Jesus taught us that in order to embrace the kingdom of heaven, we must become like little children. This, of course, does not mean to become childish, but we need to become childlike in our trust of God.
Explore, as fellow children of God, with our chat room members what it means to have childlike faith, and what that looks like in action. Part of that involves learning to trust the love of the imperfect humans God has placed into our lives. How can we learn to trust when God often shows his perfect love through imperfect instruments?
The below chat comes from a letter that St. Francis de Sales wrote to Madame de Veyssilieu from Paris, on 16 January 1619. In the end of that letter, he instructs her: “Really try to be a little child, my very dear daughter; and as you know, children don't have a lot of things to worry about because they have others to think for them; they are really strong if they stay close to their father.”
If you like the chat below, check out the Living Jesus Chat Room of the Visitation Sisters. Join us at 7:30 p.m. ET each Sunday! We read a passage of St. Francis de Sales and gather great insights and sharing!
Lover (N)Ever Changing
Question: How can we be sure of someone’s love for us? God is unchanging and His love is certain, but how can we not doubt the love of people who are ever changing and prone to sin and deception?
Visitation Sister: I think with people’s love, which might possibly change, the way it is expressed in kindness and charity shows its authenticity.
Sherry: There is also a time component. The longer someone shows “love” towards us – the easier it is to accept it that this person might love us. But I think, we honestly never can be fully sure. And the question is: How much shall we long for being loved by others?
Caroline: I have trouble with trust in situations where words do not reflect actions.
Sherry: Agree, Caroline. Or better said, how much shall we be attached to this love? I think it is great to be able to trust that someone loves me – without overly needing this love. Not saying that I fully achieved that in my life.
Caroline: Because we must not rely on it more than God’s love.
Sherry: Yes, Caroline, but it is so tempting, I find, to rely on worldly love – especially in times when God seems distant.
Caroline: We are made to need that love too.
Ben: I think it’s so important for us to unconditionally love others, even very difficult people. God has loved us as difficult as we are, as I know I have been!!!!
Rebecca: My oncologist noted early on that I have trouble with trust — especially of doctors. With good reason! But thanks be to God, I think, through it all, I am beginning to trust God a lot more. I like St. Francis de Sales’s letter.
Sherry: That’s wonderful, Rebecca. Growing in trust is such a major spiritual “achievement.” I do not mean to be flippant. But I honestly do not believe that people can love unconditionally. I think this is beyond our capacity.
Caroline: I would agree with that Sherry. It is a mark of saintly holiness.
Hanna: When earthly love has been far from unconditional it’s hard to trust again.
Sherry: It is, Hanna. But the more we learn to know God’s love, the more we grow in the ability to love and to trust – because we know we will never be destroyed by anyone. We are saved.
Rebecca: A gift, more than an achievement, I think. And it is people who teach trust in the first place. If I trusted like the child I was, I’d be much worse off than I am.
Visitation Sister: I find that going to Jesus often helps to put human love in perspective.
Sherry: I like that: “Puts human love in perspective.”
Ines: Sr. Susan, I agree with that statement. I ask Him to take the imperfect love of all of us and perfect it in His Heart. And to help me forgive when love doesn’t seem unconditional from others, and to forgive me when my love is tainted by selfishness or fear.
Sherry: That’s an interesting and lovely prayer, Ines.
Rebecca: When Jesus is invited into our hearts and into our lives, good things happen.
Ben: I think Jesus has definitely challenged us in His Two commandments to Love God and Love Everybody!!!! Not easy, but that’s why He sent us the Holy Spirit; I know that we can Love others unconditionally, with God’s assistance of course.
Sherry: Ben, I think I know what you mean. When we are so “drenched with the Holy Spirit” that we just become love – I have experienced that. But only for a short while to be honest.
Rebecca: Like at the wedding feast, even though he and his followers might’ve been responsible for them running out of wine.
Caroline: Yes, though there can be a lot of upheaval while everyone involved adjusts.
Ines: Regarding our inability to love perfectly and unconditionally, I’m reminded of Bing Crosby’s line in “White Christmas”: “Everybody’s got an angle.” To which Rosemary Clooney responds, “That’s awfully cynical.” And he says, “Everyone’s got a little larceny in them” (or some such paraphrase).
It’s true. So, don’t expect perfection from others’ love… recognize everyone is limited as I am, and give it to Christ. Otherwise, I run around constantly being disappointed, hurt, aggravated, etc. At other people’s “imperfect love.”
Sherry: Agree, Ines.
Ben: Everybody is a child of God also, they might not know it yet, it’s our job to help them get to know God and realize that they are Children of God!!!
Sherry: Ben, I hear the voice of a true evangelist!
Waiting for Heaven
Visitation Sister: Question 2: St. Francis mentions that we are only to live this life in order to attain eternal life. Why “put us to the test” like this? Why doesn’t God create things so that we are in heaven without the risk of sin, fear, lies, punishment, and suffering?
Caroline: Because the serpent tricked Eve. We live in a fallen world, but only for a brief time. We choose whom to follow.
Sherry: I had the same idea, Caroline: “Well, THANK YOU, Eve.”
Caroline: LOL, Sherry.
Rebecca: Because of LOVE, of course. It cannot be forced. It has to be given freely,
Sherry: Rebecca, that was my very second thought.
Ines: “O Happy Fault” — we come closer to God through adversity, being purified toward joining Him in heaven and the New Heaven and New Earth.
Caroline: The closer we are to Him, the harder it gets.
Sherry: You know, it might be more exhausting with our fallen nature and so on, but on the other sides we are also living much more intentionally for GOD – knowing better what is at stake. So, somehow the struggle makes the love all the way sweeter.
Rebecca: Seems so to me, too, in some ways, Caroline. And yet, in some ways it seems so remarkably simple. Do what you CAN in union with his will and leave the rest to him.
Ben: When others see us walk through adversity with God, they may start their journey toward God!!!!
Caroline: Through prayer, contemplation, His Word and simply snuggling up and letting Him tell us stories.
Burst Pipe Ruins Memorabilia
Rebecca: Half my house and possessions — family memorabilia, my poems, and reflections — were severely damaged by a burst pipe a month ago. It’s been an exhausting ordeal in some ways, just trying to get a reliable plumbing and heating repair service and help to get rid of items— carrying out soaked mattresses, carpeting ruined with the rusty water. A supporting column in the basement even buckled under the weight of the water. The fire department pumped three inches of water out of the basement.
Sherry: Oh my, Rebecca.
Rebecca: And the trouble started in my “prayer room” where I also write personal letters.
Sherry: What are you indicating, Rebecca?
Caroline: Oh, Rebecca! Sounds like an attack.
Sherry: By the way, Caroline, that would have been my answer too. The song “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so” came to my mind too. Oh, Rebecca, that sounds so exhausting on every level.
Caroline: I love it when hymns just pop into my mind. Always appropriate to the situation.
Sherry: Do you have insurance? Although memories cannot be substituted for money.
Ben: I’m sorry, Rebecca, you have been through so much!!!! Your Great Faith through so many trials and tribulations has been a Great Inspiration to me!!!!! I think of you often when those big trials hit me!!!!
Caroline: Me too, but seriously.
Sherry: Yes, Ben, you are right. Rebecca really shows how trials can be carried in the arms of God.
Rebecca: No. Not poor Rebecca, even though I have no insurance. By the grace of God, I am like the little kid who asked his dad for a pony. He was given a barn full of horse manure. He shoveled, and shoveled, expecting that with all that horse manure, there must be a pony in there somewhere.
Rebecca: Thanks for the chuckle, Sherry.
Ben: I Hope that we all can visit the Mansion Jesus is Building for you in Heaven!!!! Your faithfulness has inspired generations of God’s People!!!!
God Will Rescue Us
Visitation Sister: Question 3 fits in with your situation, Rebecca: How important is it to look back and acknowledge when God has rescued us from calamity? Or healed us from a certain sin or from the injury of another?
Caroline: It is critical. By doing so we strengthen our faith and practice gratitude.
Sherry: Yes, it is critical. Otherwise, we are only built up in “false self-sufficiency.”
Ben: Amen, Sherry!!!!!!
Rebecca: You got it, Caroline! I know that there is a lesson in this for me, and that is what I am looking for. I keep on thanking God, even as I hang up to dry the pages of a precious icon book that was standing on the floor because it was too big for the shelves. When we go back and acknowledge that this outcome was God’s work – that we could not have done it without him, it strengthens our GOD-dependence and weakens our self-reliance.
Sherry: Oh, Rebecca. I wish we could read next week, that because of the flooding, you found a crazy amount of money — that was hidden in one of the books on the shelves. One can dream.
Rebecca: The song that popped into your head was the same one I was singing as I did that job, and a number of others. Thanking God! So important. And knowing that EVERYTHING he does or ALLOWS can be turned to His greater Glory. Our own vision is so weak. I am so weak. So easily exhausted.
Sherry: But maybe the real treasure is – in having a close look at all you have – the richness – of having meaningful things – and being invited to say, ‘Well, LORD, it is all yours too.” It is so easy to sit at the computer and write all these things and so hard to have this actually happening to you.
Caroline: This is true, but I think we have all been there.
Sherry: Well, I never lost my books to flooding. I must admit, I have kind of an unhealthy attachment to my books though. P.S. Don’t tell my husband.
Rebecca: I am given things to LAUGH about every day — mostly my own faults and clumsiness.
Ben: My friends just returned from Kentucky and were blown away by the genuine thankfulness of the people who lost everything in those Tornadoes!!!!!!
Sherry: You are choosing to laugh because you are choosing not to take yourself so seriously. And you can do that, Rebecca, because you are oriented towards GOD.
Caroline: If I had all the books I’ve given away, I would be living in a tent on the patio.
Sherry: My goal, Caroline.
Caroline: Lol. I have sold almost everything a couple of times chasing Him. And I already have like twenty boxes of books again.
Sherry: We have a neat neighborhood initiative online here. You just post online what you do not want to keep and arrange a pickup time with someone who might want that – great exchange happening in the neighborhood.
Chickens in the Garage
I sure was attached to my skillful hands, but even that is no more. I spilled a two-pound-ten-ounce box of oatmeal just before coming online. The chickens will enjoy it. I’ve been sweeping it up ever since.
Sherry: You have chickens in your apartment?
Rebecca: No Sherry, not IN the apartment. Under it. In the garage. I was in the process of converting my shed into a chicken coop when THEY decided they wanted to live in the garage. The Rhode Island red had tried to follow me into the house, but I wouldn’t let her.
Sherry: Chicken can be so funny. They have their own mind it seems. I would love to have two chickens. Not allowed in our city.
Rebecca: We have a local Neighbors Helping Neighbors site on Facebook too. It is good. I’d posted photos of a lot of nice toys shortly before Christmas. No response. And now, a woman phoned me — unrelated — saying that I’d been recommended to see her son, as psychiatrist — and that waiting three months would not be too much. I was not sure if I should renew my medical license registration. Still am not. But she plans to call me back at the end of February. The toys are for working with children in my practice, that is now the part of the house I am living in and cluttering up.
Sherry: Rebecca, I did not know that you were a psychiatrist. How wonderful.
Caroline: And maybe you’re keeping the toys!
Sherry: I will pray for you, Rebecca. It sounds exciting that you might go back. How do you feel about it? You could set your own hours, right? So, you could adjust to your energy levels. I have a feeling that being back in the field might even be energizing for you.
A Childlike Faith
Visitation Sister: Question 5: How can we gain a more “childlike” faith such as St. Francis describes?
Sherry: I came to terms with throwing things out – or giving them to Salvation Army. I can forgive myself that I might have purchased something and not used it until it falls apart.
Ben: Even when we make mistakes, we can look to God, and He will guide us to help someone else in some way!!!!! I am thankful to all who have shared their mistakes with me. It has helped me to keep looking to God when I make mistakes and share with others!!!!!
Caroline: To gain a more childlike faith, we must accept everything as a gift.
Sherry: Good point.
Ben: Childlike faith, simple trust in God, and ease in forgiveness like in kindergarten!!!! They forgive and return to loving each other so easily!!!!!
Caroline: Because they live in the moment still.
Visitation Sister: Deep within, many of us have a childlike soul.
Ben: So True!!!!
Sherry: It happened not too long ago, that I actually started to realize what It REALLY means to be a child of GOD. It was during a prayer time – it almost felt like an identity exchange to me. Ever since then, my prayers have been so much more faithful, I find. I am thoroughly enjoying it – to be a daughter of God.
Caroline: Oh, Sherry, that is ecstasy.
Sherry: I am not sure if it was ecstasy – but it was a deep grace that was given to me.
Visitation Sister: Beautiful experience, Sherry.
Ben: When we are truly united to the Heart of Jesus, He removes that Heart of Stone that can build up and He gives us that Childlike Heart that has feeling and can Love and forgive easily!!!!!
Rebecca: Perfect, Sherry! That IS your identity: Daughter of God, and mine too. Actually, everyone is a child of God — baptized in a special way. That makes us all siblings.
Sherry: I know. I can see it all so clearly now. And, Jesus as the first born. That never fully made sense to me before – but now that is just so clear.
Visitation Sister: What a lovely thought to end on. I have to leave but please stay on! Blessings to all!
If you liked the chat above, check out the Living Jesus Chat Room of the Visitation Sisters. Join us at 7:30 p.m. ET each Sunday when a Visitation Sister moderates our discussion!