October 3, 2023 // Perspective

Dropping to Our Knees Instead of Dropping Out

“The Lord must love you very much,” a wise friend recently encouraged me.

I’d just shared with her that a close relative of mine was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. My confidante has been paying close enough attention to my life to know that I was now adding “caregiver” back into my daily job description. This situation, on top of a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes earlier in the month and my cancer recuperation, struck her as a lot for one person to bear.

“The Lord must love you very much to trust you to carry all of this without falling or failing or dropping away from the weight,” she wrote to me. “Instead, you’ll just drop to your knees.”

To be honest, her words gave me pause.

Just a few days earlier, I’d had a fairly severe conversation with God at daily Mass. “What the heck, Heavenly Father?” I whined mentally in that fragment of silence during the intercessory prayers. “Wouldn’t one of these situations be sufficient? I don’t know if I can deal with all three of them right now.”

That day after Mass, I lingered in my pew to chase down a portion of Scripture that had popped into my head. Into my phone I typed, “sufficient grace.” A flurry of clicks led me to Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, where the saint begged God three times for release from a challenging situation. St. Paul’s epistle offers the divine words he heard in response from God: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).

Confronting my physical and emotional weakness and being open and honest about it with myself and others has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I’ve long prided myself on being a glass-is-99-percent-full person. Until this year, if I had a problem, I was unlikely to say much about it to anyone else. I recognize now that a good deal of what I thought was simply positivity and coping might also be pride and mistrust in the fullness of God’s mercy.

Dropping to our knees, whether it’s because of a burden of our own or one borne by a loved one, places us in a position of weakness. I don’t like feeling weak.

But if we are paying attention when we hit our knees, we might also realize that in our smallness, we enter into greater solidarity with all of the souls around our world who are already there.

In his apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris, Pope St. John Paul II encourages each of us to ponder the Christian meaning of human suffering. “In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption,” he wrote. “Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ.”

Whether I am literally or figuratively driven to my knees in my moments when I feel overwhelmed, I am now trying to intentionally make note of this posture of humility and weakness. I am more purposefully inviting God into these moments.

But I am also, more than ever before, sharing honestly and openly with faithful friends about my true emotions. Doing this is partially about asking them to lift our family in prayer in the moments when I feel too overwhelmed to pray for myself.

But it’s also my attempt to be more truthful about where I actually am in my relationship with God.

Intellectually, I trust God implicitly. Spiritually, I have some work to do on becoming a sharer in Christ’s redemptive suffering and that of my brothers and sisters around the world.

On my knees, content in my weakness, and begging for God’s grace, I am realizing how very much God loves me.

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder of CatholicMom.com, a bestselling author and an international speaker. 

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.