September 2, 2011

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Remember that with God, everything will be OK

Patti LambA friend recently told me that her husband has encountered some serious health concerns and a plethora of tests were needed.

Later that same week, their basement flooded, which required major restoration efforts accompanied by a hefty price tag. She asked me to look at carpet samples and weigh in with my color vote.

At first, we kept the conversation light, but then she began talking about her frustrating string of days. I asked what I could do to help besides saying prayers.

When I said that I would pray, she made no comment but simply stopped talking for a few seconds and looked at me intently. After a somewhat awkward pause, I assured her that, one way or another, it would all work out in the end.

Rather candidly, my friend said, “Thanks for the vote of confidence, but how do you know it’s all going to be OK?”

She suggested that maybe she just needed to get in touch with her inner cheerleader. Then she made a comment that I vividly remember.

“I just wish I could understand where your eternal optimism is rooted,” she said. She implied that if she could find the source of such optimism, she would surely tap into it and breathe easier.

Our conversation was interrupted when she received an important phone call, and she dashed off to pick up her son. Our schedules in the following weeks were not in sync. We didn’t connect for some time.

Meanwhile, I composed the answer to her questions in my head.

How do I know that it’s all going to be OK? Where is my “eternal optimism” rooted?

Simply put, it is God. God is my source of optimism. My faith is what keeps me going. If I woke up every morning and thought that this world was all there is, that suffering and sickness were our final fate, and that cruelty reigned, then I would be discouraged.

But I’ve heard the “good news.” Now I more fully understand why that is what it is called.

I didn’t realize that my faith gives me such peace. My life is not perfect by any means. But believing that I will work my way back to God, and be reunited with him in a place where there is no more suffering and sadness, helps me to endure days that make no sense. Our faith is a gift. It’s a bridge to an eternal life of love.

My friend and I come from different backgrounds. She was not brought up with any sort of religion and does not attend church. This does not make her a bad person.

In fact, she is one of my favorite people. She’s witty, and her sense of humor is unmatched. We share an affinity for lots of the same things, and time spent with her is always uplifting. She has just never been properly introduced to God.

My Catholic faith is a bit of a foreign concept to her. Still, I assured her of my prayers and did my best to deliver a message of encouragement rooted in Christ.

Last night, I received an e-mail from her, and it was one sentence.

“[My husband] goes in for his MRI in the morning, but I just wanted to let you know that, although I’m frightened, your faith, your conviction—it buoys me.”

I learned that we can introduce others to God, and reacquaint them with hope by the simple promise of a prayer and the steadfast belief that, with God, everything will be OK.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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