December 9, 2022

Pastoral Ministries / Nick Rivelli

Be childlike, ‘be still’ and continually put your trust in the Lord

Nick RivelliI don’t like appearing weak before others. Really, I simply don’t like being weak—period.

The fact of the matter, though, is that I am incredibly, frustratingly dependent on others. I do have agency in my life—I can exert myself in my work, in my relationships, and oftentimes do so for good.

I tend to heavily focus on that—my “self”—in my daily thoughts, prayers and interactions. Usually, my focus is on “what am I doing wrong.” Others, I understand, have the opposite problem—they accumulate many things, achievements, things “going right, or well,” all of which conceal (albeit momentarily) their weaknesses and insecurities.

From age 20 to my current age of 25, I have reflected on the concept of “growing up.” I was a seminarian for a while and greatly enjoyed the structure provided for me in that environment. It was peaceful, prayerful and secure. Now, in the “real world” (as some call it), anxieties and problems I once could brush aside or ignore have violently breached the surface of my life. I frequently find myself wondering, “Why is it like this? Am I, as a lay person, supposed to just resign myself to a more stressful life?”

The Lord has shown me that the way forward is counterintuitive: “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3). I want to fix all my wrongs, because doing so would make me feel “perfect,” and, consequently, safe.

The problem isn’t my desire to feel safe; rather, that I insist it comes on my terms. Psalm 131 reads, “I have set my soul in silence and in peace, as a weaned child in its mother’s arms.” An infant cannot have peace or safety on its own.

As a young adult, the idea that a child or a baby is the model for me to follow greatly offends my sensibilities. Yet constantly throughout the past few years, I have encountered this truth, that, “the Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still” (Ex 14:14).

When I set my soul “in silence and in peace,” when I let him fight for me, it is then that I experience peace—not when I frivolously attempt to order my life “as I would have it.”

Years of education, and even being in seminary, could not have taught me this. Yet I make Jesus’s words my own: “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and Earth, for though you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to the childlike” (Mt 11:25).

The only way forward to peace and true and lasting happiness is to trust God as babies trust and rely on their parents. This isn’t to say “be lazy” by any means. These words are given to us so that we might remember who God is, who we are and what our relationship with him really means.

We can accept the peace and direction that comes from our dependence, or we can continue to build card castles that can only stand for so long.

We must remember: we are not given only words. “Unto us a child is born, a son is given; upon his shoulder dominion rests” (Is 9:5).

Turn your eyes upon baby Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face, and the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.

(Nick Rivelli is the associate director of Young Adult and College Campus Ministry within the archdiocesan Secretariat for Pastoral Ministries. He can be reached at

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