These are the powerful mountaintops of Switzerland. I was awed at the massiveness of the mountains and how tiny this little village looked tucked inside their walls. This village is filled with everyday people with everyday problems, like you and I. I wondered, were these mountains their refuge, their protection or were they an obstacle that kept them isolated?
Have you ever been in the midst of a crisis – feeling paralyzed – then you hear something that just resonates so deep, you know it was God speaking to you? True, the words may come from mere humans, but the force in which the words grab you – the power that they hold – just affirms His presence living within us.
Blood was drawn, symptoms reviewed, and after weeks of waiting for results, we walked into this sterile room behind my 22-year-old daughter. The room was deafly quiet after the basic pleasantries were exchanged. My daughter hopped up on the table, while my husband and I took our place in the two metal chairs in the corner of the room. It was as if I were in a movie that was being viewed in slow motion, every movement was so precise. My body stiffened as my daughter was told that at 22 years old, it was believed that she had Multiple Sclerosis.
In a matter of moments, a million mother-thoughts raced through my head, when suddenly I said to myself “don’t lose it, turn to her and be there for her – be strong, Linda!” She had just graduated from college five months earlier. She had her first job lined up. She was in love and happy. She had everything she deserved and worked hard for. “Be strong, Linda”. I turned my head, and there she was, no longer a 22-year-old woman, but once more my baby girl, shaking in disbelief, tears streaming down her face. I immediately jumped out of my seat and onto that table, cradling her in my arms, wracked in disbelief.
Earlier that year, our family experienced a series of difficulties and disappointments, including my mother-in-law entering a nursing home for Alzheimer’s. I remember after morning Mass one day, just sitting quietly in the church, surrounded by its peacefulness, and reasoning with God: “Lord, you have tried me and my family, and I’ve accepted those crosses, but I’m getting weary. Is this almost over? The kids are grown and life is supposed to get easier, isn’t it?” I sat for a moment or two more and very clearly, in my soul I heard the words “I’m preparing you for more – are you ready?” What? More? No, I’m not ready! I’m having trouble with this. A month later – my father-in-law passed away. “Is this the more, Lord?”, I thought. I had no idea what was in store for the next few years.
For months we dealt with doctor appointments, learning how to give injections, calling specialty pharmaceutical companies to learn about meds, and proper medical waste disposal boxes, etc., but there was very little discussion about MS. My daughter hated every bit of it…………and so did I. I just pushed those feelings down deeper and deeper – I didn’t want to make my daughter sad by bringing up the topic. Our life stood still.
Days would come and go and yet I felt as though my feet were planted in cement – stuck in a place I hated and could do nothing about. I dreaded waking up. I mourned what was, and feared her future. Despite the well-meaning prayers and concern of others, their remarks were a constant reminder of our new reality. I wanted to stop the world from spinning and just get off this ride called life. How could this have happened?
Watching my daughter, who was 22 at the time, take on these challenges infuriated me. This was the beginning of her adult journey. The world was just beyond her grasp – so beautiful and bright. A few months after her college graduation and she was dealing with the diagnosis, new medications, appointments and relationship changes. This monster had stepped in and stole everything away. I was angry, overwhelmed, disappointed, and scared.
Once more I found myself on my knees in prayer “God, please, no more – take this all away. Let it all be a bad dream. Restore all that we had.” when I heard these words:
Instead of telling God how big your problems are, try telling your problems how big your God is!
Isn’t that what growing in our faith is all about? Trusting Him when we cannot see the bigger picture? Slowly the scales began to fall from my eyes and I began to see the strength of my little girl. She may have hated what she now had to do in her life, but she asked questions, made decisions and took small steps to navigate this new road. It was her conviction to press forward that changed my prayer from God take this away to God, you are all powerful and mighty. You created the heavens and the earth. Throughout history, You chose to give Your people challenging situations to navigate. With many of those situations, and in Your time, You breathed Your life and Your truth into them and proved that even the impossible is Your reality. Her healing is not beyond You. You can restore her in Your time.
There are days I still need to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and say, Lord, I trust You, but I need to hear you. Speak to me and reassure me that You hear my cry. Dissipate my fears and show me Your power and truth today. This is what it means to believe. It doesn’t mean that we always have it all together. It means we’re going to have to, time and time again, surrender all our fears and emotions and trust that His promises are bigger than any situation in our lives. Like the mountains of Switzerland, we can take refuge in Him.
This experience has transformed how I pray; to shift my prayers from focusing on what is happening to Who is in control. Let Your Kingdom come, Let Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. I have a part to play in this prayer. His Kingdom will reign on earth when we learn to submit to His will. To completely abandon our very emotions to His care. To offer our suffering in communion with Him and trust that His grace is sufficient enough to see us through.