For a while now my family has been facing a series of crises. From financial issues to suffering through both chronic and acute illnesses to losing another baby to watching someone we love dearly make bad decisions and then having to suffer the consequences of those actions. To say it has been difficult would be an understatement. For a long time now it has felt like the weight of the world has rested squarely on my shoulders.
If it had not been for my faith and my wonderful friends I’m not sure how I would have made it through.
I’m always thankful for our Catholic belief that there is grace and hope within suffering. We only have to look at the cross to see how very powerful suffering can be. It was through suffering that we gained life.
I love the fact that we are encouraged to “offer it up” for those who may need the prayers and God’s grace in their lives. When we have a person in mind to offer our sufferings for it becomes a blessing to be able to sacrifice and pray for them in that manner. It takes away the focus on “me” and redirects the focus to “them”. It is a powerful way to make it through the darkest times of our lives.
I am also thankful for Christ’s strong shoulders that are willing to carry my crosses for me. As we suffer and face hardships we are often told to “give it to Christ” or “give it to God” and He will take care of it. What a tremendous gift it is to have a caring Savior who is willing to take on our worst pain and make it His own so that we don’t have to carry such a heavy and painful cross! Allowing God to take on our worries, our struggles, our despair, and our fears frees us in a way that we could never achieve on our own.
As I contemplated some of the problems we are facing now, I thought about how wonderful it is to hand these worries over to God. But as I thought about this I felt the Spirit whisper to me, “I want more.” Confused, I wondered what this could mean. “How can I give you more, Lord?” I prayed. Quietly an answer came to my heart… “I want everything.”
I was still confused. I had given Him my everything- I trusted Him to guide us through these terrible heartaches and I calmly placed my children, my husband, and myself all into His hands. I even had prayed, “Lord, Your will be done!” and I meant it with all my heart. How could I give Him more?
The answer came suddenly to me, “I want it all… your hurts, your struggles, your crosses, your doubts, and your fears. But I also want you to offer your joys, your triumphs, and your happiness to me.”
I felt convicted. While I have always thanked God for the good in my life, I had never given those joys to Him. I was quick to offer up my suffering, but to offer up the good in my life had never crossed my mind. While I hand Him my suffering so that He can make something good and worthwhile come from it, I was keeping my joy to myself and not giving Him that as well… I was squirreling it away for my own benefit. I felt remorseful because after all, doesn’t He deserve our joy too?
Our God is a giving and loving God. He is a strong and protective Father. He feels our sorrow and pain but He also rejoices along with us in our happiness. He wants to be included in every aspect of our lives. There is nothing we should hide or keep from Him. He wants us to give Him our suffering, our joy, our hearts, and our souls. He wants to experience everything we go through on a very deep and personal level. He wants us to invite Him into the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds. This happens when we give Him our everything.
And so today I vow to give my joy and happiness to God as quickly as I give Him my suffering and pain. Everything I have, everything I am, everything I hope for, and everything I experience is His. I know that He will make good come from all that I go through and offer to Him and He will share His love and grace with me.
When I offer my joy to God I die to myself and I begin to truly live for Him because I am no longer focused on what makes me happy but what will make God happy. By offering Him everything I am He will make me new and I will rejoice in His holy Presence in my life.
Michelle Fritz is a daughter of God, a cradle Catholic, a Georgia peach, a devoted wife of almost 30 years to amazing husband Mike, and an eclectic homeschooling mother to eleven living children. She has experienced the loss of 16 babies in her call to be open to life, but knows that God is always loving and always gracious. She and her husband know that they have an army of Saints already in heaven!
In addition to her vocation as wife, mom, and homeschool teacher she also holds a Masters in Theology and has recently taken on the role of Youth Minister for both the middle school and high school groups at her parish.