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Four Years at the Mount

Freshman year


Carolyn Shields

(April, 2011) My sweet goodness. This freshman is stressed. I guess it all boils down to putting my trust in God. To surrender your life to Him, you must trust him, and to trust him you must understand how much He loves you. Itís hard to reflect on Godís love and your struggle to trust him when your thoughts are scattered across the infinite plains of your mind, but nothing is more important than keeping Him at the vanguard of your thoughts. Stress gives us a chance to surrender our worries to God, but it must be this order: love, trust, surrender.

In the fall during those first precious Mondays at Adoration, I felt my heart grow in size to contain His love. And now I'm reflecting it back. The Mount has finally restocked on White Out Mountain Dews? Thanks God, I love you! Another PEOPLE magazine with Kate Middleton's face on the front? Thanks God, I love you! So the next step is trust, I guess. And it's so much harder.

I'm nineteen years old; the year is almost over; I'll be in a foreign country in a few months, and when I return my college experience will almost be half over! So why hasnít Ďthat guyí shown up yet? And if he's already here, why can't I tell?

Then I take a breath. God has made me feel silly not trusting Him and stressing over so much stuff in high school when it all worked out in the end. Periorbital abscess? Cured. Father leaving for Iraq? Returned. Agentless? Agented. So I should trust him! It should be easy! "You have given my heart more joy" than anyone one else (Ps4:8)! And two verses above that, it simply says, "Trust in the Lord." So why is it so hard? Because in the words of the founder of Fellowship of Catholic University Students, Curtis Martin, "we were made for more."

But the problem is we want more now. We were not meant to be fully pleased on this earth because this isn't our home. We know what awaits us, yet the Bible says, "I believe I shall enjoy the Lord's goodness in the land of the living" (Ps27:13). I'm not trying to get too philosophical because frankly, I'm not entirely sure what philosophy is and I haven't taken any theology classes yet. But my point is, it's hard placing my trust in a Being so supreme that he could give me anything at any moment (a certain future, a firm heart) and for reasons beyond my comprehension, he doesn't. At least not yet. So this is where trust comes in.

It's not just that my heart is driving me nuts, and I have to tell it a thousand times each day to trust in God but my future. I'm leaving for Ireland for three months in the fall. I'm living in an apartment. Holy cow, I'm living in an apartment in a city. Holy moly! I'm living in an apartment in a city in a foreign country! When I come back I need to buy a car, and I want to go on a mission trip to Belize next summer; in short, money is stressing me out. Though I have an agent looking at my full manuscript, I haven't heard back from her yet. As I packed boxes of Barbies on a rainy Sunday afternoon, I began saying goodbye to my childhood home as my family prepares to move. There is so much on my mind. Papers worth 10% of my grade disappearing on the computer, vacations needing planned for this summer. With our hectic lives, we forget that God should always be at the forefront of our thoughts. Love, TRUST, surrender. It should be a mantra or something.

To start, God loves you with every breath. The most profound moments to experience His love are the moments after we receive the Eucharist. St. Faustina vouched for this as well, declaring those moments as the most solemn in her life. I always feel my pulse beneath my skin and am reminded how much He loved me.

And once you love Him more than anything else in this world, and once you trust Him with all of your heart, you can surrender your life to Him. Though I haven't fully got the love thing down, and certainly not the trust one yet, and I'm nowhere near the surrender, I'm trying. I'm rereading my dad's copy of "The Purpose Driven Life" which he read during his leisure time in Balad (in between getting mortared and flying ambassadors around). The author, Rich Warren writes that we should do mundane things for the glory of God. So as I priced pens today at work, I said, "This one is for you, God. You're great." But it didn't feel great. It felt normal. But you know, what shouldn't feel habitual? Feeling the warm breath of a sleeping child on your cheek. The feel of rain on your neck as you rush to your car. The blush that creeps up your neck when you confess your sins, and the way your heart feels fresh when you leave the confessional. One of the ways to experience love is through the power of forgiveness, and this season of Lent is the time to seek it. Trusting in the Lord that your sins are washed away, you can start surrendering your life to Him and do little things for His glory. It all starts with confession.

So trust. It's laying your worries down at God's feet and trusting that He'll take care of them, be it your heart, your future, or your fears.

As our Lord trudges toward His cross this Lenten season, remember Him. As our Lord's flesh is penetrated by nails, love him. As we wait for our Lord to rise, trust in Him. And when He conquers death, surrender your all to Him. It will take more than forty days. It may take a lifetime, and it's never too late to start.

Love, trust, surrender. Love, trust, surrender. Boom. Mantra created.

Read other articles by Caroline Shields