"we're not immune to tragic events or to illness or to anything. We just have a different, I guess, we just have a different way of approaching it and that's through the lens of faith."
Faith is stronger than life's struggles if we attend to it. Liz shares how her faith in Jesus Christ has evolved and how that has helped her in her life's journey. Although there have been many challenges what has strengthened her is her growing relationship with Christ. Hear how a Christian can shine God's light in the darkness.
The following are edited excerpts and outline of the conversation from this podcast interview.
[00:00:11] Liz, how would you describe your faith growing up?
My faith growing up was, well it was kind of like something that we did. We went to church. I was not, I didn’t grow up Catholic but I did grow up going to church but I never really had, I would say I wouldn’t really, I wouldn’t, I didn’t have a relationship with our Lord until later on in my life and growing up going to church was kind of on the same level as I would say like going to the movies or going to any other activity that I had. And then once I became like a higher level gymnast that kind of took over going to church on Sundays.
So there was a huge period where I did not go to church at all and then kind of went back in my teen years but again same thing. It wasn’t really anything more than an activity that I would do on the Sunday and maybe to please my parents or just because that’s what our family did. And then later on I had gone through some health issues, I had met a really interesting guy who was very, very into his faith, very devout Catholic and then I think that’s when I, kind of like nudged me and introduced me to the Lord and my relationship with the Lord kind of, there was a seed that was planted there at that moment.
[00:01:39] What would be the biggest difference in your faith compared to growing up? What’s one distinguishing factor you can highlight?
I think the biggest highlight would be that now every thought, every action, every decision is made from the light of faith. From a standpoint of having faith, of believing in what our Lord has said, believing in what the gospel teaches us and rooting myself in those truths and then being able to, like yeah, make a decision, take a stance or whatever that may be. It’s coming from a position that is rooted in our Lord and rooted in what his truths are.
It’s very counter-cultural if you go with the decisions or what the world is telling you it conflicts at times and then you wonder, you kind of wonder which, you know, what decision should I make, you know? How should I, how should I treat this, you know, this problem or this decision that I have to make?
And sometimes if you go with what the world tells you to do it can lead you down a whole wrong total path that you don’t want to go into. And then if you look at, you know, what the gospel says, what our Lord says and you actually decide like, you know, maybe I’ll give that a try and then you see that in the end it’s like, well that made sense, you know, like there’s a reason for these, you know, rules and so on.
[00:03:10] So you’re saying at one point you immersed yourself in scripture. How did that come about for you?
I think it started with, it started with the Mass..like I said I was going through a health issue. I had been diagnosed with lupus when I was 16 and then this was my third time that my lupus had become active again. And at this point they were like you’re going to have to do some light chemotherapy because at this point your kidneys like, we’ve tried medications and we have to try something even stronger now.
And I was at a point where I had just met a guy, a devout Catholic, you know, he just asked me what my relationship with God was and I really didn’t have one. And for some reason I decided like, you know what, he is so calm in any stressful situation, let me go to Mass to see what it’s all about. And I went to Mass and that first time I walked into, it was like a Basilica, like of course I had to walk into a gorgeous Basilica. And I felt this like soothing calm and just this peacefulness and I just kept going back. And then as I was going, as I was going back day after day during my lunch break there would be like little bits of scripture that would always like, kind of nudge me or speak to me and just be the exact thing that I needed to hear that day. And I was like, this is really wild and this was really crazy and this is also really beautiful because it was really giving me strength, it was really giving me courage, it was making me understand my purpose and the purpose for me going through this season of life and this period…
[00:06:14] So then you’re facing this illness, lupus, but then you’re also starting to discover this newfound faith, how did this newfound faith affect that situation?
Whenever I have like an issue or something my husband will always, well not always but he often will begin the phrase with ‘it’s like in the Bible when it says…’ So it was one of those points and he referenced a part where they asked Jesus like, who sinned for this man to have this infirmity? Was it like his parents or what was it this? And then Christ just says that he has it so that our Father may be glorified in him. And then I came to realize during this period when I was going through these treatments that…the Lord has given me this as a gift for me to glorify him and bring him to the world and share him to the world through this and this is my this is my gift from him…
[00:08:00] Is there any other part of the Gospels or the Bible that stood out for you more as you’re facing a situation? That it wasn’t until you faced a certain situation that you saw how it applied to you?
…I remember when we had just got married and my husband was for some reason thinking that there might be a chance that we were pregnant. We weren’t sure or I wasn’t sure. He seemed pretty sure and then I remember reading the gospel of the day and the gospel acclamation was ‘I have chosen you from the world to go and bear fruit that will last’ and I was like, oh well given that that’s the gospel acclamation for today maybe I should take a test. And then lo and behold we had conceived our first child.
And then it it happened again recently except for this time unfortunately we miscarried and it’s the same bible verse but it brought just the attention to bearing fruits that will last and knowing that even though this pregnancy didn’t go as far as the 40 weeks, that that was still, that that soul is still fruit that is lasting in God’s arm…I think that’s the beauty of scripture and the beauty of how the Lord will speak to you wherever you are in your journey as long as you just continue to reach for him, reach for him and say ‘yes, I want to journey.’
[00:09:54] I’ve noticed that you’re saying that scripture is speaking to you but I’ve also noticed that you’re also implying that God has spoken to you through your husband. Are there other ways where you’re hearing God reach out to you?
I have a friend and she always tells me that our Lord does this game of hide-and-seek with us. So in all the challenges of the day he’s there, he’s there somewhere. He may be hiding, he may be playing that hide-and-seek game but it’s our opportunity to look for the joy in trying to find him in that moment. As stressful as picking up Cheerios from the floor again for the umpteenth time in a row, no matter how many times you tell your toddler that ‘no, the Cheerios do not go on the floor’ but just finding him in those moments like that.
Definitely my kids bring a lot of light to my relationship with the Lord. Sometimes when they act a certain way and then I think to myself, ‘I act the exact same way with our Lord. This is me.’ Yeah, sometimes I have a tantrum with our Lord and this is how I’m acting with him and so it’s kind of like, sometimes it’s a reflection like a mirror image of this is how I act with the Lord…
[00:13:06] How would you explain those two forces coming together, your faith with the in moment frustrations and challenges?
…as a person and like any person of faith you will still have those human emotions, you’ll still be angry, you’ll still get frustrated, you’ll still be sad and it’s fine to be in those emotions and it’s fine to feel those emotions. What I would encourage is to bring Christ into those emotions and know that he’s there with you in those emotions and know that not only is he there…he knew you would go through this event, he knew you would go through this challenge, he knew you would come up to this point and have to face this but he promised that he will be there and so I would just encourage that, to invite him into those moments.
I think that that’s one thing that really helps me go through the passing of our daughter. Just to look at a crucifix and know like, Lord, you of all people understand this pain. Look at Mary and be like, Mother Mary, you of all people understand this pain and know that I’m not alone in this pain and that if I invite them into this moment I can hold fast to the resurrection. That there is something beyond this point and our Lord promises a beyond this point and he shows us that there is resurrection and he shows us that there is light after the darkness…
[00:16:29] How do you exactly deal with a challenge in the moment as it presents itself?
I think it’s like an in the moment thing. Like, we are a Catholic family so we have the crucifix in every room. We have, you know, we try to have pictures of Mary in every room and it’s just those reminders…a focus point that you can turn to during the day…my children will hear me say like, just blurt out a prayer of like, ‘Lord Jesus I don’t know what you want, what are you trying to teach me here but like please help me.’ They’ll just hear me blurt out something like that if I’m really struggling with them in a moment…
[00:18:50] Thinking back on your life, what have you learned about yourself because you remained faithful or you grew in faith?
I think I’ve learned a lot, that I’m stronger than I think. I don’t give myself enough credit for that and I think that I’ve learned that I have a voice. Our Lord has given me a voice and I do him harm not to share that part of me. I think that’s what I’ve learned…that the Lord has given me talents and gifts that are meant to be shared in order to glorify him.
[00:22:30] I ask all my guests at the end of the interview these same questions, the first is: what is one scripture verse or part of the Bible that really resonates with you and why?
…when our daughter passed away we created like a coat of arms for our family and that scripture verse on there, on that coat of arms is ‘seek first the kingdom of heaven.’ So that’s one that’s big for our family…When I was first diagnosed with lupus for some reason my dad didn’t really have anything to say so he had just photocopied a page from his Bible and it was Psalm 103. And I remember putting that in my high school graduation blurb as just my little, I don’t know, what people from high school could remember me by…
[00:24:28] What is one word or a couple of words that you would like God to use in describing you?
I would hope it would be something like loyal or devoted or faithful. Yeah, maybe something like that. I want to be able to say that whatever life threw at me I will not leave his side. That’s what I want to be able to say at the end of my days. I want to be able to say that I held fast and I stuck with him because he stuck with me always. So maybe, yeah, maybe something like loyal or devoted.
[00:25:11] Is there any last comments you feel we left out, you want to add, anything you want to promote or like others to support?
Definitely would be open if you had any listeners who wanted to reach out or who were in need of support, if they thought I could help in any way. I would definitely be willing to lend a hand or help a person walk in their faith or grow in their faith and very open and very like willing to do that for someone…we’re not immune to tragic events or to illness or to anything. We just have a different, I guess, we just have a different way of approaching it and that’s through the lens of faith.