Trust, even Afflicted

One of the first concrete experiences I could point to when I I began looking for  ways God asks my trust in Him was one I couldn’t even remember, and yet I knew it was certain: my adoption.

My adoption was the first indication of God’s love for me, but really it began at conception and the decision of the young woman who carried me not to terminate her pregnancy. God was at work through all that, and yet it took me almost half a lifetime to have my eyes opened to it.

I am enriched with that knowledge—there are moments when it overwhelms me—of being a life choice by someone I will never know. And yet, my trust can still flag in ‘dark’ moments that pull me away from trusting God, despite that He’s shown me a most impressive love in my being here on this earth. It’s those dark moments that cause me to teeter toward falling or tumbling into disbelief and doubting God hears me when I call out.

This is a real area of concern for me, as I’m currently working through a personal quagmire that’s lasted many months and at times brought great despair. I’ve found myself asking how can a God so good be so silent to my pleas. Am I the one spoken of in the Psalm for the Afflicted? (Psalm 102). In truth, there has been more good than bad in my life, yet I still wrestle with doubt, wondering where God is leading me, and how I’m to confidently walk with Christ. I haven’t yet seized the surety—the unfailing absoluteness—of not doubting God’s plan, and that pains me.

I long to develop a spirit that’s stronger than my doubts, one that recognizes the promise and context of Psalm 46:10 to “Be still and Know that I Am God.” In my stillness as an infant I never crawled…I went straight to pulling myself up on nearby furniture and walking.

My goal on my earthly journey is to pull myself up and walk in trust with Christ.

Religion on the Cafeteria Plan

I’ve made mention of the book Living with Thorns in previous blogs, and I recently found another of its statments inconveniently, absolutely true: “We seek to know through Scripture what God’s purposes and secrets are. This understanding protects us from the tyranny of self-absorption.” That statement made me do a little self assessment, only to sit back and say “wow.”

I’ve heard it said many times that a majority of Catholics are branded “Cafeteria-style” Catholics. If you’ve never heard this, it’s not a complimentary moniker—nor do I subscribe that it is applicable only the Catholics. As hurried, self-aborbed, self-satisfying individuals sharing this earth, we all can succumb to this type of approach when it comes to religious and/or moral decision-making.

Picture a cafeteria. You’re going along selecting what you like, not necessarily what’s good for your nutritional health. You take the juicy burger. You add a heaping side of french fries. You select a biggie soda. You pick a slab of pie. Satisfying to the taste buds, but not really good choices for a balanced meal. But you’re in a hurry. You’ve got meetings to attend, appointments to be made, e-mails to answer, texts to return, internet apps to download, calls to make, TV to watch…so much to do. So it’s just easier to pick and choose what makes us immediately happy. And over time, it becomes habit-forming. It’s how we operate. If we don’t like it, we don’t take it. We sign up for the cafeteria plan and call it a day.

More and more, we do the same with religion, faith, and Scripture. We attend church when we want (or not); we listen to the psalms and readings that make us feel good; we choose which will be our favorites, worth noting, the ones that don’t make us uncomfortable or ask much of us. But those parts of the Bible (or Mass, or the Sacraments, or worship) that make us uncomfortable? Ask us to make sacrifices, use our gifts, embrace—submit to—God’s Word? No, thank you. That doesn’t satisfy.

A few years back, Al Gore had a book titled An Inconvenient Truth. Whether you read it, or not, doesn’t matter. But that statement certainly does, as it applies to so much about today’s world and how we make our choices in everything, and that includes God.

The bottom line to this post? There is responsibility to this life on earth, and it’s not meant to be convenient at all. That doesn’t mean that we are not supposed to enjoy it. But it does mean that there will always be choice, in both good and bad times. Picking and choosing your way through life, selecting only the easy, the quick, the self-validating will only deepen our self-absorption at the expense of understanding that the privilege of living this life is often inconvenient.