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  • Writer's pictureC. J. Parke

Letters of Encouragement: crisis of faith

Dear sister,

“If only You had been here…” Martha’s words ring true over two thousand years later. How many times have I caught myself dejectedly saying that same phrase to God? One of the great beauties and pains of going through a crisis of faith is that it can look so different from person to person: Sarah laughed when she heard God’s plan for her and Abraham, not believing that God could possibly work a miracle; Rachel yelled at God for a son; her sister Leah must have prayed that her husband would love her even though she could provide Jacob children yet Rachel could not for the longest time; Hannah wept silently at the temple. Four women doubting Love’s plan for them in very different ways.

As for me, sometimes all it takes is a glance at my body to send me spiraling into a crisis of faith. Granted, it’s not always a “big C” crisis of faith, but the “little c” crises that happen day in and day out can affect us just as much, over time. I remember that God has not fixed the intersex condition I was born with that makes me infertile. The same condition that makes me need an IUD to keep my body running “normally”. The same body that now cannot handle gluten (and subsequently has minor anxiety attacks when attending a new church, getting to Mass early enough to make sure arrangements can be made for receiving a low-gluten host). The same body that rushed out of the church without thinking, because the usher told me that the priest had once said he “had no time” to deal with low-gluten hosts when another parishioner had needed them. It’s often the doubt that I, an intersex and infertile woman, have a place in the Church that sends me spiraling.

For you, sister, maybe it happens when you hear something awful in the news. Maybe it’s when someone who you love or admire (someone who professes to follow the same “God who is love” as you) acts in a way that is the exact opposite of love. Maybe it’s when you see the latest pregnancy or birth announcement, or when you go through the pain of attending a coworker’s baby shower. A crisis of faith may just be asking God yet again: “Why was I passed up for that job?” or “Why did our pastor have to be so hurtful about starting this ministry at the parish?” Sometimes it is something that you are able to work through and feel resolved about after a crying/venting/praying session, but if you’re like me, hardly a day goes by without wanting to yell at God, and without wondering what keeps me tethered to the faith.

Sister, please know that these moments do not make you a bad Catholic, even for a moment. Sit with those emotions and questions at Love’s feet. Scream them at God if that is what needs to happen. My spiritual director once told me that the way to find myself out of these situations is to find the key to the part of my soul that is truly hurting. So I pray over and over: “Love, let me find the key I need”. Sometimes I meditate on saints who were hurt over and over, and maybe even killed for the faith or allowed to die of sickness (St. Monica, St. Katherine of Alexandria, Sts. Martha and Mary, St. Joan of Arc, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, to name just a few) and see what they all had in common: trust in finding the logic behind the seeming absurdity of faith. So maybe you can do what I do and pray this little litany I created for myself.

For when it’s hard to believe that God exists:

Love, help me find the key to Your heart.

For when I believe God doesn't care about or listen to me:

Love, help me find the key to Your heart.

For when I believe the world seems overwhelming and Love is so far away:

Love, help me find the key to Your heart.

For when I believe I deserved this because of the way I used to live my life and that I’m not, nor ever have been, good enough:

Love, help me find the key to Your heart.

For when I believe I was created with a body that is not made by or for love:

Love, help me find the key to Your heart.

For when I believe that I was only meant to be filled with grief, loss and pain:

Love, help me find the key to Your heart.

For when I believe that God does not embrace me as Love’s own child:

Love, help me find the key to Your heart.

For when another set-back knocks me over and it seems so hard to stand up again:

Love, help me find the key to Your heart.

For when I believe that there is only cold and dark instead of eternal love and warmth:

Love, help me find the key to Your heart.

Sister, know that I am praying for you regardless of what crisis you may be going through. I hope you can find even a glimmer of the love you deserve to have all the time. May your love for God, others and yourself be strengthened as you go through the hard times, even if that seems impossible at the moment. May Jesus, Mary, and all the angels and saints support you through whatever you are facing and whatever lies ahead. For as Love’s daughter, that is what you deserve. Please pray for me as I am praying for you as we all navigate our way to Love.


This is part of our “Letters of Encouragement” series. To read all of the letters, search the “encouragement” filter on the blog.

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