The past few weeks, I feel like the media is full of stories that I just can’t support. Tales of governmental action, judges ruling on certain issues, one woman’s choice to end her life, some blogger railing against the latest topic du jour. My personal beliefs are such a mishmash of both sides of the American political spectrum that I end up mad at everyone, Democrats, Republicans and Independents. There’s a small subset, the group of people that Dorothy Day would call kindred spirits, who are simply “Catholics”, who I can usually agree with and say with a sigh of relief “YES. Someone finally gets me.”
But there’s been a thread, an undercurrent, that’s been tugging at me through all these stories, and I wasn’t quite able to put my finger on what it was. Things all smashing together, mixing in to a pot of my life and perspectives and observations. In my life right now, I’m just overwhelmed. I so clearly heard God this summer say to me “Trust me, you need to focus on your family and your vocation and not worry about all the other things.” And I did (mostly). My journal that I take to adoration is full of the phrase “Jesus, I trust in You”. It’s a phrase from the Divine Mercy devotion and it’s really been my motto lately. Not to say it is easy to live every day, but it’s pretty persistently THERE in my life.
And so I combine that personal experience with my public experiences. And I contrast God’s message of “Trust me” with what all these different stories have in common: “I want to control my life.” That’s the difference here. Brittany Maynard, who killed herself last week, wanted to control the circumstances of her passing. She didn’t want to give up control of her body to cancer. She didn’t want to give up control of her medical decisions, if she ever became to incapacitated to make her own choices. In the pro-life/pro-abortion debate, the “right to choose” is really about a right to “control”. Bodily autonomy, at the expense of killing someone who CAN’T control their life at all. When it comes to discussing social services, the taxpayers “right” to control where their money goes and the desire to control the actions of those who receive aid. Governments who want to control their people at the expense of their liberty. A radio host I love was talking about ouija boards and the occult, which all finds its root in control, wanting to control what we know, wanting to control future events because knowledge is power. And so it goes on.
The word “control” isn’t found often in Scripture. Mostly showing up in passages about wars and who was controlling what land. A few times in the context of the virtue of self-control. Trust comes up much more often, mainly in the Old Testament, relying on God and trusting Him. But what’s especially powerful to me is the Divine Mercy devotion. For those who aren’t familiar, a nun in Poland saw an apparition of Jesus who told her, among other things, to have a painting commissioned of Him, with the inscription “Jesus, I trust in You”. The painting is a depiction of Jesus with red and white rays flowing out, symbolizing His mercy.
To me, THIS is the message our culture so desperately needs to hear. The mom who is at home all day, struggling through postpartum depression and no money and no socialization needs to say “Jesus, I trust in You”. The man who just lost his job and doesn’t know where to turn, needs to say “Jesus, I trust in You”. The college student struggling to make decisions about their future: “Jesus I trust in You”. The person just diagnosed with cancer, “Jesus I trust in You”. The great-grandmother who enters hospice care with days to live: “Jesus, I trust in You”. All of us need to hear this message of trust and mercy.
And to be clear, I am not saying that if you trust in Jesus, all your worries will disappear. Hell no they won’t. There is a reason the prosperity gospel is (rightly) called a “heresy”. Being a Christian, trusting in Jesus, does not mean that everything is rainbows and butterflies and unicorns. It’s the opposite in many ways, there’s suffering, persecution, death to self, and no control. It’s terrifying if you think about it. But when you truly let go of the control, let it all rest in Jesus and TRUST, then peace comes. And it doesn’t matter what happens next. Because in a way, this whole life is just a preparation, a cleansing, so that when your God given time comes for you to meet your maker, you are ready in your “wedding garments”. You are cleansed, pure, holy.
It’s not easy. I’m not saying it is. I’m not saying that I trust in Jesus every single minute of every single day. It’s a journey. Just how like you don’t trust your spouse the minute you meet them, eventually you trust them with everything. And marriage is a symbol of our relationship with Jesus… as you get to know him more, and put your trust in him more and more, you see that you can trust him with everything, with more than you could trust any person on earth. It’s possible, it takes work and trust. But it’s there, if you just fall back into his arms.
(For the record, I hate trust fall games, and refuse to participate. But it’s a nice analogy.)