Connie, you just published a book on trusting God. Can you tell us why you wrote this particular book?
Well, I am a teacher by nature. Whenever I learn something new, I like to share it with others. I love learning and I get excited about it, especially when I learn something that's life changing. That's how it was with learning to trust God. I've struggled to trust virtually all my life, and suddenly I began to learn how to abandon myself more to God. I knew so many other people could benefit from my experience. I had to share it.
So you've always had trouble trusting God?
Yes, as far back as I can remember. Over the years, I've read about the need for trust several times. However, I didn't know how to go about learning to trust more. The things I tried didn't seem to work.
What made this time different?
Frankly, I wonder if St. Therese was interceding for me. I have been asking for her intercession as part of my morning prayer for a while. Sometimes you just happen to be in the right place to accept a teaching on a deeper level than you ever have before. This time, when the topic of trust came up, I was ready.
And it was reading about St. Therese's little way that brought it up again, right?
Yes. For my birthday a couple years ago, I asked my husband to buy Fr. Jacques Philippe's book The Way of Trust and Love, which grew out of a series of retreats he gave on St. Therese. Until I read that, I didn't realize how central trust was to St. Therese's little way. Like a lot of people, I thought of the little way as "doing little things with great love." I believe that quote is actually from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, not St. Therese. Therese definitely did little things with great love, but that was not the focus of her spirituality. Jacques Philippe showed me that the little way is primarily about placing ourselves and our destinies totally in God's hands.
Your book contains a lot of memoir. Can you tell us about some of the stories?
Two of the stories that made the most impact on my life are in chapters 3 and 10. In 1974, when I was six, our family was in a tragic car accident. My sister who was ten was killed. She had been the one who prayed we would have a safe trip. While on the surface I accepted her death at the time, the incident really sowed seeds of distrust that I wouldn't recognize until many years later. When my husband and kids and I would travel, we would always start by praying for a safe trip. More and more I began to think about my sister's prayer. I began to fear that tragedy might occur despite our prayers. I began to question why God would not answer such prayers. If He didn't, what was the use of praying them?
In chapter 10 I tell the story of how I became involved with a non-Catholic church that used mind control techniques to recruit followers. That happened the summer after my sophomore year in college. It led to a deep spiritual darkness that, thankfully, only lasted a few days. But it also caused me to question what God's character was really like. Does He hear the prayers of sinners? Is He more exacting than merciful? Is He angry when we make mistakes? These questions were ones I actually needed to ask to come to a more mature faith. But it took me years to become comfortable with some of the answers.
How is your life different now than it was before your journey of trust?
I am so much more peaceful than I was just eighteen months ago. My outward circumstances, and even my exterior behavior, appear pretty much the same, but inside I am a different person. I no longer have the fears I once did. When I keep falling into the same sins, I don't get mad and frustrated with myself. I am determined to believe in God's goodness, no matter what.
To read more of Connie's writings, visit her blog Contemplative Homeschool, where I'm a regular subscriber.