Trust in You

Trust is not something that I’m very good at.  I like to be in control, feeling that I can manage the outcome to my liking.  But, of course, I can’t always do that.  Some things are out of my hands – almost everything is out of my hands.

When I first became a Christian, I was actually glad that I didn’t control everything.  It was a relief to know that I wasn’t responsible for everything that happened in my life and the lives of my loved ones.  I can’t say that it was a relief to know that everything is in God’s hands – that actually scared me quite a bit.  But, if anyone is going to be in control, it should surely be the Creator and Master of the Universe – the One who knows best.

During my recent health odyssey, my problem with trust was made clear again.  I prayed for recovery, for the end of new illnesses – but I also worried every time a new illness appeared.  Legitimate concern is not a bad thing at all, for I do need to think about my body and make good decisions on taking care of it.  But, worry – well, there is no room (and really no need) for worry in the life of a person of faith.  And I worried a lot.

Sometimes, a song, poem, book, movie, or TV show can challenge our faith and inspire us to a better and closer relationship with God.  I discovered the song below during my health odyssey (which is not quite over yet) and it cut to my heart.  It is a challenge for me in my struggles – and a good inspiration to trust…

“Jesus, I Trust in You…”

© 2017 Christina Chase

Inspire

Breathe in deeply.

Over the last six weeks, what with pneumonia, then bronchitis, and menstrual flow for 22 days (and counting) I’ve been struggling.  Being as small as I am (58 pounds) with a twisted torso from scoliosis and weakened respiratory muscles – oh, and that whole spinal-muscular-atrophy-never-walked-can’t-move-my-arms-anymore thing – everything is just harder.  I thank God for the improvements, truly, deeply, and pray that no more difficulties may come – all the while knowing that there are so many people out there who have it so much worse.

And I’ve been thinking… Through the choking on mucus, pain and bleeding, shortness of breath… Don’t I believe in God’s will?  I have prayed that only God’s Positive, Perfect, Holy, Ordained Will be done.  Not God’s Permissive Will, the things that aren’t part of His ideal plan, but that He will make work out for the best, but God’s Perfect Will, what He ideally wants.  If being sick is exactly what God intends for the perfection of my life-never-ending, then so be it.  God sees the Big Picture, which I cannot, as I’m stuck in the little details of the day – and the Big Picture is an exquisite Masterpiece.

Now, I say, “So be it” or “Thy will be done” – but, do I mean it?

If I mean it, then I should not only thank God for the times of improvement – pneumonia cleared up, the bronchitis gone – but also thank God for the new difficulties: the ongoing cramping, bloating that makes it hard for me to breathe and causes my heart to race, the loss of blood, the anxiety that there may be something terribly wrong in my reproductive system, whatever new cold might pop up.  I should groan and nearly scream in pain, I should struggle for air, and I should say, “Thank You.”  And I’m serious here.  I’ve tried it, and I have to say, it’s much easier said than done.  I believe in the principle, I believe it’s a good thing to do, to be grateful for God’s Perfect Will… But, it’s another struggle.

I am trying to learn everything that I can from this trial and these tribulations.  I really do believe that there is a treasure here for me to discover, that there is richly useful knowledge and experience for me to gain.  As a character said recently on a television program called Nashville, “Pain is valuable.”  That’s true for country music writers, but it’s also true for all writers and artists.  Perhaps, it’s true for every human being.  I know it’s true for me.  All of this will bring me closer to my Creator, into a more deeply and personal and intimate relationship with my Savior.  Thus united and connected with God in my heart, I can then better be inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit to receive God’s love and wisdom and to be creative, to share the reality of Christ and the glory of God with others.

Being grateful for pain is extremely difficult and, being only human, I don’t know if I can really do it.  But, there is another little lesson that I have learned in all of this, a practical one that is slightly easier to do, but no less important…

Even though it’s more difficult to breathe because my body hurts so much, I have to take good care of my lungs and stay healthy.  So I have learned, and I continually remind myself, that, even when in pain, I must breathe in deeply.  And this does feel something like gratitude…

That’s the lesson I’m sharing here in this post today:

Even when in pain,

Breathe in deeply.

© 2017 Christina Chase

Cancer and Perspective

For my aunt’s cancer, angiosarcoma, to be removed from her body, her nose had to be removed.  After a year and a half of surgeries, nearly torturous radiation sessions, and more surgeries, her “new” nose is left permanently disfigured and dysfunctional.  At least, however, she had the knowledge that the cancer was gone and her life was safe.

But, the cancer has returned.

What looked like a bruise near her jaw is actually cancer.  And it, too, must be removed.  I imagine that more radiations… and uncertainty… will follow.

My poor aunt!  I feel awful for her and can’t even imagine what she must be feeling and thinking.  How will she get through this?  Where will she find the strength, the wisdom, the grace?  I find myself asking the same questions that I had when she first told me of her cancer on Christmas Day, 2014.  And my prayer for her now is the same as it was then.  Here is what I originally wrote – about my aunt the artist and about having divine perspective, even in the face of cancer:

Perspective   (click to read)

© 2016 Christina Chase

A Prayer before Eating

This is the famous 1918 photograph by Eric Enstrom called “Grace”.

 grace by Enstrom framed

It has hung in the dining room of my parents’ house since before I was born. Interestingly, although my mother was raised by a devout family in a very religious village, her family never said “grace” – a prayer said before eating. It’s hard to say whether or not my father’s family did… probably they didn’t, except, I would guess, on holidays and, then, probably only at his aunt or older sister’s promptings. This helps to explain why my parents never said a prayer at mealtime when they were married. Not until my older sister changed things. Continue reading

When, Where, How

Life-of-Pix-free-stock-photos-restaurant-people-building-city-leeroy

Will it happen in a shopping mall? Will you have time to run and hide in a bathroom stall when the gunfire begins to sound? Or in some other public place? Will the bullets send you to the ground where you’ll play dead, trying not to tremble, whimper, staying flat on your face…?

What does it feel like to sit in a café and have a piece of lead penetrate your chest and stop your heart? Does the pain start with the breaking bone or the bursting flesh? Do you feel hot or cold…?

If your coworker has a barrel aimed right at her head, would you be so bold as to give up yourself instead? Is she, a mother of three little ones, saved while you lie bleeding out on the polished office floor? …your life rushing out of you on the polished office floor…?
Will your children – husband, wife, mother, father – come walking home through the door today? Or will a police officer knock upon it to say that he is sorry… flashing lights… headlines on the news, and the number of dead includes the person that you love more than anyone….

 Grief_sons%20protection_0_0

The modern wonders of the day. The attilas of our generation silent and hidden, dispersed everywhere, anywhere. No hordes descending, no walls and gates to raise to bar them out. Instead, quickly, in an instant, one life suddenly taken, then two, then three. Through history’s eyes, mere firecrackers in a shoe, not much to see. Odds are they won’t get you or yours, there’s no probable danger out-of-doors. And, yet… the questions dart and sneak through your mind like thieves as you pull your arms through the sleeves of your jacket, button the thin fabric up to your chin… and cross the threshold from your home out into the world…

…the world… going mad…  like your thoughts…

…but, you will remain sane.

Is it logic or faith that puts one foot in front of the other? Or is it a combination of both that allows you to push aside the door and ignore the time-unlimited question of when,  where, how……?

© 2015 Christina Chase


1st photo credit: Life of Pix

2nd photo credit: UNH http://www.unh.edu/health-services/ohep/emotional-health/grief

Our Daily Bread

It’s strange how you can come to care about the people whose blogs you read regularly, or even occasionally.  I find that I want to know about the major ups and downs in their lives, their fears and their joys.  Because of this, I’m stepping out to share with you, my readers, an impending event in my life.  Well, it is more directly an event in my father’s life, but, because I am dependent on others for my survival and it is my father and my mother who give me daily care, the event has impact on me.  (I wrote about this somewhat for the other surgery, see it here.)

My dad is going to have surgery again.  Nothing emergent or life-threatening this time, no worries, this is elective.  The hip replacement he’s been waiting for.  Of course, being a worrier (no, not “warrior”, you silly dictation system, definitely not a warrior) by nature, I do worry a little, especially given his septuple coronary bypass three months ago.  I pray that God will protect him once again and guide the doctors and all who will be taking care of him before, during, and after the operation.  His cardiologist from CMC cleared him and Dr. Fox from Concord Orthopedics is supposed to be great, so I leave it in God’s hands.   That is, I will try my very best not to worry, but to have faith that God’s Holy and Perfect Will shall be done.   What that will is, nobody can truly know.  But, I do believe that what ever will happen will be according to God’s positive plan for all of our ultimate goodness and joy.  That’s our faith as believers.

And I have so much for which to be thankful.

As I tried to keep in mind during the previous operation, God is good.

All the time.

God is good.

Jesus invites us to pray for one another and, so, prayers are welcome! (And prayers for my mom, too, who, again, is stuck with the literally heavy lifting.) Thank you!

© 2016 Christina Chase

The Beauty of Both/And: Thomas Aquinas

Thomas was picked on by his classmates. Because he was big and quiet, they thought that he was developmentally delayed and called him a dumb ox. But, his teacher saw things differently, he saw beyond the surface to the truth and said to the class, “You call him the dumb ox, but in his teaching he will one day produce such a bellowing that it will be heard throughout the world.”

This teacher (who came to be known as Saint Albert the Great) was right about who that young man would become and what his contributions to the world would be. The young man was Thomas Aquinas, who became a Doctor of the Church, one of the most influential theologians and philosophers in the world, and a great Saint.

Also, my favorite saint.

A Truly Beautiful Mind

quotes St. Thomas Aquinas preserved ship

I do admire him because of his perseverance, not only withstanding the ridicule and misunderstanding of his classmates, but also the desperate force of his family: brothers kidnapping him, mother imprisoning him, as they tried in vain to keep him out of the Dominican Order of poor, itinerant friars. Most saints show grit and strength in their commitment to serving God, though. Thomas’ special gift from God was a rare mind. Not that he was superhuman (or supra-human). No. He was very, very human. Indeed, he loved food, ate too much, and was rather fat. His great gift was an understanding of what it is to be human. Through the use of his great intellectual gifts and spiritual insights, Thomas himself saw beyond the surface of things. He recognized the wisdom beneath the paganism of Greek philosophy. He married Aristotle’s works of reason with Christian understandings of faith, proving that faith and reason are not incompatible. Thomas famously offered five proofs for the existence of God, using reason to illustrate the unmoved mover, the uncaused cause – that which everyone calls God.

Reading just one of his quotes – just one partial one – made me want to be a Catholic, a Christian…

Faith and Reason

Seven years out of atheism, I was still wondering about faith, religion, and, as I put it, “that which we call God”. I had come to know of the existence of God without the Bible, without religion, by deeply reflecting upon the natural world and my wordless, wondrous response to it. But, I was not a Christian and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be. The thought of the Incarnation, that is, Christ Jesus, both scared and thrilled me. It was beautiful, terrible, wonderfully profound…. But, was it true? Surely, I believed, truth could only be arrived at through reason. If I became a full-fledged person of faith, wouldn’t reason become secondary, inferior, even pushed out of my life?

And then I read these words while just starting to inspect the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“The world, and man, attest that they contain within themselves neither their first principle nor their final end, but rather that they participate in Being itself, which alone is without origin or end. Thus, in different ways, man can come to know that there exists a reality which is the first cause and final end of all things, a reality “that everyone calls ‘God.’” (CCC paragraph #34[1])

This is what I believed before becoming Christian – this is what I knew. And it came from none other than the great Doctor of the Church, himself, St. Thomas Aquinas, the “Angelic Doctor”. This was Catholic. And my jaw dropped. I began to think… maybe faith and reason exist in harmony after all….

After that I wholeheartedly took the leap of faith – not without reason.

Thomas Aquinas faith and reason

Fear Not

St. Thomas Aquinas is also my favorite because he loved truth and, therefore, he loved questions. He wasn’t afraid of them. He wasn’t afraid of any doubt. He wasn’t afraid of anyone’s argument or negative response. In a commentary on Aristotle’s works he wrote, “We must love them both, those whose opinions we share and those whose opinions we reject, for both have labored in the search for truth, and both have helped us in finding it.” .

He understood fear:

“Fear is such a powerful emotion for humans that when we allow it to take us over, it drives compassion right out of our hearts.”

He was full of wonder:

“Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.”

He could hold his own in any debate and defended the Faith against heretics – yet, he was humble:

“I would rather feel compassion than know the meaning of it. I would hope to act with compassion without thinking of personal gain.”

He wrote a lot of words – a lot. And, yet, he understood the littleness of human words in the wondrous infinity of God. At about the age of 50, while mystically deep in prayer, Thomas had a vision of Christ coming to him and asking him what reward he would have for his labor. Thomas responded, “Nothing but you, Lord.” After this, Thomas came to stop writing altogether, feeling that his words were like straw. He still worked to serve God, but died only a few months later.

Aquinas answered it

Many are discovering St. Thomas Aquinas anew and are growing in both faith and reason as a result. I am thankful to God for creating this man to help us better understand Him. For these many reasons, as a person of both faith and reason, I join the Catholic Church in celebrating today, January 28, the Holy One of God (Saint) Thomas Aquinas.

© 2016 Christina Chase


[1] referencing his Summa Theologica, question 2, article 1-3.

For more information see http://www.aquinasonline.com/thombiog.html
and http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm