To trust in the big things, we must start small

Let every moment of every day be a radical act of trusting completely in God

By Claire Collins

Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” (Proverbs 3:5). What does it mean to trust?

If you’re like me, trust has been a hard concept to nail down. I’ve mostly seen trust as a passive submission to some “big” thing to come, or accepting something I didn’t want from God, “trusting” that it was His will despite my feelings about it.

I’ve also seen trust as synonymous with faith, but have often felt unsatisfied with a common trope, “It’s a mystery, you just have to believe.”

In my life, as in yours, there are many opportunities for trust. I’ve been asked to trust God with my dad’s terminal cancer diagnosis, my time as a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, in my vocation, and the birth of my three children.

But recently I was given the space to reframe how I see trust, and to experience how this reframing has actually allowed me to live out a more radical daily trust in God.

We see saints like St. Teresa of Calcutta, who founded the Missionaries of Charity, and St. Maximilian Kolbe, who gave up his life in a Nazi concentration camp. We see Bishop Robert Barron and his Word on Fire ministry, or Curtis Martin, the founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.

We see the big things they do and the radical trust it must have taken to get to where they were and are, and we might think, “How could I ever do something great like that?”

But the building blocks of trust for these great and holy men and women were in the small, little, everyday acts of love. Their times of daily prayer, their faithfulness to their vocations, the excellence with which they did every simple act, the faith they had as they walked every step toward their larger accomplishments.

It was trust that allowed the saints to see that these small moments would build the virtue required to be able to say yes to the larger acts of trust that God would invite them to.

One story that comes to mind is of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. It is said that she, when preparing the table for meals, would fold each napkin as if she was folding it for God Himself. She let no small act go by without meriting whatever grace was waiting for her in it.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen has wise words for us seeking to more deeply understand the trust God desires us to have in Him.

Archbishop Sheen said in his book Life Is Worth Living, “All of us would like to make our own crosses tailor-made trials. But not many of us welcome the crosses God sends. Yet it is in doing perfectly the little chores He gives that saints find holiness. The big, world-shattering things many of us imagine we would like to do for God might, in the end, feed only our egotism.”

“On the other hand, to accept the crosses of our state of life because they come from an all-loving God is to have taken the most important step in the reformation of the world, namely, the reformation of the self.

Sanctity can be built out of patient endurance of the incessant grumbling of a husband, the almost intolerable nagging of a wife, the boss’ habit of smoking a pipe while he dictates, the noise the children make with their soup, the unexpected illness, the failure to find a husband, the inability to get rich. All these can become occasions of merit and be made into prayers if they are borne patiently for love of One Who bears so patiently with us, despite our shortcomings, our failures, and our sins,” the archbishop continued.

The truth is that the foundation of trust is, as with most things, in the little, day-to-day moments. “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones…” (Luke 16:10). It begins with the belief that God is good, that He is loving, and that He wants to fulfill the deepest longings of our hearts. If we can live from that place, even the smallest of crosses can become rivers of grace.

A good and holy priest recently articulated what radical trust in God looks like for me as a wife and mother. It looks like submitting to the needs of my children and husband with love and joy. It looks like putting that load of laundry or dirty dish down for a moment because I have a child in need, believing God will make time for me to pick up the chore once again.

It looks like allowing God to make time for me to pray—on a car ride to school, in the middle of the night as I rock or comfort a little one, in my three minutes of silence in the bathroom. It looks like relinquishing control over my household being “perfect” and making it a place of welcome and community without fear of what others may think. And it looks like believing that it is actually in THESE opportunities that God is inviting me to holiness, rather than some “big” thing to come.

For others, it might look like pursuing a career or job that makes less money but allows for richer family life. It might look like joining a small group even though you don’t know anyone in it. It might look like tithing before doing any other budgeting so as to entrust one’s finances to God, believing He will provide. It might look like submitting to a teaching of the Church that is particularly hard to wrap one’s mind around.

The beauty is that God has created us each uniquely, with a completely different set of circumstances and contexts in which to live out the trust we are called to have in Him. It’s not black and white; it’s nuanced and complex.

And He gave us the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of Holy Mother Church with which to discern what a life of trust would look like in each life lived for God, rather than just a collective sense of what faithfulness means.

After a certain viral commencement speech a few weeks ago, I found myself thinking about the body of Christ and its many members. There are many ways to live out Christ’s teachings. There is no one “right way.” There are dogmas and truths that cannot be argued with, but even within that boundary there seem to be limitless opportunities for what a life lived for Christ can look like.

There are different vocations, many apostolates, many religious orders doing many different things to serve the people of God. There are different preferences and interpretations within the Church (though arguably some closer to the truth than others).

And in the midst of all of the variety, God allows for it. God does not force us to subscribe to one way to live. He is not a tyrant who makes demands without freedom. He actually trusts us enough to let us discern for ourselves, with the Holy Spirit, how He is calling us to live. He is not a God of control, but a God of freedom. And it is within all of our different decisions and choices that God brings about His will in the world.

Let every moment of your day be a radical act of trust in God, believing that it all can “work for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28).

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