During the course of her life St. Jane Frances struggled with anxiety and some depression. She had great difficulty learning how to forgive and spent her entire life dealing with bouts of doubting God’s love, and His existence. Eventually she came to a place of serenity and focus in spite of these difficulties by continuously redirecting her thoughts to things other than her internal pain. Serenity in emotional pain, imagine that!
Anyone who has struggled with depression, obsessive thoughts, and/or anxiety knows how hard it is to turn away from the pain and function well in life. St. Jane Frances modeled several ways to move in the right direction.
First, she never gave up looking for help, even though she once ran into a spiritual director that made her symptoms worse! Second, when she finally found a good director/counselor, St. Francis de Sales, she candidly poured out her pain, doubts, and fears to him. The third example she gave us was to listen and obey the good advice given to her—-do your duty, continuously redirect your thoughts, and make statements of faith regardless of how you feel. In addition, when told she could and would have to live with her trials, progress in faith through them, and be a gift to others because of (not in spite of) them she proceeded to accept herself as she was and bent a knee to the Lord. In doing this, she allowed Him to work through her in His way.
Today, there are many good people who can help us with our mental and emotional ills as well as deal with the difficult situations that often trigger and perpetuate them. So accept who you are, persevere in your trials, and never give up trying to find the right combination of physician, counselor, spiritual director, and/or other support. In the meantime, try to follow the advice of St. Jane’s adviser. If it helped her it probably can help you too.
Happy Feast Day St. Jane Frances de Chantal! You, who knew such hardships, pray for us as we go through ours!
picture is public domain, found on Wikimedia Commons