featured image

Megan Cottam gives thanks for those strong enough to walk through the trials of faith with honesty and vulnerability. 

Working in the Church, I am blessed with access to a great many holy souls. I have had passionate conversations with wisdom personified, stared into the eyes of the saints of tomorrow, and been trained by nationally published professors. I have hosted the “known” speakers on the circuit for meals and events and am thankful for the friendship of many dedicated clergy, religious, and lay ministers. 

But on the hardest days, who teaches me the most about God, faith, and hope? It is not someone well educated in theology, nor someone well practiced in devotions and prayer forms. It is not the folks who are “getting it right.” 

Rather, it is the family that I accompanied throughout the initiation process to the Church, who disappeared for the next four years, and has recently resurfaced at the parish again. 

It is the unwed mother, who chose life for her child, walked back into the church, and has been present every week since her child’s Baptism. 

It is the woman who sits alone, the one who has children who have never made it through a year of faith formation without a parent conference and intervention, and the one who does not match the traditional makeup of the daily Mass participant. Yet she still shows up. 




It is the divorced mother, who often chose her Sunday gym routine over Mass attendance but has all of a sudden popped up every now and then at Mass with her boys, always 5 minutes late, and always a bit disheveled, but still in search of faith a decade after our first meeting. 

It is the elderly man who manages to get his ailing wife to Mass each week. Sometimes she falls asleep throughout the entire service, sometimes she struggles to remember how to consume the Eucharist, but always they can be found holding hands throughout the liturgy. 

It is these souls who give me hope. I know the priest is going to show up for Mass. I know the person front row, center right, is going to come early and stay late for every liturgy. But there are so many community members who are struggling against the temptations and setbacks of the world and still choosing their faith each week. The Holy Spirit is moving, and their ongoing transformation reminds me of my constant need to grow in my own faith.




We gather in community each Sunday precisely because each member of the body of Christ has something to teach us. And each week, these parishioners teach me that God’s precious work takes time and is always in process. 


Ours is a God who waits. Who are we not to? It takes what it takes for the great turnaround. Wait for it” (Father Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion)


Scripture affirms this:

For the vision is a witness for the appointed time, a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. (Habakkuk 2:3)


Life can be heavy and complex in so many ways, and faith is a journey that takes stamina and patience. If you are that person who thinks you are slipping in at the last minute attempting to be invisible, know that your presence is witnessing something powerful to someone else.  




 And if you are afraid or embarrassed to return to your parish home, know that your absence is felt each Sunday, and someone is looking around the assembly longing for your return and praying for you and your particular story. They know which pew you used to sit in, they are wondering how old your children are now, and they are praying for the very best blessings for your life. You have not been forgotten, and your parish family is waiting for you in hope. 


Click to tweet:
Life can be heavy and complex in so many ways, and faith is a journey that takes stamina and patience. #CatholicMom


You, the person for whom faith may not come easy, or who feels insecure around a faith community gathered, you who doubts more than they believe but shows up anyway: It is you who are my role model. Thank you for your witness.  



Copyright 2023 Megan Cottam
Images: Copyright 2023 Holy Cross Family Ministries, all rights reserved.