I struggle with trust.
People who struggle with trust usually also are pretty good at nervous breakdowns.
I have to be perfect. I have to do everything by myself. I will fix myself. I will solve the problems. I will make the things happen. I will make the rules. I will set the terms. I feel safe when I do this because I know I won’t have to depend on anyone except myself.
Except, oh yeah…I’m a human being, which means: I’m not perfect, I usually have no idea what I’m doing, and when (not if) I fail and something goes horribly wrong, the only one I can blame is myself. And then what? Not only will I not trust other people, but now I won’t even trust myself.
The other day as I was on the verge of a minor breakdown, a friend got pious with me and reminded me of that classic Padre Pio phrase: Pray, hope, and don’t worry.
“Go away,” I thought. “Easy for you to say.”
Jesus said something similar:
“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear…Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Mt. 6:25-33)
Easy for Jesus to say. Easy for “those” people who’ve got it all together to say.
(Nobody has it all together.)
Padre Pio was on to something. If God is who we say he is, if he is the provident Father, the protector and creator, the builder and restorer, the healer and the lover, then why don’t we turn to him? Because his will is hard and the only way to follow him is to pick up the cross we don’t get to choose and trudge along forever until we hit Gloryville. And, besides, what is his will for me, anyway?
This year, make Lent about living those three admonitions of Padre Pio.
Pray: don’t just ask God for stuff. He’s not going to give you that Audi anyway, so give it up. Instead, approach prayer with the knowledge that you’re not talking to empty space and that you are being heard. Don’t focus on asking for things, but on relating things. Tell God what you notice about your life. Are you sad? Acknowledge that for what it is and tell your Father about it. Are you happy? How come? Mad? What happened? Acknowledge your emotions, your thoughts and feelings and desires and just present them to the Father. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid; prayer, remember, is the safest place on earth.
Hope: You are being heard. God does not destroy. Sometimes he “takes apart” for the sake of rebuilding, but he never destroys. Any demolition that might have to happen in you is so that Jesus can fulfill his promise to make all things, all things, new – that includes you and me. He wants to make us new from the inside out. The places of pain become places of glory; the places of struggle will soon become places of victory; the places of desolation and shame will soon become the seats of God’s glory in our lives.
Don’t worry: Again, easier said than done. Everybody worries about all kinds of things. But if we’re not praying and relating these worries to the Father and really putting hope in the Father’s love for us, the worry consumes us and limits us. Life in Christ is not meant to be one of limits and borders and boxes, but of freedom and peace. He came that we might have life, and have it to the full!
Pray for the virtue of hope. Ask for the grace to trust. And in all things, seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. And let’s pray for each other.
Here’s a prayer that I love that has been so helpful to me in recent weeks:
Litany of Trust
From the belief that I have to earn Your love … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that I am unlovable … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the false security that I have what it takes … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that trusting You will leave me more destitute … Deliver me, Jesus.
From all suspicion of Your words and promises … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the rebellion against childlike dependency on You … Deliver me, Jesus.
From refusals and reluctances in accepting Your will … Deliver me, Jesus.
From anxiety about the future … Deliver me, Jesus.
From resentment or excessive preoccupation with the past … Deliver me, Jesus.
From restless self-seeking in the present moment … Deliver me, Jesus.
From disbelief in Your love and presence … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being asked to give more than I have … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the belief that my life has no meaning or worth … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of what love demands … Deliver me, Jesus.
From discouragement … Deliver me, Jesus.
That You are continually holding me sustaining me, loving me … Jesus, I trust in you.
That Your love goes deeper than my sins and failings, and transforms me …Jesus, I trust in you.
That not knowing what tomorrow brings is an invitation to lean on You … Jesus, I trust in you.
That you are with me in my suffering … Jesus, I trust in you.
That my suffering, united to Your own, will bear fruit in this life and the next …Jesus, I trust in you.
That You will not leave me orphan, that You are present in Your Church
…Jesus, I trust in you.
That Your plan is better than anything else … Jesus, I trust in you.
That You always hear me, and in Your goodness always respond to me …Jesus, I trust in you.
That You give me the grace to accept forgiveness and to forgive others …Jesus, I trust in you.
That You give me all the strength I need for what is asked …Jesus, I trust in you.
That my life is a gift … Jesus, I trust in you.
That You will teach me to trust You … Jesus, I trust in you.
That You are my Lord and my God … Jesus, I trust in you.
That I am Your beloved one … Jesus, I trust in you.
Litany of Trust by Sister Faustina Maria Pia, S.V. Learn more here.