“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing disturb you, let nothing disturb you,” I chanted in my head as I stepped out of the kitchen and into the garage to call my husband Rob with the news.
“It’s in both lungs,” I uttered when he answered his office phone.
“Okay,” he said, “I figured it was.” Rob guarded his heart by preparing for the worst outcome when it came to our son Zach’s bone cancer. “Are you doing okay?” he asked.
I tended to hope for the best – the chemo was working and scans would be clear, so it took me a little longer to steady myself when the bad news came — and came often during Zach’s battle. But I was getting better at it with each blow; I was learning to trust God instead of fearing the uncertain future that lay ahead.
“I’m good,” I replied. “God’s grace will get us through. It has so far.” There was a peace that came with the words.
Over the years of Zach’s battle with cancer I had learned that detachment, the spiritual exercise of letting go of the created in favor of the Creator — the finite in favor of the infinite, was essential in learning to trust God.
As physical beings, we easily become attached to things that bring us comfort like our homes, possessions, financial stability, relationships, time, and our reputation. While these are all good things, they become an obstacle to trusting God with our lives when they become the focus and the end goal in life. Our attachment to them blocks God’s grace from entering our hearts and transforming them.
I wanted to have a big family filled with healthy children. I liked having two boys and two girls who each brought their own secret sauce to our family and I looked forward to the day when each would grow into adults, make their mark on this world and have children of their own.
My greatest fear was to have a child die because I knew I didn’t have the strength to survive that kind of a loss and would end up broken.
Then Zach was diagnosed with a deadly bone cancer and I was forced to make a decision: I could choose to tighten my grip on how I thought my life should look and fall into despair when it was taken away, or I could choose to let go of my life and allow God’s grace to transform it into something completely different.
I chose to let go and every day since I wrestle with making that same decision over big and small things. What am I going to hold onto and get angry over when things don’t go my way? When I find myself getting tense, is it because I think I’m in control? What is it I’m afraid to lose? My reputation, how I look, financial stability, my time?
This poem, written by St. Teresa of Avila, a Spanish nun who lived in the 1500s, has become my mantra and was especially comforting in the last years of Zach’s life.
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
Turning our attachments over to God is almost always disturbing, frightening and heartbreaking. And it’s hard work that never ends. It means being content when a barking dog disrupts a quiet morning on the patio. It means letting go of an argument in favor of backing off and praying for humility and understanding. And it means trusting God to give the right words of comfort to share with your child when he tells you he’s afraid to die.
When we let go of our plans and make space for God’s grace to work, we can be certain that we will lack nothing.
St. Paul writes about this mystery in his letter to the Philippians.
…for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me. — Philippians 4:11b-13
Zach died just days after his eighteenth birthday. That wasn’t my plan for him or for myself. But God, through His grace, strengthened me and transformed Zach’s suffering into something beautiful that touched millions of lives across the globe.
I still hold on too tightly to things and plans that get in the way of God’s grace, but I’m still chanting those beautiful words, “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing disturb you, let nothing disturb you.” And every time God shows up and reveals to me that He alone suffices.
an Original Movie,
and the true story of Zach Sobiech begins streaming Oct. 16 only DisneyPlus.
Watch the Movie Trailer
Written for Faith.Full by Laura Sobiech, author of Clouds.
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We’re all learning to trust God a little more each day, right? Some experiences — like a loved one in the process of dying — cause us to leap a little further. But, detaching from this earth, even when it breaks our hearts, is what we are called to do since it is not our true home. Heaven is. “When we let go of our plans and make space for God’s grace to work, we can be certain that we will lack nothing.” Come share your thoughts on our blog. We want to hear from you. ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full