Bring God into the Equation

prayinghands

In my life as a priest, it has been my experience that most people don’t call or write or stop by to tell me things are going great in their lives.  Rather, the contrary is true.  I get it. As a culture we don’t usually call a doctor or an accountant or an attorney or a landscaper when things are going well, we wait until something has hit the tipping point and then we reach out.  This is a normal, natural chain of events and I have grown accustomed to not speculating when someone gets in touch with me. I don’t over think it because if I do then I am usually wrong anyway!  So, I wait for it, whatever it is, to come to me.

Yes, I have experienced countless good times with folks – births, weddings, promotions, vacations and countless delicious opportunities to break bread with another.  I thank God for each of these celebrations, they help keep me grounded.  But I have also experienced many horrible, shocking, upsetting, sad, unspeakable things as well.  Things that when I first got started in the “encouraging business” I am sure must have kept me up at night, as they would any normal sane individual.  I have been told things I wish I had never heard because I wish they had never happened.  I have been told things that have made me want to close my office door after someone left and silently weep into my hands.  Unbelievable stories of abuse, hurt, abandonment, fear, sorrow, sadness, the likes of which I truly wonder how we could possibly treat another so horribly. But we have and we do.

We’ve all been there, right?  Had a friend confide in us that something has gone terribly awry in their lives. A child has been arrested.  A parent has cheated.  A neighbor was just diagnosed with cancer. Someone has been abused.  Hearing such tragedy can paralyze us, at least it could me.  What do I do with such stuff?  To the best of my ability I try to be present.  To listen.  To let the other soul know that I hear them; I see them. That they matter.  They matter to me.  Most importantly, that they matter to God.  He hears and sees them too.  And then, after loving and listening, I give it to God.  For God hears and sees everything, and that which I feel completely inadequate to handle, God is completely prepared to handle and receive.

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I have a happy story to share.  Enough years have passed.  A long, long time ago my cousin’s wife invited me to dinner.  We met at a restaurant, and when I got there five seats had been arranged at the table.  I asked who else was going to join us, and my cousin and his wife responded, “You’ll see.”  In a short while a young woman and her almost teenage child walked into the restaurant and hugged my cousin and his wife.  I was introduced to the mother and daughter, and almost immediately I realized that I had met the mother before, but I just couldn’t remember the details.

While respecting the youthful innocence of her daughter, the young mother told me she had mentioned her life’s story to a co-worker. The story was how this young woman discovered she was pregnant, considered ending the pregnancy, and at the suggestion of a friend, met with a young Catholic priest. The priest listened, and cared. He told the mother that she was loved. That somehow everything was going to be okay. The priest asked the young mother if she would meet with a friend of his, and she agreed. After thoughtful conversation, the mother decided to keep her child.

One day at work this young mother told a co-worker her story. The coworker said, “This priest doesn’t happen to be named Chuck?” The mother said “His name was Chuck.”  The coworker / my cousin’s wife said, “And how would you like to get together with him for dinner?”  And that rainy drizzly cold winter night, we all found ourselves sitting around the same table, now almost eleven years later. As the story was being told waves of emotion flooded over me as I realized who she was, and who I was in the story. I thanked God for the gift of the child who was sitting in our midst playing on her hand-held electronic device, thankfully oblivious to the tears streaming down my cheeks. Rarely, if ever, do I get to hear the rest of the story. I’m so grateful God made it possible that night.

Good things can come out of hardship. Grace can be found in the struggle. Redemption is possible.  For us all.

May we all do whatever we can to help alleviate life’s pain and hardship; and may we all do everything we can to bring God into the equation as quickly as possible.  Work as if it all depended on us and pray as if it all depended on God.

I’m praying for you; and asking you to please keep me in your prayers as well.

Peace friends,

Chuck

 

 

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8 Comments

  • Deborah says:

    Chuck,
    I’d like to thank you and all those like you who’ve loved on those with unexpected pregnancies in their time of indecision. We are blessed to have adopted our daughter nearly 13 years ago because someone took the time to talk to the expectanct mother and help her through a decidedly difficult time. To give someone the gift of your presence and to let them know they are loved can and has changed innumerable lives. It’s a gift.

  • Mary says:

    I am not sure how many followers read this blog. I don’t know who you are, or how you knew to even sign up. What I do know is that when I hear Chuck’s words, I truly hear the word of God. The above story illuminates the fact that others do too. Thanks you Chuck for sharing Christ. Thank you for being an angel on earth to so many of us. Your love, kindness, compassion, and grace inspire me to be a better person.

  • Rose says:

    Now that I have stopped weeping I can share that this was enormously moving – truly we never know how something we do (or for that matter don’t do) will impact another person – you said it so well – Work as if it all depended on us and pray as if it all depended on God.

  • Velvet says:

    This one really touched me. Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to seeing you soon. 🙂

  • Roberta Jennings says:

    Sometimes we don’t understand the reason for things until later. God has his reasons….

    We all need to learn to turn things over to God.

    Great story!

  • MJ says:

    This story particularly struck me, Chuck. First of all, I’m always amazed when a simple conversation with someone can have dramatic effects. I don’t mean your conversaton was simple but ones so many of us have. And then there is the “handing over” our concerns to God….so difficult at times but then the reality is…..it’s all in His hands. God bless us all on our journeys.

  • Terry says:

    Gosh … love how you share life stories … love the good that comes from all the hard stuff.
    That was so nice to read. A living example. Perfect timing with The Right to Life anniversary …

  • Barbara C. says:

    Thank you – I really needed this reminder this morning!

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