Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
on your own intelligence do not rely;
In all your ways be mindful of him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Last night, I had a vivid dream. I awoke from a deep slumber, grabbed my cell phone—always bedside for those “just in case” calls—and sent myself a quick email so that I would remember the context of my reverie. As a writer, I’ve long welcomed these inspirations that later become fodder for a story or column.
I mention this particular dream because the very act of dreaming in itself felt so unusual. In years past, my “dream journals” were filled with pages of midnight fantasy. But lately, since my mother’s health crisis has taken the forefront in my emotions, my sleep—and therefore my dreaming—has suffered. For many months now, I’ve dreaded that middle of the night call from Daddy or the Memory Care Facility that might alert me to a fall or one of mom’s emotional outbursts. The anxiety I try so hard to repress all day long comes out to play at night, haunting me and disrupting my rest.
So last night’s dream inspiration felt meaningful. As I wrote about it in my journal this morning, I thanked God for the gift of a sleep deep enough to allow for not only dreams, but also a refreshed feeling.
What’s changed? I asked myself. How am I dreaming again?
I didn’t have to think long before I realized the biggest life change that I’ve incorporated in the past month: the Litany of Trust. Penned by Sister of Life Sr. Faustina Maria Pia, S. V., the litany offers a beautiful formula for praying the words of Jesus Christ to Saint Faustina. In a beautiful video that accompanies the Litany prayer, Sr. Faustina Maria Pia invites us to not only pray the Litany of Trust, but also to ask the Lord, “Where are you inviting me to trust? Where are you inviting me to know more deeply your goodness and my goodness as well?”
I have long “preached” trust in God’s will, but Mom’s health situation pointed out to me that I suffer from a crisis of trust. Mom’s care and my support for my father are not a “project” that will be complete when I tick all of the to-do items off my list. There is no deadline or due date or finish line in sight. There is only room for sheer trust in the beauty of God’s plan. God is inviting me to trust and to know his goodness even in the face of what feels like an insurmountable burden of parental suffering.
Daily prayer of the Litany of Trust has become a regular part of my morning devotional time. I linger over the words, often reciting them aloud even as I choke back tears most mornings. Praying these words gives me a chance to acknowledge my emotions. But it’s also gives me actual words to accept and pray for the grace to overcome my distrust, my need to somehow control this situation. By learning to trust, I am also learning to rest.
As people of faith, we are blessed by the presence and example of saints who excelled at trust. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, totally reliant upon God in her tumultuous vocation, wrote in a letter to her Sisters of Providence, “You may have to wait longer than you would like, you may have to bear privations; but, bear and forebear. Have confidence in the Providence that so far has never failed us. The way is not yet clear. Grope along slowly. Do not press matters; be patient, be trustful.”
Saint Francis de Sales counseled, “Do not fear what may happen tomorrow. The same loving Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”
Saint Faustina gave us the words I cling to and pray aloud when my trust tank is running on empty: “Jesus, I trust in you.” I definitely have a long path ahead of me in learning to be one of Mom’s team of caregivers, but I’m finally developing a more secure trust that God has a perfect plan for our family.
A question to ponder: Do you struggle to trust God’s plan for your role as a caregiver? What helps you to lean in and trust in the providence of God’s love?