By Mary Ryan, Columnist
I have trust issues. I used to write the word ‘trust’ on my wrist so I would remember throughout the day to try to just let things go and trust that God has a plan. My whole life, I was told to not worry! To just trust in God and that He will provide… Much easier said than done, my friends. I’m sure you’ve all heard the same thing on numerous occasions. But how do we actually put our trust in God? How can we tell God without a single doubt or hesitation, “I give you my life” and then not be anxious about the outcome? It seems pretty impossible. But I’m here to tell you that it is very possible. To some who know me, hearing this coming from someone they know to have anxiety and a life full of constant stress, this may be shocking. Like I said, I have trust issues… But I’m a work in progress.
Sometimes I find it really hard to accept that I am here for a specific intention and that it doesn’t matter what the people around me are doing, because I wasn’t made to do what they are doing. I often find myself comparing my work to that of others and feeling like I’m running a race, so to speak. I know that many of us tend to feel that way–it seems to be a constant problem, especially living in a nation where hard work, rising to the top, and changing the world are ideals that are pushed on everyone. Life becomes a competition. It’s like a race to see who can be the best in their field, who can put the best work out, who can make the biggest difference, who can be the most holy. But none of that matters. Each and every one of us was created imago Dei (in the image and likeness of God) and was crafted by our Father for a very specific purpose. Once we realize that, it becomes a little clearer that it is perfectly necessary for us to swallow our pride and see things the way they truly are. This is called humility.
Humility, I’ve found, is the key to trusting in God. It is SO incredibly simple, but can be SO incredibly difficult, especially in the society we live in. Humility is not being prideful, but not being self-deprecating, either. It’s simply just seeing things the way they are. When we are humble, we acknowledge the talents and gifts that God has given us and we use them to the best of our ability. We also acknowledge the talents and gifts that God has given others. But we don’t have to compare ourselves because we can see that God created us all for DIFFERENT purposes and for SPECIFIC purposes. We have the gifts and talents and abilities that we have so that we can fulfill those purposes. The people around us have their gifts and talents and abilities so that they can fulfill their purposes. So if each of us was created with a completely unique and defined skill set, why do we compare ourselves to people who we were not made to be?
Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” We, in our minds and hearts, have control over our own pride, our own self-deprecation, and our own humility. We have a choice in how we see the world. We can see it as a place to run the race of life, tiring ourselves out with constant comparison, and causing ourselves perpetual emotional distress and feelings of never being good enough because we are not as talented at our job as our coworker or we are not as smart as our classmate or we are not as pretty as the girl next to us at the gym or we are not as holy as that guy infront of us at Mass. We can be obsessed with things of this world. OR, we can simply take everything in and see things as God intended them to be, realizing the value and individuality of each person around us and the value and individuality of ourselves as well. We can realize that we are here because of and for God.
The last part to this, is that once we can see the world in the way God intended, we must act through the freedom and love that God created us with to manifest our humility and trust through our actions and words. It is not enough to just think humbly and trust God in our minds. We must act in a way that shows how much we trust God with our whole heart, body, mind, soul, and being. This might entail not putting yourself above others or deprecating yourself when someone else performs better than you. This might mean accepting a compliment. Or it might mean giving a compliment. Acknowledge yourself and the people around you with love. Do not make life a game of comparing or a race to the top–make it one of harmonious striving to fulfillment of the purpose God had when He made you.
I hate to say it, but this isn’t something that will just come automatically and stick with you forever. It’s like when someone decides they want to go on a diet for the New Year and then by the afternoon of January 3rd, they’re on their twelfth cookie. Many of us live lives that are full of comparison, and we struggle with finding the balance between pride and self-deprecation that is humility, where we see everything as it is. The way we can slowly begin to see the world with clearer eyes is through daily prayer and time with Our Lord. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6-7).
During this Easter season, I challenge you to spend 5-10 minutes each day in prayer, asking God to strip you of your pride, that you may see things the way He does. Ask Him for the grace of wisdom and understanding to see why He gave you the gifts He has given you. Ask Him for the grace of peace, that you may be content with the fact that there will always be people who are better at certain things than you are, and content with, but not prideful of, the fact that you will be better at certain things than other people. Ask Him for the grace of joy, that you may rejoice in the beautiful life that He has given you. Never wish that you were created differently. Don’t insult the artist who created the piece of art that is you. Humility comes through grace and grace comes from God. In order to fully trust God with your whole heart, pray for the grace to be able to trust in God. Five minutes isn’t that long…instead of watching that last YouTube video, say a quick prayer and ask God for the grace to see His plan and to understand why you are who you are. Ask Him to see the world and to see yourself through His eyes.
I read a quote today on the Instagram page of Emily Wilson, a Catholic speaker, by a woman she knows named Mrs. Nick. Mrs. Nick said something that really wraps up the point that I’m trying to make here:
“Sometimes you may have heard me say that you are a thought of God. Let me elaborate on that notion. It’s like God had this great idea…He was toodling around heaven, doub to doub to doub…and He stopped in His tracks. Wait a minute. Wow…of course. She (or he) is exactly what the world needs, right here, right now, this minute. And then you were and here you are-and no one can take your place. No one can do for the world what you alone can do. If you weren’t here, there would be a hole in the heart of the universe, and everything would be off-kilter and out of order. There is a purpose in you–that you have all the talents needed to be and do. So I’m going to ask you to do something you may not have planned on doing–I want you to trust God…the God who thought of you. Trust that there is a reason for you that is divine, holy, sacred, and worthy of love. Close your eyes for a moment, and imagine with me God toodling around heaven thinking about you. Trust God that He’ll help you make His dream of you come true.”
If we truly believe in an all-good and all-powerful God, what do we have to fear? Trust Him and know that there is a reason for everything happening in your life and a reason for your life. Don’t doubt His divine plan. Be humble and trust.
Mary Ryan is a Columnist for Clarifying Catholicism