“I’ll pray for you.”
Suddenly those four words touched me like never before. After being away from the Church for so many years, those words made me want – need – faith back in my life.
In 1996, when I was 26 years old, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I got the call from my brother when I was living in L.A. I heard this devastating news from him because that’s how we deal with “difficult” emotions in my family – indirectly.
I remember meeting in the oncologist’s office with my mom and my brother. I sat in the chair in the back on the side wall. I was overwhelmed by the words I was hearing: malignacy; nodes; lumpectomy; chemo. These words once foreign, now had great meaning in my life.
For the next few months, I watched my mom go through radiation, chemotherapy & hair loss. Although she did not verbalize it much, I could feel her fear, sadness and guilt. I watched her face turn white from fatigue and could physically see the life drain out of her. I would come back to L.A. after a weekend of caring for my mom and without warning, cry uncontrollably. In the car, at work, at the “wrong” times. I needed comfort but I did not feel I could go to my family for it. We were busy “staying strong” for mom, which meant denying the importance our own feelings of fear and sadness.
I believe in the power of feeling faith.
“I’ll pray for you.” Those words spoken by my friend – now husband – changed me.
Suddenly, I felt like I wasn’t alone. Finally, I could entrust somebody with my feelings. Giving my fears, my sadness – my wide open, raw self- to God somehow gave me a sense of control. Those words reminded me to call upon the same faith I grew up with as a child. But this faith had never been tangible to me.
Growing up, I went to a catholic school and attended Mass on Sundays. I said the Our Fathers and Hail Mary’s when I was told to. As a child, faith for me, was just another subject to learn in school. But this subject, I didn’t get graded on. This subject was not quantifiable. So how could I measure it’s value to me?
When my mom got cancer, for the first time in my life, I let faith find me. This time, I let myself feel God’s presence in my life and allow my faith in Him to heal me.
Through this experience, I realized that finding my faith was not about being told what or how to believe. For me, finding faith in God was about making a space in the quiteness of my soul to listen and to receive.
My mom has been in remission now for 13 years. Looking back, I believe that not only did she go through her own journey, I did too. Through the fear and the sadness and the many struggles I’ve had since then, I am grateful for the realization that facing these feelings – and feeling faith – can deeply enrich my life, if I have the courage to let it.
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