Medical issues, broken marriages, financial struggles, addiction and general dissatisfaction all plague our society with anxiety and fear. In fact, studies show 33% of people in the United States feel they are living with extreme stress with 48% feeling their stress has increased over the past five years. Tied in Knots: Finding Peace in Today’s World (Our Sunday Visitor, 2017), by Greg Willits, is the positive response our restless world needs.
“If you are dealing with a wound, whether deep or shallow that has left you feeling particularly alone, I want you to know this book is especially for you,” states Willits.
In this book, readers will find clear, practical guidance for overcoming worries and conflicts that tie up our lives. But Tied in Knots isn’t just about dealing with these afflictions— even more, it calls on readers to rediscover who they are and how to find lasting joy, purpose, and peace.
Willits draws on his own experiences to furnish readers with tools to push forward and face whatever knots arise without fear. As Willits states: “Remember that God doesn’t want you stressed. He wants you to be joyful and full of hope in him.” In Tied in Knots, you’ll find how to make that truth a reality.
Enjoy this excerpt from Tied in Knots.
We can imagine our lives like a ribbon, fluid and moving. At birth the ribbon is laid out flat and smoothly before us with unknown and endless possibilities. As the years pass, however, and difficulties mount against us, knots begin to twist and form in the ribbon of our life, tangling us into balls of stress and worry. Time often allows knots to work themselves out as memories and emotional pain fade away, but some of these memories form worse knots that often grow tighter still as we wrestle against them.
In time, rather than working with a smooth ribbon, we begin working against ourselves, or perhaps against others.
But what if the knots in your life actually found their way there to save you? What if I told you that one of the best ways of finding peace with that knot is to stop trying to untie it?
Looking back, I can easily see the blessings that came from my most difficult situations:
I am SO GLAD I went through the heartache of painful breakups with girlfriends in my youth, because those lessons led me to realize what kind of woman I ultimately wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
I am SO GLAD I went through the various and many relocations of my youth, because they taught me fierce independence and self-reliance and the ability to be nimble in quickly changing situations, which has time and again been such a huge blessing in my preposterously varied careers.
I am SO GLAD I had those health issues a few years ago, because they were a catalyst to finally taking control of my weight and exercise, and I ended up dropping more than sixty pounds and discovered the incredible stress relief of simply going for a walk several times a week.
While it’s nice (and so much easier) to be able to see the blessings in hindsight, how much better would our lives be if we learned to see many of the blessingswaiting to happen when we find ourselves embroiled in a knotty situation?
While it may seem completely backwards and even counter intuitive, to try imagining blessings coming from present difficult circumstances, this concept is not really anything new.
In fact, going as far back as the Gospel of Matthew we see eight specific examples of knots people may encounter in their lives, along with eight blessings that are promised to come from those knots. Note that the Bible doesn’t suggest that these blessings may come from the difficulty, it says these blessings willcome.
These eight difficulties and their companion blessings, commonly referred to as the Beatitudes, are words of encouragement from Jesus Christ as he began proclaiming the Good News to the world:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt 5:3–12)
Are any of the knots in your life right now reflected in the above statements?
For example, do you feel poor in spirit, perhaps distant from God or others, discouraged in life? Do you struggle with material poverty or financial worries? Do you feel as though the weight of the world is on your shoulders? Do you mourn the loss of a loved one, or perhaps the loss of status or employment or some other situation in life? Is there some unanswered prayer that hangs around your neck like a noose?
As you read through the eight Beatitudes, maybe you can clearly identify with one or more of them. But even if your particular situation is not so clearly aligned in the beatitudes, the premise holds that there is benefit to first clearly identifying the knot troubling you, then focusing on the blessing the stress is pointing you towards, and then working forward from that place.
In other words, while we cannot predict the future, how might you take the knots in your life and develop a beatitude from them? … How could this knot be of benefit to you? How could this knot be working to strengthen your character? Is there a weakness this knot is exposing so that you can become stronger, or perhaps simply learn to accept more completely? Is there someone else who may benefit from your knot? Is there someone who needs you to be a model as you suffer through your knot?
The Beatitudes point us more firmly not to the problem or source of stress, but to the blessing. The poor in spirit will experience heaven. Those who mourn will be comforted. The meek will inherit the earth. The merciful will experience mercy. In untying the knots in our lives, we begin to experience peace when we focus not on the knot, but on the potential blessings that knot may contain.
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Copyright 2017 Greg Willits
Excerpt from Tied in Knots: Finding Peace in Today’s World © Greg Willits. Published by Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. www.osv.com, 1-800-348-2440. Used by the kind permission of the publisher.
About the author: Greg Willits is the editorial director for Our Sunday Visitor and the author of The New Evangelization and You: Be Not Afraid. With his wife, Jennifer, he founded the New Evangelizers and Rosary Army apostolates, authored The Catholics Next Door: Adventures in Imperfect Living, and hosted “The Catholics Next Door” daily talk show on SiriusXM. In addition to raising their five children, Greg and Jennifer also produce the weekly “Adventures in Imperfect Living” podcast at www.gregandjennifer.com.