The moment she approached the counter, I knew something was wrong. Her signature smile and characteristically chipper personality were noticeably absent on this chilly fall morning. I gently enquired as to her well-being and without a pause, she willingly shared the reason for her sadness. She was exhausted from working double shifts, getting little sleep and feeling simply overwhelmed by life. Without interrupting, I listened to her share the pain on her heart. When she had finished, I offered some thoughts on how to stay balanced and regain peace in the midst of this struggle. I then gently encouraged her to persevere in faith, trusting that God would guide her through this dark storm. Leaving the shop I felt hopeful that our conversation would help her to feel a bit better in the days to come.
Little did I know that the advice I had provided my friend were words that I would need to remind myself of days later – persevere in faith. A series of endless doctor/PT appointments, miles of driving which led to increased pain in my aching back and finally an unexpected encounter between a deer and my car made for a challenging week. Persevere in faith – I heard the words repeated over and over in my mind.
As I was closing my computer in preparation to pick up my son from high school, my eyes landed on a beautiful photo of my mom. I just stared at her inviting brown eyes for several minutes. During the drive to Catholic Memorial, I kept thinking about those eyes and how often I would look into them for comfort and solace. Persevere in faith. Out of the blue, my mind returned to an event which occurred during my high school years when my mom modeled how to persevere in faith during some very tough circumstances.
It was the 1980’s – I must have been about 16 years old. I recall entering the hospital to visit her in my work uniform. Yes – even I (a gluten free, dairy free, non-meat eater) worked at McDonald’s in high school. As I entered mom’s room my eyes immediately caught her eyes – they were open and inviting. “Come here, don’t be afraid,” she said. I walked into the room and sat down on her bed. “It’s okay, everything is going to be okay – there is no need to worry,” she said in the most reassuring way while holding onto my hand. Mom had just undergone a serious operation for breast cancer – or so they thought. Everything on the pre-op films indicated that she had a malignant tumor and thus a mastectomy was essential. (No advanced testing was available during this time in history.) By some minuscule chance – if the lump was not cancerous – she was informed that the most invasive part of the surgery would not be performed. Mom told me that when she woke up from the anesthesia, she opened her eyes and placed her hand on her chest which was covered in bandages. The nurse calmly looked at her and said “It was benign, you are okay, nothing was removed.” Persevere in faith.
At Mass this evening, our Pastor encouraged us to make prayer part of our daily routine. “By offering even one little prayer at the start of each new day, you walk with God. Without it, you walk alone,” he said. This part about “walking alone” really stayed with me. The thought of it actually frightened me because I have come to understand that God’s grace is the only thing that gets me through some of the tougher days. I don’t believe that we are capable of persevering in faith alone but with God, anything is possible! I thought back to the breast cancer incident with my mom. Even though I didn’t see her do it, I am confident that she prayed unceasingly during that period of her life. What I do recall is her peacefulness during a very anxious and scary time. I now understand that she received the peace of God, in the midst of the suffering, thanks to her prayerful heart.
Thinking back to my friend at the coffee shop, I am thankful that God brought our paths together when she needed a little extra support and love. While I don’t know her religious beliefs, I do know that I can pray for her. Like my mom, I can try to model persevering in faith and hope that this example inspires others to seek God’s peace daily. So, no matter where you are in life right now, don’t forget that God does not want you to walk alone – persevere in faith – and all will be well.