trust creates saints

Trust in the midst of adversity is what creates a saint. 

Trust is a gift and a choice.

It cannot be formed without a constant breaking of oneself.

I find trust to be one of the most fascinating/difficult ideals. 

Alongside with its brother humility, it is fundamental to the life of the Christian.

The deepest trust is the gateway for the grace of faith.

Trusting though magnificent, is extremely difficult.

In the past it felt easy. I proclaimed to God how much I trust in Him. Yet, when adversity came I watched my knees shake and allowed myself to become paralyzed. This was not trust at all.

I think we all have fallen victim to this at times.

We proclaim our trust in God, yet our actions speak otherwise.

We are like Peter before he walked out to Christ on the water. As the trials come we shout to God how much we trust Him, yet we never step out of the boat.

Why is trust so difficult?

We live in a world where we always feel like someone is out to get us. In our social media/email generation we can never turn parts of our life off. I know for me, I always feel like I am forgetting something. As students too, we are primed from a young age to be sure we never forget any assignment or else we will get in trouble. This has instilled in us the habit of wanting to control ever single aspect of life.

We have become a generation of trusting by looking in not by looking outside ourselves. 

Recently I took some board exams for medical school. In the middle of the studying, I could feel another test occurring in my soul.

A test of trust. 

These exams determine a lot. They can really help or hurt me in my process to residency programs (what type of doctor I can be.)

Throughout the process of intense studying, I didn’t really have anyone to rely on. Sure, I had my family and my fiancee. But come test day, it was God, me, and the computer screen. And deep down I knew that truth.

Have you ever had a moment in your life where you felt fully alone?

These moments, where control is impossible, is the moment for trust.

Trust is unique because it is only built in our souls when times of struggle come.

Struggle and suffering is the concrete that builds the brick wall of trust.

Trust is built in trial; therefore, we must not waste our trials with anxiety and distress.

This does not mean you must not feel anxious, scared, upset, sad etc. You will of course feel these emotions. You are in fact human. To be immune to feeling these emotions you would cease to be human. However, the choice to remain paralyzed is ours. The choice to choose trust is written on our souls.

How can we show Christ how much we trust in Him?

When the storms are rough, we do not run away, rather we run into the rain. 

When the tears fill our eyes, we carry on and let them water our trust. 

When anxiety consumes us, we move our quivering limbs step by step. 

To trust in Christ is to show our Lord how much we love Him.

To trust is to acknowledge that Christ is the Truth.

It is that simple.

Trust is a prayer which the world can witness daily.

It is cracking the egg from the inside only to witness the beauty of a new life.

It is time we crack the shell of control and become saints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are His

If you look back on your day, how much of it was consumed with negative thinking? Not just about the circumstances of the day, but of yourself?

If you are like me, a lot of it.

It is almost as though I was a fish at the bottom of a lake. As I swam about my day, the more I moved my fins the more murky water would rise up.

All of the concerns (lets call them the roots), go back to the trunk of the tree (fear).

Common fears are:

It’s my fault. I’m to blame. Why am I this way. Where are my headed. Is this right? Will I fail? Why did I mess up again. Why am I so weak. I am lost. I will forever feel like this.

Then the dwelling starts. A cycle of tasting more fears until eventually you are filled with them. And what happens when you eat something? It starts to be what you are composed of. If you eat healthy your body becomes healthy. If you eat junk, your body starts to not feel the best.

So, what was I doing? What are you doing? Consuming fear daily.

For the longest time, I wondered why I was so confused. Some days I would just struggle to see the world clearly. The truth was the road hidden behind the foggy windshield.

That is when I knew I needed to change.

So I started making declarations.

I once talked to a priest in confession. He told me I needed to start looking in the mirror and reminding myself “God loves me and I am lovable.” He told me I could stop when I believed it.

That is one declaration. Something I know is true regardless of my mind or feelings which are telling me otherwise.

Here are some declarations you may want to use:

I am loved by God.

I am a child of God Almighty.

I am filled with the Holy Spirit.

I am watched over by the Blessed Mother, the Angels, and the Saints.

I believe in the Gospel.

One day I will embrace Christ.

I am a Knight of Christ.

I am a warrior for His Kingdom.

I will courageously do Christ’s will. 

Friends, it’s all about changing what we consume. Over time by declaring and following through with your statements, you will experience change. Fear will scatter.

C.S. Lewis has a famous quote,

“My prayer is that when I die, all of hell rejoices because I am out of the fight.”

So fight. Fight against fear by declaring the truth.

Because everyday you might not have the power over your feelings.

You might get lost in the ups and the downs.

But in the end, you are in charge of the will.

The will to do His will.

The Fear Paradox

Fear has been on my mind a lot the last couple of weeks. I’ve been reflecting on how much of my life is not “lived” because I am afraid. The interesting thing about fear is that we may not even notice when we are being fearful. It has us chained and yet we do not even realize that our hands are tied and our feet are bound.

I don’t like that idea and I am sure you don’t either.

What gets me a little bit more worked up is the very fact that fear is not of God.

Constantly in the Bible and by the words of really wise spiritual leaders that fear is in fact from the devil. Fear is preventing us from doing the will of God. It is the devils greatest tool. How many times are we told to “be not afraid.”

We are told constantly.

Of course we are human. We are subject to fearful emotions, battles of the day, pain and misfortune. However, is there a choice to be afraid?

While reflecting on fear I thought of St.Mother Teresa’s quote,

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

 

What about the paradox of fear?

By fearing loneliness, many of us hide away creating our own prison cells.

By fearing hurting others, we avoid those we love and hurt them by mere omission.

By fearing failure in our classes, we are paralyzed and do not study, leading to failure.

The evil in this world is using fear to cause us to create our own downfall. The demons cannot harm us. The devil has no power over us. However, evil is constantly seeking to manipulate our free will. Evil is doing everything it can do to cause us to destroy ourselves.

You will feel afraid. 

Just like Daniel in the lions den.

I am sure the lions did not just leave him alone down there.

I’m sure they still growled, still showed off their shiny teeth.

I’m sure they walked around him and sniffed him pushy him back with their noses.

But through it all, Daniel trusted in God and waited.

I encourage you all today to stare fear in the face. Allow it to growl and shout at you. Let it whisper lies into your ears. Allow it to show you the doom.

And in the midst of it all….puff out your chest.

Smile.

Rise up.

The Lord is here. He is ever present. You are His child.

Be not afraid.

Walk upon the water during the storm, keeping your eyes ALWAYS fixed on him.

 

 

***Thank you all for your constant support. If you want to get notified when I post be sure to follow this blog 🙂

Here is the truth.

Lately, I’ve been praying.

A pretty simple prayer.

“God, allow me to see the truth of who I am. Help me see myself the way You see me.”

Some people may never pray this prayer.

They may fully grasp they are a child of the One True King. They may understand that God died for them. They may see the beauty before they see their scars.

I am not one of those people. I lived in the illusion that I was for a long time. I didn’t see myself in the light of His eyes. I was persuaded by fears and failures to view myself through a clouded lens.

Today, specifically, God answered this prayer. For a moment, though brief, I believe I saw myself as He sees me.

I was sitting on the airport floor. It was in New York. The terminal was hot. There were people everywhere. My blood sugar was for sure low. I felt consumed by anxiety. I felt overwhelmed. I felt drained of everything.

Then out of nowhere came this probably 1.5 year old child. The kid wobbled through all these people. She looked at me and stopped dead in her tracks. All of a sudden her eyes lit up. She smiled from ear to ear and giggled. Time froze for a second for me. In that moment I knew that is exactly how my God views me. Just as that child saw me.

Friends, you may see your faults before your successes. You may feel lost at sea every single day. You may feel overwhelmed and consumed by your negative self talk, anxiety, depression, fears, etc. I encourage you to pray this simple prayer. Allow your current vision of yourself fade. Soon He will send you moments where, even if only for a second, you will see the truth of who you are.

Are you afraid, or are you playing it safe?

Have you ever reflected on a hesitation?

Have you ever asked yourself, am I afraid or am I just playing it safe?

I think about this question on the daily. So tonight, I wrote a poem about the difference.

Here is a little poem that will be included in my book (going to self-publish it soon be on the lookout).

31369239_989691471208860_7766137216491724124_n.jpg

Check out my Instagram for more: @n.j.bellacicco

To me this is precisely the difference. Safety involves legitimate concerns. For one to not hold their breath while underwater is just crazy. It does not make any sense. However, sometimes as humans we get carried away. We allow the safety to morph into irrational and frightening fears. Hence, when we are living our lives, fear pops up.

It is irrational for one to hold their breath in the shower; however, the feared mind thinks otherwise. Just like when you are underwater, in the shower you are soaked. In the shower the water is weighing you down.

Friends, today I encourage you to not hold your breath in the shower. I pray that you will reflect on all of your actions and spot the difference. 

 

She Held My Hand

Have you woken up in the morning and felt like you must have swam across the Atlantic in your sleep?

When your feet touch the floor, you catch yourself from falling over?

Your eyelids decide to stay partially closed and the shower does not help?

I felt exactly like this when I woke up today.

pexels-photo-262218.jpeg

Well, this morning I had Church at 8am.

My four hours of sleep wasn’t really cooperating with me.

But, thankful, I made it to Church and prayed for some energy to take part in the celebration of God’s awesomeness.

However, as the music played my eyelids became heavy. For the next 30 minutes I did everything in my power to fight it. My eyelids were bench pressing air and not successfully. Since I go to school far away from home, I usually am in Church alone. Therefore, I didn’t have one of my siblings or parents to give me the oh so gentle nudge with their elbow.

I was zoning in and out of during the Scripture readings.

I heard the priests homily and probably dozed off for a few seconds in between sentences.

I was not only tired, but extremely anxious.

pexels-photo-568027.jpeg

I had a restlessness embedded in my limbs.

I had feelings of fear.

I had feelings of uncertainty.

I was being consumed with negative self-talk.

It eventually came time in the Mass for the Our Father prayer. 

In some Churches people may hold hands, especially families.

But between strangers, it is rare.

As the prayer begins I am still in my head. I am not present. I am restless. I am doubtful. I am uncertain. I am scared. I feel terrible. I feel alone.

All of a sudden, as I’m putting my cold hand into my sweatshirt sleeve, I feel something grab it.

I look up, and see a woman in her late 60s, sitting two seats away from me.

She had the most peaceful smile I have ever seen before.

It was as if a force knocked me over.

football-american-football-sport-ball-163229.jpeg

It was as if I was lost and found.

It was as if my heart began beating with a greater force.

The moment she grabbed my hand I felt the weight melt away. My eyelids were no longer heavy. I was filled with energy. I felt a lightening bolt of peace.

When the prayer came to the end, I noticed myself hesitating to let go of her hand.

I felt I belonged. I felt out of my own head. I felt freedom.

As I was praying before Communion, her action was really getting to me.

I start to tear up.

The small act of love this woman showed me today, gave me all I needed. She reached out to a man who was alone, and reminded him of how much he is loved. Grabbing my hand was not the comfortable thing to do.

She chose to be uncomfortable so I would be comfortable.  

This woman did not pay off all my students loans. She did not heal me of all my past hurt. Nor did she comfort me for hours with her words.

 

This morning gave me a lot of insight.

It reminded me that love is the energy. By receiving and giving love we are made new.

It reminded me of how many good people are out there.

It reminded me that being comfortable and a Christian doesn’t make much sense.

It reminded me that the smallest acts of love may make the greatest impact.

It reminded me that my neighbor is waiting for me. To hold his or her hand. To let them know I am here. To let them know that I care.

sunset-hands-love-woman.jpg

 

She held my hand.

And because of that act.

I witnessed the reckless love of God. 

 

 

 

 

God and the Dunk Tank

You are sitting in the dunk tank. Your feet are dangling above the cold water. You know it’s freezing because your pinky toe just grazed the water. A shiver runs down your spine. The so called mini diving board you are sitting on is unstable. You can hear the rusty hinge squeak as you squirm in your seat. You are restless. You start to ask yourself,

Why am I even here in the first place? 

But it is too late. All of a sudden WHAM. 

A ball soars and misses the target by an inch.

You know that the moment that target is hit you are flopping into Arctic.

BAM.

Another one. You flinch a little bit but you are safe.

Seconds later, the hinge screams.

Your body crashes into the ice and your head dips underwater.

This dunk tank has one of those clear sides. The kind of dunk tank where the person throwing the ball can see you slam into the water.

Once you fall into the water, it starts to get murkier.

Underwater, you realize you did not see who was throwing the balls. Your eyes were focused on the water. The moment you open your eyes you see God.

 

________________________

 

As humans we are all born onto the ledge of some dunk tank. We are sitting on an unstable surface. We know at any minute our stability can be crushed. My goodness, it’s petrifying.

This stirs up a lot of questions in our hearts.

Like,

Why am I here?

      Where is my God?

      Why am I so afraid?

And then all of a sudden we are plunged into the water by a difficulty. We are dunked.

In this water, we become many things.

Frantic, frozen, and fearful.

The water is painful.

The water is suffering. 

The concept of human suffering in relation to God is a Rubik’s cube. In it rests many dimensions, by time and trial, we twist the puzzle and discern the truth.

 

I have a question for you?

 

In the story above how many of you assumed that God was throwing the balls at the target?

I am sure a lot of you.

And this is what we do.

We hold this view of our God as a coach that trains us to the point of breaking.

When you opened your eyes, you did in fact see God.

He was there for you.

To finish the story, when you see God you stare into His eyes.

You see Jesus Christ.

Who sat on that same dunk tank. The dunk tank of humanity.

In God you do not have a coach that pushes you to your breaking point, but rather a coach that has become a player.

Our God, watches us and reminds us…

Wherever we are He is our stability. 

When you fell into the water, it definitely became dirtier.

Chunks of mud began floating.

In the frantic movement of your limbs….

In the crying out….

In the dunking….

You were cleaned. 

The grime of disbelief began to dissolve. The mud of sin that had been caked onto your skin has become visible. The dirt weighing down your soul has been removed.

For in the cold water of the dunk tank—in the suffering’s of this life.

We are renewed and restored.

By a God who chose to join us on that unstable board, and continue to watch over us throughout all the falls.

All the daily dunks.

In this life the balls will fly from all over the place and hit the target.

All stability will be lost.

But in that moment of panic, is the moment of peace.

The cold water is not to be feared, but seen as a bath.

A bath that helps us see our own skin, recognize our dirtiness, and see Him.

When we are above the water.

We stare down in fear.

We lose sight of the goal.

But

Underwater, with no stability and immersed in fear, we open our eyes. Through the window of the dunk tank, we see the face of our God. 

 

5 Ways to Call Anxiety’s Bluff

Whether it be school related. Difficult situations at home. Job related. Or for no reason at all, anxiety plagues many of us. It flushes our quality of life down the toilet and sometimes makes it tough to get out of bed in the morning. But we can’t let it take hold of us. We need to remember that the cards are in our hands. We run this game.

Here are 5 ways to call anxiety’s bluff.

  1. Run Runnnnn Runnnnnnn

I could cite thousands of research articles on this but I will spare y’all. Exercise is everything. It is anxieties biggest nightmare. When we exercise our brains are taking baths in some pretty great hormones. We are refueling. We need to recharge with exercise everyday.

     2. Call someone

Call a friend. ASAP. Don’t let your anxiety paralyze you. Hang out with a friend. Be present with someone. Anxiety is constantly trying to remind us that we are alone in this world. This statement is far from the truth. Call anxieties bluff by communicating with another.

     3. Dress Up

Dress up. Take a shower. Put on some of your best clothes. And go out somewhere. Get out of your house. Even if it is at a local coffee shop. The best way to beat anxiety is to not become a hamster in your own circling head. Our outer appearances does wonders in changing how we feel internally. Don’t forget to dress up your face. SMILE. Even if it hurts. I got more research to back that one up. Smiling changes everything.

   4. Do something creative

Call anxieties bluff by feeding the negative energy you may have into something creative. For me that usually involves writing. Try something. Whether that be going outside to take some cool pictures or writing a letter to your friend. Channel the negative energy into a positive masterpiece.

 5. Get it Done

Do what you need to do in this present moment. Need to work on a project? Get it done. Need to study for that test? Get it done. Need to pay some bills? Get it done. Don’t let anxiety tell you that you can’t do something. Nothing in life is difficult if you change your mindset.

 

Anxiety thinks it has the upper hand in life. Remember to take a breath and recenter yourself on the present. Laugh in the face of anxiety.  Call the bluff.

You got this.

This is your life.

And my goodness.

You are doing a great job.

Keep it up.

 

 

Throw Me in the Furnace 

I’m struggling with something. 

And to be honest I never thought I was. 

In today’s society being a male comes with a lot of expectations. 

One of which is never being afraid. I have told myself my whole life that I am invincible, but deep down I know that is not the case. 

I was given a wake up call. Quite literally, the last few weeks. 

For about two weeks now, I have had numerous nightmares a night. Sometimes waking up in cold sweats. Sometimes trying to catch my breath. Sometimes immediately calling people I care about to calm me down. While I do hate nightmares, I am grateful because they have reminded me that I am not okay. My subconscious mind is restless and the dirtiness is rising to the surface. 

So what should I do now? Pray for courage. 

In Daniel 3 we see three men going against the King’s orders of worshipping the idol. They tell the King that if they are thrown in the furnace so be it. This is a Bible story that has always stuck with me since I was young. I think it has to do with the boldness. The ultimate trust. The three men’s ability to speak from their hearts. 

I think the coolest part of this whole story is not when the men say that God will save them, but rather that they will still love and serve the Lord even if He does not. 

Mic drop* 

How rad is that? They are so accepting of God’s will that courage naturally follows. They don’t have to ask for courage. It is right there waiting. 

I want me some of that. 

For courage to flow so easily from my mouth and my deeds. 

This isn’t to say I have no courage. I believe there have been moments in my life when I did not know where the courage came from. When I acted so quickly and without thought to do what is right. The point is I want that in every moment of my life. In order for that to happen courage needs to become a habit. 

This habit begins and ends with our relationship with the Lord. 

That was the part I was missing. I thought courage came from myself. Society has told me that all along. 

If you want to be courageous.

You need to be tough. 

You need to look fiere. 

You need to be physically strong. 

Friends, today I remind you that courage is a gift from God. A gift that only comes from our relationship with Him. 

Today I am asking God for courage to live my life according to His will. To not care what the people of the world tell me to do, say, or think. 

But to say back, “Throw me in the furnace. I am not afraid, for Christ is always with me.”

I Dare You to Sprint

On Good Friday of this year I saw something magnificent. 

During the Catholic Good Friday ceremony there is something done called the veneration of the cross. Basically, everyone in the pews goes up and kisses the feet of Christ on the cross. It represents our thankfulness to the Savior of the world. Through this act of kissing Christ feet we remind ourselves that  He is our King. A King of love and mercy. 

I remember sitting in the pew and watching a little boy run past the line of people. He was about 4. He was smiling from ear to ear. He cut off the few people that were to go next and kissed Christ’s feet. He ran back to his parents. A few minutes later he was back up to near the altar. This time he was with his parents. Again, he was filled with joy and kissed the feet of Christ on the wooden crucifix.  

I think about this story often. Hence why I am writing about it even though Good Friday was months ago. 

Christ tells us in the Bible we need to be like children in order to enter the Kingdom. Yet I didn’t know what this looked like. 

A few things about this situation puzzled me in the moment. But now that I look back they hold awesome truths. 

His parents never seemed to stop him
Those who truly love us will not hold us back when we do anything to get closer to Christ. Even if it seems crazy. If our parents, friends, or mentors hold us back do they really want our best interest at heart? Find the people that let you run towards Christ. Find the people that run with you. Even if you seem crazy. 

He did not care that he cut the line

This little boy had no cares at all. His eyes were focused on Christ. Anyone in his way he dodged. He didn’t care about the stares. He didn’t care about the talking behind his back. It was just him and God. The joy he had was his fuel. Let the joy of Christ fill you and help you to not be afraid. Let it remind you not to take care about what others think. All that matters is what Christ thinks of you. 

He did not walk but ran to the cross.

When I tell you this kid ran, I mean this kid RAN. He was not strolling. He pursued God with all his might. Run to Christ and never look back. Never waste a minute. 

He came back a second time. 

The first time was not good enough for this kid. He wanted more. He needed more of Christ. Remember that Christ is not a one time deal. The journey of life requires that we continuously go back to Him. Though life has its ups and downs Christ will always be there. Go back to Christ every day. 

Take a deep breath. 

Tie your sneakers. 

Forget about the people in the crowd. 

And sprint. 

Towards Christ.

As fast as you possibly can.