Tightening my grip

"Madonna and Child" (detail) by Sassoferrato

“Madonna and Child” (detail) by Sassoferrato


There are few things in life that make you desire to be a child again more than being sick. (Other than Disney World, but that’s a completely different and much nicer feeling.)  When I had the misfortunate of being waylaid by a bug earlier this week, all I could think was that I wanted my mommy.

There was no one to bring me toast or water, no one to remind me to drink the water, and no one to do everything that wasn’t getting done while I was in bed.  I felt helpless and frankly, pretty pitiful. I just wanted to be seven again.

I was powerless to do much for myself, and I was grateful beyond measure when a friend came after work to bring me some groceries.

There’s a good reason Christ calls us to remember our child-like status in His Kingdom.  We are sons and daughters of the King, which on one hand means we have great dignity and responsibility: “So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God” (Galatians 4:7). But with that dignity also comes dependence. We are ultimately powerless without Him.  “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

While we are dependent on him every day of our lives, that’s easy to forget when life is good and things are going well.  We can begin to deceive ourselves into thinking we have everything under control. It may take suffering—or even sin—to realize how utterly helpless we truly are.

When we fall into sin, we have to come face-to-face with the reality that we can do nothing to get ourselves out of the situation.  Like lying sick in bed, we are forced to admit we are powerless to help ourselves.

St. Francis de Sales reminds us, “God will hold you in his hand, and if he lets you stumble, it will be only so that you realize that you would collapse entirely if he did not hold you, and thus to make you tighten your grip upon his hand.”

Even sin, as deadly as it is, can work for good if it reminds us that we need a Savior.  The repentant sinner is more cognizant of his vulnerability and helplessness than the person who never falls (or doesn’t recognize his sins).  While we must always detest sin and flee from near occasions of sin, if we do fall, we have the joy of running back into the arms of the Father.

Whatever you face today—whether it’s physical suffering, spiritual suffering, or the best day of your life—know that the only reason you’re not collapsing is because he’s in control. May we all tighten our grip on his hand today!

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About the Author

Joannie Watson

Joan Watson was born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana, but college and graduate school took her to Virginia, Ohio, and Rome. After graduating from Christendom College with a B.A. in History and Franciscan University with a M.A. in Theology, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to be part of the explosion of Catholic culture in the middle of the Bible Belt.

She has been blessed to work for Dr. Scott Hahn at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia at Aquinas College. She is presently the Director of Adult Formation for the Diocese of Nashville. She also serves as the Associate Editor of Integrated Catholic Life.

When she’s not testing the culinary exploits of new restaurants or catching up on the latest BBC miniseries, she’s FaceTiming with her eight nephews and nieces and enjoying her role as coolest aunt. She likes gelato, bourbon, and the color orange.

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