so much to be in control, but only for Jose’s well-being and comfort. 

My fears and anxieties were all taken away when we got to the parish. Jose was welcomed home! Memories and good times were rekindled. They even congratulated him with a birthday wish! When I saw the tears of joy streaming down his face I knew at that moment that God had everything under control. And so I realized that my daily prayer was answered, “Lord, I place my life and this day in Your hands. Thank you.” 

 God is always in control!

Anchor columnist Ozzie Pacheco is Faith Formation director at Santo Christo Parish, Fall River.

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