I admit, I’ve been more consumed by the problems of the world lately than by my efforts to live a useful life. That’s how it goes, isn’t it? When the world starts feeling impossible, we want to try to make a difference, or lean into the scary parts, which can lead to hopelessness, distraction, and/or underestimation of the difference we make in our homes and circles and personal relationships with the Lord. At least that’s how it goes for me. Caught up in rationalizations, zeal, and conversations about what to do about various things, at some point the idea of being a child of God landed in my head. With it came a distressing feeling that I had no idea how to see myself that way. I don’t know if this is a common struggle, or if it has to do with the oldest sibling “I can handle it” mindset I’ve had since I was quite small, but feeling so distant from a childlike safety made me weep.
So, in case someone out there needs to feel a little more held, I want to share a vision of being safe in the arms of the Lord. And for the record, I’m not saying that this safety means we needn’t worry about or do anything. We’re still responsible for our choices, and it’s important that we do the work of this life. But now I’ll focus on the protection, love, and mercy we can trust in as we do that.
A certain sense of trust comes naturally to children, but as adults the feeling of needing to be in control runs deep. It’s painfully obvious yet painfully difficult to remember that even the most unexpected, unplanned, unwelcomed things in our lives don’t veer away from the Lord’s Providence. His Providence continues seamlessly and unwaveringly through the seemingly impossible; through any and every state I find myself in. I can trust in what’s beyond my line of vision. That it’s there, and always was. Even before I realized I needed it to be.
So maybe I can believe I’m safe enough to take just the next step for now. A child who takes his first steps knows nothing of where that will take him, or of how already part of the plan those fumbling steps are. So I‘ll try to stumble through, clueless and learning and sometimes fearful, without that feeling that I need to save myself too. We’re safe in our pain, in our confusion, in our trying again and again. If I’m humbly doing my part, I will be taken care of. Even as incapable and needing of His influence as I am. I can come into states of fear and uncertainty, and know that I’m still being led to the same heaven I always was. I can release the details and the weight of all that goes wrong to the Lord, and trust that my very human and utterly not-in-charge self is really held. I think of a newborn, and stretch my mind to try to relate: fully, completely safe in every state. Held lovingly in unwavering arms, not at all in control of anything beyond myself. Completely trusting, and completely unaware of how much life and growth and blessing is ahead.
“Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.”
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
“That ‘Noah went into the ark from before the waters of the flood’ means that he was protected may become clear to anyone. Temptations are nothing other than conflicts between evil spirits and angels who reside with a person. Evil spirits activate all the dishonourable things the person has done or even thought which have been with him since early childhood, thus both evils and falsities; and in so doing, the spirits condemn him, for nothing gives them greater delight. Indeed the very delight of their lives consists in doing just that. But the Lord protects the person by means of angels and prevents the evil spirits and genii from overstepping the mark and overwhelming him with more than he can cope with.”
(Arcana Coelestia 741)