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  • Writer's pictureMonica Walton

Growing: Believing into Trusting

In my June 7th post, I shared that I am currently experiencing a serious health issue. Two weeks ago, I had major surgery to remove cancer from my body. Although this is one of the worst things that has ever happened to me, I still feel great peace as I journey through this new territory of serious illness.

I have been surrounded with love and support from family and friends. The hospital staff were kind and attentive, and I can feel the many prayers being offered for my healing. The St. Paul Youth Group even prayed for my intentions in a Holy Hour of Adoration at Catholic Heart Work Camp. My living room is filled with beautiful cards offering well wishes, prayers, and Mass intentions for me. To have others take time to specifically pray for my well-being is tremendously uplifting and humbling. I have been present at the sickbed of many, but this was my first time to be the one in the bed.


It matters not what specific type of illness or surgery one is facing, it can be frightening and challenging -- especially when it is critical and swift action is needed. We are at the mercy of our medical team's advice. We can do our own research, but medical matters are intimidating for lay people. And there are so many sheep in wolves' clothing claiming to be reporting the truth. But, when the material is conflicting it is difficult to know what to do and we can easily fall into a tailspin. If we wait until this moment to consult God, we are unsure which of the treatment options He is leading us to choose.


It is easy to say, "I believe in God" when things are good. It's routine. It rolls off the tongue of most Christians. I was raised from infancy in the truth that there is one all-powerful, benevolent God who created all things and loves us. To the person who is introduced to this concept later in life, I imagine believing in this unseen God would be more of a challenge. But, believing is the easy part. Having Faith and trusting in God is a whole other level of spirituality.


I first began to mature in Faith when I got a glimpse of the bigger world outside of my family and small community. I learned that everyone is not raised in a strong Faith like I was. My parents trusted God and turned to Him with all our family's needs. I have no memory of them doubting God's existence or questioning His love for us, even in the midst of great trials. Following their example, I never doubted or questioned God. I believed. As I grew older and made friends outside of our like-minded circle, others shared a different perspective filled with doubts and questions. I began to pray more deeply and intently and learn more about the Catholic Faith which helped me grow from simply believing in God to truly trusting in Him. Many questions pointed to the flaws of the human side in the Church. But, I could see that is mankind falling short, not God.


Last Sunday, we heard a memorable Gospel that has helped me be more patient in the slow process of recovery.

The Calming of a Storm at Sea Mark 4:35-41

While the disciples were panicking, trying to keep the boat from capsizing, Scripture says Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.



I have no prior memory of this little detail. Jesus was resting, all comfy-cozy on a cushion as if they were on a calm, lovely boat ride. We have all been in some type of storm ~ physical, relational, financial, medical. One great piece of Wisdom that I have carried over the years is to stay in the boat with Jesus! Don't try to run away or go looking for a way around the storm. This time, I have been reflecting on Jesus sleeping on the cushion.


If I had been in that boat, I'm sure I would have also been afraid and amazed that Jesus was sleeping through the chaos surrounding Him. I probably would have also woken up Jesus, but I think I would most likely asked Him what we should do. The disciples called Him teacher and had seen Him work miracles. But, they didn't ask for His advice. Instead, they questioned His love for them.

They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

They seemed amazed that Jesus made the wind and sea calm. Even though they believed He was worth following and they had told others about Jesus, they hadn't yet grown to trust that as long as they remained in His presence, they would be OK.


The disciples were strong believers on the safe shore in the bright sunshine, but they hadn't grown from believing into trusting Him on the rough waters in the dark storm.


It is easy to slip into a tepid, passive, comfortable Faith that doesn't demand too much of us. It is easy to grow lax in daily, committed prayer and time with the Lord when life has settled into a busy, full routine that becomes normal. But, when we think believing in God is enough. without giving Him time and space to deepen our Faith, we don't fare well when the storms come.

Sr. Joan Chittister writes, "Faith is not having lights turn green before we get to the stop light at the corner or even about having the cancerous tumors disappear on command." ~ from her book, Illuminated Life

When we spend time each day in prayer and reflection, we grow closer to the Lord.

When we listen in stillness and silence, we come to know the Love & Wisdom He offers.

When we call Jesus to mind throughout our day, in happy & sad moments, and all decision-making, we grow to know Him as our companion every minute of our journey.

Then when the storm hits, we won't panic in fear and question His love and care for us. We will trust that He is with us through it all. We aren't spared from the storm, we are sheltered in the storm.

Sr. Joan continues, "Faith comes only when we are willing to trust the Blackness that is Light, the hard spots of a fragile world, each of which we would rather have made easy." ~ Illuminate Life

Jesus was asleep on the cushion in the stern of the boat because He had no doubt in God's love and care for Him and His disciples. When life gets rough, when any kind of storm hits, first sit on the cushion with Jesus. Tell Him your fears, tell Him you trust He will stay with you in the boat until the calm returns. Do this before you call your friend or loved one or pastor or professional advisor. When we go to the Lord first and frequently, believing in His Wisdom and trusting in His care, we can be confident in our path forward and the decisions we make.


As I awaited my biopsy results last month, I prayed that I would be free of cancer. I was calm because I waited with Jesus on the cushion. When the tests showed positive, I realized that I am free. God has set me free. The cancer is separate from me, it is something happening to me, it is not me. Yesterday, we heard Jesus' teaching on False Prophets in Matthew 7:15-20.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit."

I took time to sit with Jesus on the cushion before my cancer diagnosis so I trusted He was leading me to the right physicians for the best treatment option for me. Had I not spent these past several years developing a deep relationship with the Lord, making time and space to sit in silence with Him, I don't think I would have done well with this traumatic illness. I would have been distraught that the cancer didn't just disappear.

Be rooted in Christ daily, so that you will not bear bad fruit. You will bear good fruit as you endure bad things that fall upon you.


For several years during Lent, I have prayed "Everyone's Way of the Cross" by Clarence Enzler. The reflections at each Station of the Cross are written in a conversational style. We walk with the Lord and stop to meditate on each Station of His Passion and what it means in our lives. First, Jesus speaks to us, calling us His 'other self'. Then, we respond, in awe of what He has done for us and accept our crosses.


The 11th Station has always given me pause, taking my breath and making my heart skip a beat. We listen as our pastor reads the words of Jesus describing the details of being nailed to the Cross. "Then with one heavy hammer smash they drive it through -- and pain bursts like a bomb of fire in My brain. They seize the other arm; and agony again explodes." Next, we kneel and read our response out loud. "My God, I look at You and think: Is my soul worth this much? What can I give You in return? I here and now accept for all my life whatever sickness, torment, agony may come. To every cross I touch my lips. O blessed cross that lets me be -- with You -- a co-redeemer of my fellowmen." I always prayed that I would sincerely mean what those words said as I spoke them. But, would I be able to embrace them when they came to life in my world?


When I received my cancer diagnosis, those words came barreling straight at me and stared me in the face. And, I meant them. I said to my Savior, "I here and now accept this sickness and whatever may come. I have lived a very good life filled with great joy and blessings. I trust that You are with me, God. Whatever is to come, may Your will be done in me." All my days sitting on the cushion with Jesus prepared me to sincerely mean what I said each Friday of Lent at the 11th Station.


So many people have been lifting me in prayer to the Divine Physician. My daughter with her 9-month-old son, and my sister with her 18-year-old granddaughter dropped everything and traveled to be at my bedside and spent two weeks taking care of me. People from my Church delivered a hot, home-cooked meal with great love and joy every evening for two weeks. My pastor and fellow ministers came to visit, pray, and bring me Holy Communion. The medical teams have taken great care in my course of treatment and are closely monitoring my recovery and healing. That is how the Lord is sheltering me in this storm. Thank You, Jesus! What greater love have I ever known?


Sit and ponder ~ the God of all, creator of all, is waiting for us to join Him on the cushion any time and every time we think of Him. No other friend, mentor, guide, teacher, parent, counselor, advisor, helper, or caregiver ~ no other person ~ is as available as the Lord. No other person is as powerful, loving, giving, and merciful as the Lord. Let us sit on the cushion with Jesus in the daily small things so that we will be strong in the big things.


I want to begin and end with Him. Why would we settle for anything less?



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Guest
Jul 02
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Loved this. Praying for your healing.

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alfolsee2000
Jun 29
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Very inspiring words...so sorry you are going through this. Somehow I missed your June post. I did not know about this. Will remember you in my daily prayers.

Stay strong.

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Monica Walton
Monica Walton
Jun 29
Replying to

Thank you, Alvin 💜 Your thoughts and prayers are very much appreciated!!! My daily prayer is for blessings and graces be granted to all who are praying for me. God bless you.

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bdell11
Jun 28
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

As always you seem to find the best things to say.

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Monica Walton
Monica Walton
Jun 29
Replying to

Thanks, Bill! Be Blessed 💜

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Guest
Jun 27
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Beautiful! Need time spent in conversation and rest on that cushion with Him everyday! Thx for sharing your heart Monica

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Monica Walton
Monica Walton
Jun 29
Replying to

Amen to that! Be Blessed, friend 💜

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