The following is a transcript from the Raised Catholic podcast. To listen to the podcast, click here.
Today is episode 12: Deep Water
Well, hey friends. As we are rebuilding our faith foundation, brick by brick, we will at times meet questions without any neat answers, and this is one of those days. Today we’re talking about what to do in our faith lives when everyday life gets hard. When we suffer or watch our dear ones suffer, where is God in our pain and how can we respond?
Well, you can read every book on the subject of the problem of pain, and I’ll have a bunch of those and lots of other resources listed in the show notes, and you can listen to this podcast all the way to the end, which I hope you will do, but the reality is that we are entering into messy ground here – what I call Deep Water – and I’ll explain just why I call it that in a bit, but I need you to know that today, I won’t offer you any answers or solutions to your pain. I don’t know what you’re carrying today, but there are a few guiding principles for how we can approach our hard seasons that I have experienced in my real life to be true, and here they are.
God doesn’t cause pain or trial.
God never leaves us.
God can make good of all things.
Well, like you, friend, I’ve experienced hard seasons, the things I thought I’d never make it through. I’ve been bewildered and terrified and 99% sure that God had completely forgotten about me. I have begged Him for rescue and heard nothing in response, times when I needed His practical and spiritual help but could not feel His presence at all. It’s what St. John of the Cross called a dark night of the soul, and it has been experienced by many saints including Mother Teresa. I wonder if you have experienced anything like that.
Well, one day in the hardest season I can remember, I was in a yoga class and experienced something there that changed everything. (Side note: I will definitely do an episode on Catholics, Christians and yoga in the future but let me just say here: Jesus and Mary can go with you to class and in my experience, they definitely do, so be not afraid!) Anyway, I was there in savasana, which is that pose at the end of a yoga class where you’re just lying there still, and a picture came to my mind of me in deep water, struggling to stay afloat. I am a terrible swimmer in real life and at that time, in my spiritual life too, so this was a scary and very real image of my current struggle. In subsequent classes, that picture returned to my mind, but shifted a little each time. One day Jesus came to me in a boat, and in others, He taught me how to swim or to float or even sink down into the water for a time in the safety of His arms. One day, He directed my view toward a lighthouse. And with each class, I found myself desperate to put my feet down on solid ground, but friend, that took a long time. Much longer than I wanted or was comfortable with. Through it all, God was writing a story for me to help me make sense of my current trial and to be honest, it did not contain the answers I hoped for at that time. There was no helicopter that scooped me up and out of that deep water and all of the pain I was experiencing in those days. But it’s also true that He had compassion for the pain I was feeling, and that He never left me, and that, as it says in Romans 8:28, He was making good of all things, even the hardest things, simply because He loves me. None of that situation unfolded in the way I’d hoped, in practical terms, but as I look back, I can see God’s hand in it all. What we gained in that deep water was, as Ephesians 3:20 says, much more than we could have asked or imagined.
In life, there’s no arriving, no finish line until our last moments, and no bow we can tie on things, much as we wish there was. In the Deep Water, I learned dependence on God, I learned about His goodness and care, and I learned that my ways are so woefully short of His ways.
It’s in the looking back that we can see His provision in people, ideas, and practical help and it is in the letting go – of our plans and the people and things that we do not want to part with that we can find redemption, freedom, and the peace that passes understanding.
But in the midst of that Deep Water, we may not feel or see any of that. If you’re in a season like this one today, first, please know how much you are loved. It’s my prayer that you feel held even in the midst – that you will float, swim, or even sink into the arms of a loving God, and that one day your feet will find solid ground for walking once again. And that then, your lighthouse will shine even brighter for someone else who’s out there struggling today. That’s why we’re here, I think, to learn and grow, and then to shine, over and over again in the pattern of our lives.
A couple of years ago, my friend Cathy invited me to go paddleboarding for the first time. I was nervous. As I said, I’m not a strong swimmer so the idea of deep water – and this time, the real physical variety of water – well, it scared me and made me cautious. Cathy graciously agreed to have us paddleboard around the perimeter of a large lake, safe in the shallow water, and we did that for a good long time. It enabled me to find my balance and trust myself, to start by kneeling and then finally, to stand. I had been nervous about falling in but with time, I gained confidence. When we had gotten a good way around the lake, maybe about half-way, the weather felt increasingly warm, and we were getting tired. It became clear that going back through the center of the lake would be the most efficient and best way home, so we did just that. And at first, I was scared but I soon realized that I had built both muscle and confidence and I was so glad to know that I was not alone.
So many of our actions in a time of deep water are motivated by fear. We don’t want to fall, or suffer or struggle, or worse, to watch our dear ones do any of those things. We want to circle the edges and stay on our knees and keep safe, and just not tip over or lose control. Oh friend, of course we don’t want those things – control is the BEST! But sometimes in a season of pain, it’s the going through it, the standing and the moving through the heat of the middle, one bit at a time, that really is the best way Home, scary as it might be. For the spiritual muscle you’ll build, all the things you will learn, and the lighthouse you WILL become – there really is no other way. And my friend, please know that even though it may feel like it at times, you are never ever alone.
Thank you so much for listening today. Thanks to those who are sharing, rating, reviewing and subscribing to this podcast, it really means the world to me. If you’d like to engage with me on this topic or if you would like me to pray for you in your own Deep Water season, I would be so honored to do that. You can find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites or on my blog at mylittleepiphanies.com. But for now, let us pray here together.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
Oh God, we need you. In the Deep Water seasons of our lives, we need your presence, your help, and your clarity so I’m praying right now for my friend who is listening who needs all of those things right now for themselves or for a dear one. So God, show up, make Yourself and Your kindness known and real to us in this moment. Reach out a hand or send a boat or help us learn to rest in you no matter our circumstances. And thank you, God for helping us see your goodness here in the land of the living – even when it’s dark. In Jesus’s name we pray, amen.
Okay friend, thanks again for listening, and I’ll see you next time.