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Why is it we can have total confidence and trust in God's plans with everyone else's life, but not our own? It is easy for me to recognize God's hand in your life... in your misery... in your tragic circumstance, but when the storm hits my own house, I question and doubt. I begin to wonder if my Catholic faith really is crazy and the saints are all just a bunch of nuts.

I spent my summer with the Blessed Mother. I managed to turn a 33 Day Consecration into a four-month plan, but I finally did get there and praise be to God for it. Because no sooner did I give my fiat, uncertainty and disappointment came crashing down on me, and once again, I was hurled back into that pit of doubt and despair-otherwise known as, “Seriously, Lord? THIS is for good?” And I hate this place. I really do. It makes me feel unpleasant, and worse, I become unpleasant. It's more hideous than getting a root canal at the DMV, naked.

Has this ever happened to you? Not the naked root canal at the DMV part; the other part about falling into despair when uncertainty hits. About being so confident and unafraid about everyone else's circumstances, but your own? Because it happens to me more often than I care to admit. I am, however, practicing something that helps get me out of the pit-not immediately but sooner rather than later. I meditate on the virtues of Mary.

Do you know there are ten virtues of Mary? According to the teachings of Saint Louis De Montfort, the ten virtues of Mary are: constant mental prayer, ardent charity, profound humility, universal mortification, blind obedience, divine wisdom, surpassing purity, angelic sweetness, lively faith and heroic patience. Now don't get overwhelmed by this. There is no way any of us can be perfect at all ten virtues all of the time, or quite possibly, ever. Why? Because we were not chosen to be the Mother of God. But, with a brand new consecration to Mary under my belt and the desire to emulate her, I figured if I pick one virtue a month to intentionally focus on, it had to work better in times of trial and tribulation than what I was currently doing (which was yelling at the dog and wondering why on earth my husband has to breathe so darn loud).

I have chosen to work on blind obedience; to fully trust in God's plan for my life and the lives of my loved ones, even when-especially when-I do not understand His ways at all. Even when strapping the dining room table to my back and jumping off of a bridge feels like a safer option. When the ground drops out from beneath you and nothing you planned for or expected appears to be anywhere on God's radar, blind obedience looks as attractive as a 1980's bridesmaid gown. So before I allow myself to spiral into a total abyss of despair and depression, I fly to Mary. I sit with her at the Annunciation. I reflect on her life, which quite frankly was a series of unplanned, difficult to understand events, and I stay in that place with my Mother. I sit with her in that moment when all was changed by her “yes.” Often when uncertainty strikes, we throw aside our “yes” and run miles ahead into the land of “what if?” We let go of God and grasp onto things that give us a false sense of security. But not Mary. Mary loved God enough to trust that all that was required of her was the next one step, not the next hundred miles. She could be blindly obedient because she loved Him more than she loved her plan. What a treasure chest of grace we have in Our Blessed Mother, who took the leap so that we could, too.

On a dog walk with a friend that was filled with both of our projecting and fear over the ones that we love, I finally said it out loud: faith is a leap! It just is. And when we hit these obstacles that aim to knock us off course and throw us into worry, we have to choose this leap. We must embrace this uncertain, unplanned thing in our life and give God our yes, whether we understand it or not, and then... we need to leap... off of our plans and into His. I am not implying that any of this is easy, but boy do I allow my wild imagination and lack of patience to complicate what really is so simple. Leap, or don't leap. Trust, or don't trust. Love, or don't love. The choice is ours.

If you are in the midst of a trial that is uncertain and you feel your doubt increasing, I encourage you to meditate on these ten virtues. Get to know Mary, who knows better than anyone else what it is like to trust that God's uncertain plan is good. Give yourself to Him entirely through her, and do not worry about the future. Will this require you take a leap of the worst kind? Yeah, probably. But as C.S. Lewis says, “The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole-self-all your wishes and precautions-to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead.”

Praying we all take that leap,

Laura

Bible Study

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

 

God's been doing some building in my life that has definitely caused me to wonder why He's “knocking my house about” in this way. We're in the midst of our transition from Maryland to Florida, and the number of things that have gone wrong left me sitting in the Hobby Lobby parking lot yesterday, crying my eyes out. Too much change, too much chaos, too many needs, and too little routine have not been a happy combo. For a little while, I told myself that God was teaching me to not let the little things consume me. Then I reminded myself that this is an opportunity to grow in patience. The thought that earthly frustrations help me long for heaven encouraged me for about five minutes, but at least that was something! But when we found out that our attic is full of rodents and there are poisonous snakes in the backyard, I echoed C.S. Lewis' words, “What on earth is God up to?”

 

Maybe you can relate. Perhaps you are experiencing a season of life when you feel tested and it feels like the rug has been pulled out from under you. Just when you feel you've reached your limit, something else happens that's really overwhelming. There are hardships that we can make sense of, and then there are circumstances that leave us utterly perplexed as to God's plan, and that is a weary, achy place to be.

As much as I don't want to hear it, the truth is, God's plan is bigger and better than my own. His vision for you and me is far greater than the best game plan we can come up with. God is building us into a palace that is fit for a King. The beautiful thing is, He doesn't wait until it's perfect to move inside. He takes up residence when it's still messy and under construction, and starts to do a transforming rebuild from the inside out.

So what should we do in the midst of the pain and discomfort? These are the three tips that are keeping my head above water at the moment.

When you feel tested:

  1. Do whatever it takes to spend time alone with God. Every day. First thing in the morning.

    I know how impossible this sounds in the midst of chaos. But without this time of filling up and connecting with the One who loves us, we are TOAST. We might make it through the day, but we won't do it graciously or with inner peace. Write out what you're feeling in a prayer journal. God cares about your emotions. Then ask Him for whatever is the antidote to those needs. Read a little Scripture. The following verses might be consoling: Psalm 18:2; Psalm 34:18; Isaiah 63:9; Lamentations 3:22-26; Romans 8:18; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 4:12-19, 5:6-10. I have found the devotional Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman to be a great comfort.

  2. Remember that the people around you aren't the enemy.

    When our circumstances are overwhelming, our need for everyone around us to just behave goes through the roof. The smallest things start to irritate us much more than they normally would and the desire to let frustration out makes blaming others pretty tempting. It's important to remember that everyone's just doing the best they can and that everyone's got their own pain. Within a family, we need to remember that we're all on the same team. Cutting each other slack and giving each other the benefit of the doubt is really important during stressful times.

  3. Have a good cry and then do something delightful.

    It's amazing how much better you can feel after a good cry. Sometimes you just need to get alone, have an ugly sobfest, then wash your face and put your make up on again (because walking around splotchy faced will only depress you more). Then look for some little happy thing you can do. It doesn't have to be big, but try to build something into each day that just brings delight.

As my mother told me today, this too shall pass. And each thing we endure does have a purpose, and is being used by God for something good. I'm preaching this to myself, friends. It's a hard pill to swallow when we just want things to get easier, but the truth is, when the palace has been built and we're able to see what God was up to in the midst of our trials, it'll all be worth it.

“For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
2 Corinthians 4:17

Blessings in Christ,
Lisa

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