Faith through it all

When life deals us sour lemons, it can be easy to adopt a “why-me-why-me-why-me?” attitude and focus on the downside, the stress and the fear. Rare is the individual who counts the blessings through a trial of bad health, marriage troubles, alcohol/drug addiction or another serious distress.

A friend has been through too many months of dealing with a health issue which has included procedures, hospitalizations, low energy and pain. Each time I check in with her via text, email or phone, she updates her situation and each time includes gratitude: “I am grateful for my progress … grateful for my husband and family who have taken exceptional care of me … terrible pain but very grateful for my care and recovery … I am blessed and have felt God near me in this storm.”

Wow. Faith through it all.

A woman I know who lived through an abusive childhood left home at age 16 basically to raise herself. Now in her 50s and estranged from her mother over that earlier era, she is one of the most kind-hearted and upbeat people I know. Wouldn’t you have figured a cruel and damaging childhood such as she had endured would have soured her?

Astounding. She has held faith through it all.

Last year, a lifelong friend lost her adult son to a heart attack. She still grieves heavily, of course, and admits her heart hurts awfully. She is heartbroken and devastated. Yet each communication with her through the pain includes love and appreciation of her friendships … “how blessed I am to have you in my life!”

Amazing. She counts the blessings while feeling shattered.

Another friend has been through the wringer since her early 20s. She is now 60. Her first husband died, she was a single mother whose young child was abused by a family member, and because of that unthinkable act, today is estranged from that adult child, four sisters and, before death, her mother. Over the last several years, her son has been in and out of facilities with mental challenges. Yet this individual is one of the most peaceful, generous and spiritual people I know. Even her career path includes working for faith-based organizations. Wouldn’t you think those sad and challenging experiences would have pushed her away from God? She explains how it has not:

“Born and raised Catholic and a graduate of Catholic schools, I just accepted my faith as part of my life. When widowed at age 23 as a mother of a toddler, it was then I realized the true gift of my faith. Without God I would not have survived and even thrived. Now in adulthood, I can honestly say my faith, my religion and being Catholic is the greatest gift my parents ever bestowed upon me.”

It is said we cannot question the bad circumstances which crop up, unless we are willing to also question why good things happen in our lives. Yet why would we question the good? We’ll take it! The differences in attitude while muddling through emotional heartache or illness are what can make or break us. Processing the heavy stuff in life while including God – or shunning our faith – can take us in separate directions and outcomes.

I shall never forget what my friend, John, said years ago during his mother’s viewing: “How do people without faith get through a loved one’s death?”

When we cannot – or do not – turn for help and comfort to the Most Almighty Power there is, where does it leave us? When zero prayers are requested or offered in a dire situation, what will happen? Some situations are frightening enough without feeling additionally scared that there is “nothing out there” to assist us. Maybe every prayer is not answered to our choosing, and each situation may not finish with a happy ending, yet the knowledge and belief of having God on our side watching, listening, holding and healing, feels significantly safer than muddling through it alone.

If no other blessing stems from a bad situation (although miraculously there always seems to be one!), at least we are able to hold onto our faith – through it all.

Suzanna Molino Singleton

Suzanna Molino Singleton

Suzanna Molino Singleton is a native Baltimorean and parishioner of St. Leo Church in Little Italy. A former staff correspondent for the Catholic Review, she launched her "Snippets of Faith" blog for the Catholic Review in June 2018. Suzanna is the creator of a weekly e-column, SNIPPETS Inspiration (since 2006), and the author of seven books, including Baltimore’s Little Italy: Heritage and History of The Neighborhood. Email Suzanna at 29angels@comcast.net.