Being thankful for humbling moments Print
Everyday Faith
Thursday, Oct. 05, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

Everyday Faith column by Julianne Nornberg

My knuckles turned white as I gripped the steering wheel on the way to Urgent Care.

In the rearview mirror, I glanced constantly at my daughter, who rested her head gingerly on a pillow in the backseat.

For days, she'd complained that her head hurt off and on, but this day when I picked her up from school, her face was ashen and her eyes held a fevered look, though there was no fever.

I could tell there was something wrong, and I feared the worst.

"Well, I don't know what exactly is going on," the practitioner said after examining my daughter and hearing about her symptoms. "We can do some blood tests to gain more information."

My heart dropped as we entered a realm of uncertainty that held unspeakable outcomes.

Turning to God

And then . . . I prayed.

I rubbed my daughter's back as we waited for the practitioner to return, and we prayed together for the results of the tests to be something recognizable, something we could treat, so that we could return from the realm of uncertainty, a place in which no parent is comfortable.

There have been several times in my life during which I felt certain that only the hand of God could intercede. This was one of those times.

In my heart, in that moment, I knew that God required me to fully place into His hands the situation, my biggest fears, and to let them go.

And so, I did.

"Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life with fear. Rather, look to them with full confidence that, as they arise, God to whom you belong will in his love enable you to profit by them," said St. Francis de Sales.

"Do you but hold fast to his dear hand, and He will lead you safely through all trials . . . 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 useless thoughts, all vain dreads, and all anxious imaginations."

Learning to let go

It takes practice, this "letting go and letting God." I am just a beginner, but I have gotten better at it since becoming a parent.

At some point, you must accept that you have done the very best that you can do in a given situation. The rest is truly in God's hands. But you need to recognize that and place the situation into His care.

Just as a child places his broken toy into his father's hands, pleading with him to fix it or glue it or put batteries into it to bring it back to life, so must we place into Our Father's hands, our broken dreams and worries and fears.

He has made us this way -- dependent on Him -- yet we can get so used to thinking we conduct our lives all by ourselves.

Help through prayer

But when you are faced with a dire situation, a humbling situation over which you have no control but to recognize that you are at the mercy of God, these are the times in which prayer becomes especially real and tangible, a call for help to Our Father, who alone can "fix" it or give you the strength to bear it.

After I returned from the doctor's office with my daughter still feeling sick, yes, there were some tears. I feared the worst and knew that only God could fix the situation. But I prayed He would give me the strength to bear whatever was in store for our family.

And then . . . I waited. And watched my daughter. And prayed some more.

A few hours later, a phone call from the practitioner confirmed that the blood tests looked normal. It turned out to be just a passing virus.

In my heart, I fell to my knees in complete and utter gratitude, for I knew God had heard my prayers and averted the unspeakable outcomes I had feared.

Humbling experience

I emerged from the situation humbled and with great gratitude and a little understanding of what it must be like for parents who don't have such happy outcomes.

In an instant, your entire life can change. For far too many years, I have taken our good health for granted. Now I thank God every day for each day, since the next day may be different.

And even if it does change for the worst, or my prayers are not answered the way I want, I need to remember that it is all part of God's plan, that He knows best, and that He will pull good out of the direst situations, even if we cannot see it for ourselves.

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say Rejoice!" St. Paul instructs us in Philippians 4:4.

I thanked God for the humbling experience, knowing that it only brought me closer to Him.

For this knowledge,I am grateful. To know you are not in charge of your own life is indeed humbling, but a necessary lesson in order to grow in your own faith.

Julianne Nornberg, mother of four young children, is a member of St. John the Baptist Parish, Waunakee.