A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 02-22-24

A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 02-22-24

A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 02-22-24 1200 1200 SVDP USA

God Answers

Imagine a young woman, 18 years of age, alone in solitude after her husband departs for work. She places her infant daughter down to sleep. A nudging from within prompts her to go and look upon her daughter, and she is obedient. She notices her firstborn turning blue. To the touch, she is cold. Breathing is absent. Immediately, she wraps her in blankets, sits in front of a space heater and begins to pray. Eventually she notices the blue fade, feels warm flesh, and hears her daughter cry for nourishment.

Imagine a call placed to a 43-year-old woman by her sister in the middle of the night to inform that their womb bearer had been in an accident, and death was believed to be imminent.

The words my mother spoke to God at 18 are not known to me, because she did not share them. I only know that she prayed for God to alter the circumstance, and He answered. I was embarking upon adulthood when my mother shared the experience. At the time of her sharing, I did not fathom sitting in the Intensive Care Unit of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, praying to God to deliver the same answer He gave my mother, and I don’t believe she fathomed me doing it. God answered me — but I did not receive the same answer.

There is a natural tendency to pray and ask God to alter circumstances. If the circumstances are not altered, there is an urge to state that the prayer was not answered. Indeed, I have often heard people say when the hindsight lens is in view, “I am glad God did not answer my prayer.” In truth, God answers all prayers. Consider the words of the Psalmist: “But God did hear and listened to my voice in prayer. Blessed be God who did not reject my prayer and refuse His mercy.” (Psalm 66:19 – 20.)

God need not alter the circumstances we pray about to answer. God’s answer to prayer could be changing us by allowing the circumstance to remain present. An even greater answer is the one which changes your relationship with Him.

Instead of giving me the answer He gave my mother, God chose to change my relationship with Him.

The mission of our society is: “A network of friends, inspired by Gospel values, growing in holiness and building a more just world through personal relations with and service to people in need.”

I was unaware of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at the time of my mother’s death, but building a more just world through personal service to people in need was not a challenge for me. As a child, I watched and learned from my mother, great-great aunt, those residing in Shelby, Mississippi, and the Oblate Sisters of Providence who came to serve St. Gabriel’s Catholic School in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Serving and giving to those in need was innate for me. It is innate for most Vincentians who accept the calling.

My challenge was intimacy with God. Is it a challenge for you? Growing in holiness is synonymous with intimacy with God. In my spirit, I knew that my mother’s earthly journey had come to an end before I offered the prayer. I offered the prayer because I had no desire to experience the inevitable sorrow. As a result of God’s decision to call me into holiness, I learned that the prayer offered by me was about my natural will. It did not consider God’s will, which is rooted in holiness. Jesus was cognizant of His natural will, but was governed by holiness when He said “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me, still not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22: 42)

The Vincentian vision of a more just world is dependent upon our intimacy with God. So, let’s begin to pursue intimacy with God.

Carrie Johnson-Robinson
National Council Secretary

  • Thank you for your beautiful sharing! Yes! He is changing us.

  • You touched my heart with your story and undying faith. Thank you for sharing the message.

  • A beautifully written reflection, Carrie, that speaks so personally to all of us this Lent. We are so blessed to benefit from the spiritual insights of our fellow Vincentians!

  • Such a beautiful and inspiring reflection. Thank you, Carrie, for ALL that you do for others, you are a special blessing to St. Vincent de Paul.

  • Womb Bearer ? Mother ?

    • Lucinda Kanczuzewski February 23, 2024 at 8:27 am

      So might we call the Blessed Mother the Blessed Womb Bearer now?

      • Carrie Johnson-Robinson February 23, 2024 at 8:31 pm

        Good evening: There was not any intent to diminish the role of any mother and certainly not mine. Mothers do bear us in the womb. I heard someone else use the reference in a loving way and took poetic license. If the reference offended you, I am truly sorry.

    • I was wondering the same thing. While the main message is a beautiful one, it does seem belittling to women to be called “womb bearers”. It is a beautiful gift from God to feel the little person growing in your womb. It is a soul God has given you to take care of and nourish. And a great responsibility that many women today take lightly or even put an end to. I think we should honor the women that God chooses to bear children, not belittle them.

      • Carrie Johnson-Robinson February 23, 2024 at 8:41 pm

        Good evening Sandra: Thank you. There was not an intent to any woman and certainly not my mother . I heard someone else use the term lovingly and decided to take poetic license. I was born from my mothers womb and when I used the reference I was thinking of that connection I had in her womb. I am sorry that the reference offended. So, please forgive because I knew not.

    • Carrie Johnson-Robinson February 23, 2024 at 8:17 pm

      Yes I was referencing my mother. I heard someone use the reference womb bearer and decided to take poetic license.

  • Peace, Connie

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful gift from God, about a relationship with God and others that we all open our hearts too. God is good and this is what we need to do is share more of us. Our feelings and gifts that he (God) has given us all just beautiful thank you and it was a pleasure, meeting you in Baltimore.

  • Your sharing is a blessing to us all. Thank you.

  • Carrie, thank you for your beautiful reflection and for sharing your faith journey with all of us in the St. Vincent de Paul family. You continue to be a shining light in our world, just as you were for your mother on that cold night many years ago.

    • Carrie Johnson-Robinson February 23, 2024 at 8:25 pm

      Thank you Shannon. I shared because I want my Vincentian friends to know the joy of having an intimate relationship with God.

  • What a beautiful story and a great lesson.
    Thank you for sharing!

  • Thank you for sharing your story. Yes, we often want OUR will to be done and not God’s. He always has a plan.

  • What a wonderful reflection, Carrie. Thanks so very much for sharing so deeply such a personal story. God bless you and the work that you do for all in need.

  • Thank you for reminding me to trust God always, especially when I am tempted to doubt His love for me

    • Carrie Johnson-Robinson February 23, 2024 at 8:54 pm

      Mary: Nothing can separate you from the love of God. You may have trials and tribulations in this world. Have courage because God has overcome the world. You don’t have to overcome the world. God already has. Read John 16:33 and have peace my Vincentian sister.

  • Mary Kathryn Stenzel February 23, 2024 at 9:13 am

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful reflection.
    Hearing from other members of the staff and Board members
    would be a welcome.

    • Carrie Johnson-Robinson February 23, 2024 at 9:05 pm

      Thank you Mary. Other board members have been asked to write a column. They may not be vulnerable like me and share a personal journey but I believe it will be inspired by God.

  • Wow, what an insightful reflection. Many thanks for sharing.

  • Thanks, dear Carrie. Your loving testimony continues to show me that Jesus never fails! He loves us. Oh, how He loves us! Come, Holy Spirit. Rain down the personal intimacy we all need with you. Amen! 🔆🕊🔆

  • Thank you Carrie. Like you, I answered the call to become a Vincentian after unanswered prayers for my beautiful wife – who went home to the Lord two years ago. She had talked about us joining our parish’s conference but during the pandemic it shut down. Once it restarted, I knew that she would want me to fulfill our promise. I am now the vice president of the conference and humbled by the way we try to touch lives of those that come to us for assistance. I am grateful that you shared your story.

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