Buckle Up & Get Ready for a Ride

Trust. I’ve been blessed to have been surrounded with the message of mercy and trust for most of my life. I’ve always had such a love for the image of Divine Mercy. At the age of 16, I helped my parents build a shrine to Divine Mercy facing a busy country road in Northwest, Texas, where they began to spread the message of trusting in Jesus. Jezu ufam tobie – Jesus, I trust in you.

This message touched my heart so profoundly that I wrote a song to Divine Mercy called “Come, Let His Mercy Flow.” Over the years, God has consistently called me to lean in and trust. 

I’d like to say that trusting has come easy to me, but…truth be told, it has often been a big struggle. Through miscarriage, financial struggles, fussy babies, living with in-laws for several years, and more financial struggles, there have been many days where the overwhelm was so intense that the last thing I was thinking about was surrender and trust.

Over the past twelve years alone, I’ve had moments of despair, moments of wondering if God was even real, and heart-wrenching moments wondering why my God, my Abba, would abandon me.

I remember going to church, kneeling down, and just saying, “Just don’t take me now. I”m not ready,” meaning I wasn’t prepared to start trusting again. My heart had been so hurt. I was so angry that I just wasn’t ready to let God back in. 

I love the way our God works, though. He is gentle and tenderly draws us back into His heart. He knows when to move, how to move, and how to unfold a new yearning from within.

“He calls out to dry bones, come alive, come alive.” I love these words that Lauren Daigle sings, taken from the book of Ezekiel.

Our Father breathed new life into very dry and tired bones. And as my heart opened and I began to welcome Him back in, He showed up in such beautiful and powerful ways–the lover of my soul, the one who relentlessly pursues. 

Again, I love how our God knows what we need to draw us into a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him. His timing is perfect. He knows when we need to be pursued, and He also knows when we need to be challenged.

This story is about God challenging, about God refining, about Him knowing the perfect timing to do it. Knowing when the challenge will not break us, but will intensify our love, our desire, and our need for Him.

I’ll never forget when it all began. I was driving home from daily Mass, praying, and asking God to guide my life and provide for our family.

We were struggling financially and had been for years. I had tried hard to build a business that just wasn’t continuing to grow and wasn’t sure what to do. So as I was driving down the curvy road that led to our home, it surprised me when I heard these words whispered clearly into my heart, “Buckle up and get ready for a ride.”

I remember feeling taken aback and thinking…wait…where did that come from? I recognized the voice right away, but the words just didn’t make sense.

When I got home, I shared what I had heard with my husband, Trent, and asked, “Does God talk this way to people? Could it really have been Him?”

At the time it had seemed so odd, but looking back at what has unfolded since, I’m in awe at the truth that was spoken into my heart as a phone call I received the next day began a wild, crazy ride that, to be perfectly honest with you, seems to have yet to subside. 

Pretty much everything has changed, but through it all, the message God has consistently spoken to us, over us, and within us has been–surrender, trust, my will–not yours.

michelle hillaert

It’s been three years since I heard those words in my heart. Since then, our family has been hit with change after change after change. From our basement flooding to losing $60,000 in a mortgage scam, to being betrayed in business by friends, to my husband’s father coming to live with our family, to taking a full-time job exactly one week before the pandemic hit and then homeschooling while working full time, to now saying good-bye to our son as he heads off to university in just a few days.

Pretty much everything has changed, but through it all, the message God has consistently spoken to us, over us, and within us has been–surrender, trust, my will–not yours.

It’s crazy what happens when we start to choose trust instead of panic when a crisis hits. The very first time this happened in my life was when I discovered we had lost the downpayment on our very first home after 18 years of marriage. 

My usual go-to has always been panic, cry, freak out some more, vent, start breathing again, and THEN begin to trust. But that year, God had put the scripture from when Mary went to visit Elizabeth on my heart, so that entire year, it was on replay, “Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s word to her would be fulfilled.”

I had begun to finally understand that His will for me would always be better than anything I might desire on my own because God–who is out of time–can see all, prepare all, and arrange all when we choose to surrender and trust. 

So that day, when my husband called me with the news, I had this weird sense of calm and just knew that God would take care of it. 

And yes, we cried. Yes, we asked why. And yes, we fought back, trying to find out how this could happen, asking the mortgage company and the bank. 

Through it all, though, as we kept choosing trust and choosing surrender, God showed up big time. The community, friends, and family came together, and we were still able to move into our very first home.

Skip a few months, and nine days before our new home flooded, we had started the “Surrender Novena,” choosing to just give everything over to God, choosing surrender. On the ninth day, we woke up in the morning to a wet floor. One of the kiddos had left the sink on in the middle of the night, it was clogged, and there was no overflow in the sink (We quickly learned the importance of having an overflow!). We walked down to the basement, and there was the ceiling of the basement, completely crashed onto the floor, which had about 3-4 inches of water covering it in some areas.

Trent and I just looked at each other, with these unbelievable yet quirky smiles on our faces and said, “Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything???” What could we do but laugh and just know that God had it covered?

We chose surrender and trust over panic. And again, God showed up. Since we had moved in, anytime some of us were in the basement, we would have an allergic reaction–throat swelling, mouth itching, and eyes watering. 

Due to the flood damage, we had to have the entire basement redone, and our home insurance covered the cost. When all was said and done, we no longer had allergic reactions while spending time in the basement.

Once I realized that, I thought…how clever our God is. He perfectly took care of everything. He took something not so good and turned it for the “good for those who love Him.”

That summer, while I was on a weekend away with my two oldest girls, God showed me in a very profound way what it means to let go and let God. 

To do this, He took that message that He spoke into my heart three years ago and literally brought it to life. I buckled up and took one heck of a ride.

I was out with my girls at Busch Gardens. My heart was heavy with this nagging sensation that I was supposed to walk away from a business I had built over the past 7 years. I didn’t know what to do, and I was frustrated and overwhelmed by it all. 

So as we were walking over to a massive roller coaster, I remember, heavy heart and all, just crying out to God, “What do you want me to do?!?!”

And again, as I heard on that drive home, I heard God clearly say, “Let go.”

We had just sat in the back car of the biggest and craziest roller coaster and had just literally buckled up.

I remember saying, “WHAT???” And again, clearly hearing God speak to my heart, “Let. GO!”

So as the car began to make its rickety way up to the top to prepare for the first big drop, I cautiously lifted my hands into the air.

Now, just to give you a little background, I LOVE crazy rides and anything that makes my heart race, but I’m also the girl who ALWAYS holds on to the chicken handle in the car when a crazy driver is at the wheel. So putting my hands up was a pretty big deal.

I remember the jerk at the top. I couldn’t see what was next, and I was sitting there with my hands firmly in the air. 

The next thing I knew, the rollercoaster took off, and there we were flying straight down for what seemed like a mile. 

My hands stayed in the air.

Then we begin to take an upside-down loop. 

My hands stayed in the air.

And as I kept my hands firmly in the air, I heard God speak again to my heart. “No matter how far you fall, no matter how crazy the ride, when you stay buckled into me, I will protect you. I will keep you on track, and I will guide you through it.”

I haven’t been the same sense. Anytime I start to waver in my trust, I remember that ride, and I cling to Him.

Sometimes, my trust isn’t so big. It’s simply in staring at the streaming video I watch from a beautiful adoration chapel in Poland while I’m working at my new job, and just asking Him, “WHAT are you doing??? Why am I here?” and then offering it all up, praying for the people I see in the video, and then returning to work.

I’ll be honest. There are days when I have this great conviction where I know I’m standing in God’s providence, His will, and His grace. Then there are other days where I struggle and think, “What am I doing here?”

I’ve learned to hit my knees on those days. To battle the voices of doubt. The voices of “not enough.” The voices of failure. I’ve learned to renounce it all as I turn my heart to Jesus through “Mama Mary.”

“Jesus, I trust in you.” “My Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.”

My friend, I hope to encourage you on your journey. It is my prayer that our amazing Father, our Abba, will draw you into a more beautiful and intimate relationship with Him. And that as we buckle up and step into that roller coaster of trust, we may discover His perfect will as we experience the drops, the twists and turns, and even the upside-downs of life. 

It is my prayer that our answer to Him will always be in conjunction with the heart of Mary and her beautiful fiat–”be it done unto me according to thy word.”

And as we let go, our God, who is out of time, will provide for us in the most amazing ways. 

He is GOOD. Jesu ufam tobie.

About Author

Michelle Hillaert brings more than 25 years of experience in roles relating to technology and communications to GIVEN. With an undergraduate degree in Communication Arts from Franciscan University of Steubenville, her portfolio includes emergency management, web, application and graphic design, marketing and social media management, podcasting, and online consulting. In her previous employment, Michelle played a major role in the development and improvement of internal systems as well as the development and expansion of the Quality Management System. She also managed processes and communication with stakeholders in major application builds of state-run programs. In addition to this work, Michelle has dedicated herself to helping women live their full potential as a doula, life and fitness coach, motivational speaker and author. Having four daughters, nine sisters, and having journeyed with many women over the years, Michelle has experienced first-hand how as women, we often hesitate to respond with our gifts because we don’t recognize that we are uniquely gifted and that the world – especially those we encounter on a daily basis – needs us to share these gifts. In light of this, she has a passion and proven capacity for flourishing young women in the Church through mentoring and leadership development. Michelle has found that transformation often happens in those quiet moments of prayer and reading the works of the saints, such as the “Dialogue” by St. Catherine of Siena and makes daily reading and continual growth an essential part of her day. Outside of work, Michelle has been married for over 23 years to her husband, Trent. They reside in Front Royal, Virginia and together have six children, 2 in college and four still at home, along with three dogs, a cat and 27 chickens. She is a soccer mom and singer who loves leading praise and worship. “It’s only when we truly know how unspeakably much we are loved by our Father and how He is constantly pursuing us – even in those moments when we’re running in the opposite direction – that we can come to understand that our identity lies in His love. With this knowledge, we are able to step out in confidence and as inspired by St. Pope John Paul II, live fearlessly.”

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