Roxane Salonen shares her takeaways on trust gained through her pro-life ministry efforts on the sidewalk of her state’s only abortion facility.
“Lord … even in times of great trial and battle when the enemy is winning, we declare our trust in you.” (Fr. Mike Schmitz, Day 133 of the Bible in a Year Podcast—based on Psalm 3)
Every year, at the start of the year, I choose a word to guide and define the year ahead. My word this year, “presence,” is a good one, no doubt, but so many times I have felt that a more fitting word would have been “trust,” for that is the word poking out of every corner of my heart in 2022.
For Lent, I clung to the beautiful book, Jesus I Trust in You: A 30-Day Retreat with the Litany of Trust, and it was so rich and good that I have repeated it in these after-Lent Easter days, and even gifted it to others. I have learned so much from Sr. Faustina Maria Pia’s reflections.
But I’ve also learned a lot about this powerful word, “trust,” in being a sidewalk advocate through the years in front of our state’s only abortion facility on Wednesdays, the days abortions are performed here in my city of Fargo, N.D. What began as a desire to put my words into action after a March for Life trip with my daughter and a friend has become a regular ministry that has taught me so much about God and trust.
What have I learned?
To trust in the invisible workings of God.
Some Wednesdays, it might seem as though our presence on the sidewalk advocating for life-giving options is futile. Certainly, when we are being cursed at by passersby flipping the bird or shouting obscenities, we might question if this is the hill we’re willing to “die” on; if it’s worth our valuable time only to be spat on. But in these moments of doubt, I’ve had to remind myself, over and over, that something is happening—something extremely valuable. Even if our efforts seem pointless, they aren’t pointless to God. He sees our sacrifices, and our hearts, and someday, we will see those fruits visibly. For now, we must trust in the unseen actions of God in response to our efforts.
To trust in the planting of seeds.
Additionally, we might say or do things on the sidewalk that seem to go nowhere, or even more, fall to blind eyes and deaf ears. So why waste our breath? Why show up with our brochures and good intentions if we will only get mocked and belittled in public? The truth is, we don’t know what our prayers and promptings will do in the long run. We don’t know how the little seeds we plant—whether through words or actions, whether into the hearts of the abortion escorts, clients or passersby—could take root. All we can do is lay them there on the sidewalk, before the Lord, and allow him to water them, and the free will of the souls we meet to take it from there.
To trust in God’s promises.
God has promised that he would be with his friends to the end. At the conclusion of Matthew 28, Jesus says to his doubting disciples, whom he’s just sent out to preach the Good News to the ends of the earth, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” That is a powerful promise. Do we believe it? Do we believe the God who created us, and sent his Son to teach us his ways, would remain near us, not abandoning us for even a moment as we carry out his orders of love? If so, then we must trust, no matter what it might feel like to do so, and believe he is the best keeper of promises in all the world.
To trust without expecting we’ll see the result.
This could be the hardest one of all for me. I am an experiential kind of person. I like to rejoice in good things and be present to do so! But I have learned through my time on the sidewalk that I may never get to the see the result of any meager efforts to help transform the world and hearts. It could be that the most powerful victory I helped bring about will never be known to me. Maybe the person who decided against an abortion didn’t even step foot on the sidewalk, but, seeing us praying there, decided to take a detour and drive away, forever. I have held children I have played a part in saving from certain death, but there may be others I’ll never see—not this side of heaven anyway. Yet, I must trust, and even rejoice, knowing that by putting myself on the line for Jesus, there will be victories, even though I may never get to personally experience them. They are happening even so, and someday, the party will be more glorious than imaginable.
All of these lessons I’ve learned about trust on the sidewalk have not only been applicable to Wednesdays, but when I leave there each week, applicable to my everyday life. They have become golden nuggets in my hands and heart. And I need them often because trust is not a one-and-done kind of thing. God gives us so many situations and opportunities to learn about this big little word, “trust.” We are never done with the task of improving on infusing this word more firmly into our souls.
Recently, God gave me even more reason to trust, when shortly after I’d arrived on the sidewalk, I was assaulted: punched in the head. I suffered a minor concussion, and have been healing from pain in my jaw and temple since then. Never before has the sidewalk turned violent in a palpable way for me as on this day, and I am still processing what God wants me to take from this incident. But I know He allowed it for a reason, and so I am trusting that He will show me the good that can come from it, despite the trauma that resulted.
And so I pray: “Jesus, I do trust in You. Help me to never falter for more than a moment in this important action of the will and heart.”
Q4U: What have you learned about trust recently? In what ways do you struggle with this word?
Copyright 2022 Roxane Salonen
About the Author
Roxane B. Salonen, a wife and mother of five from Fargo, North Dakota, is an award-winning children’s author and freelance writer, Catholic radio host, and speaker. Roxane co-authored several spiritual works, including “What Would Monica Do?” (Ascension Press, September 2022) and writes a regular diocesan column, “Sidewalk Stories,” about her encounters at an abortion facility near her city. Her work can be found at RoxaneSalonen.com