“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1
The past year has been one trial after another. Through each up and down, I’ve sought after God for answers through which He’s spoken different truths into my life. I don’t like to use my blog as a public journal, however it is a portal through which I process these lessons and I find healing in that whatever I’m going through I know there’s at least one other person out there who can relate. My hope is that my ongoing journey to the Father will help propel others to His Kingdom.
Even so, with all the difficult times I’ve found myself in of late, I procrastinate sharing these hardships with you. I envision coming to a resolution and tying up the lessons I’ve learned along the way with a pretty red bow. The reality is, I haven’t encountered any pretty red bows thus far as I continue to trudge through the challenges in my life – the waiting, the depression, the uncertainty. They follow me around like Asia’s smog, preventing any true clarity from appearing through the cloud.
Then I remember Abraham and Sarah, David, Mary and Joseph, Peter and other faith-filled people from God’s Word. Even before God finished their stories, we could still learn from them in the midst of their conflict. So, by faith, I write my unfinished story void of the “happily ever after.” My life is far from a fairy tale, but rather a true representation of God working in me and shaping one of His children as she prepares to be part of His Kingdom upon the return of our Lord Jesus.
The Difficulty of Faith
This has been a tough year. My husband and I started a new business. I’ve been stretching myself between my non-profit job and trying to help my husband get the business off the ground. We’re extremely involved volunteering in our church with the middle school ministry. I’m grieving over being 32 (creeping up on 33) and childless. My anxiety and depression has frequently hovered near my all-time low. I’ve reached my breaking point this year more times than I can count, taking personal days from work because I just can’t cope, leaving my house a mess because I just don’t have it in me to do one more task at the end of the day, skipping church more than I’d like because I just can’t face the crowd. Just when I don’t think life couldn’t possibly present anymore challenges, it does.
Earlier this year, my boss presented me with some changes that would be happening within the organization. These changes greatly affected my job. I was left with the choice to increase my hours and totally reformat my role or reduce my hours and role significantly. I didn’t feel at peace with the increase in hours or the change in responsibility. I certainly didn’t feel like I could fulfill the long-term commitment they were hoping for due to our business and my dreams for a family. So, I turned it down. Then, the reduced hours turned into no hours. It seemed obvious that I should start looking for another job. However, the more my husband and I prayed about it, the more we felt led for me focus my skills in the marketing, customer service, and organization of our business, Marinelli Auto Service. We don’t have evidence to believe we’ll be able to bring home enough money to live off of at this early stage, but we realized that if we don’t try, we may never have another opportunity to bring the business to the next level.
I’ve had conflicting feelings about this change. Some days I feel a surge of faith and have confidence that this is what God has called me to, so He will surely provide for our needs. On those day I pray for Him to increase our customer base by 25%-50% over the next several months and I believe He will. Other days I am in a complete panic – what am I doing going into the new year without a paying job!!? My prayers fade from confidence to pleading.
This unending emotional loop is enough to make a person crazy…until I remember something I’ve been taught my whole Christian life – faith is not fueled by feelings, but by facts.
Faith as Fact, Not Feelings
Before now, it was hard to exemplify that truth with my life. Faith was just something a Christian does. I’ve been shamed (by myself and others) many times in the midst of my anxiety and depression for not having enough faith in God to turn my thoughts around. I’ve struggled to believe I’m not making it through my depression for lack of faith, and that it is only something I can change. Then, a close friend of mine pointed out that faith is a spiritual gift – not everyone has it but God has every power to give it if one were to need it. She pointed out that stepping down from my job to help with the family business is incredibly faithful, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to have constant peace over it every moment of every day.
Faith is hard. Some people are gifted with more of it than others. Faith is also not to be associated with how I feel about a certain situation, but with the facts. I’m constantly asking God to remind me of His Love and Faithfulness to me – both facts. He sent his Son to die for my transgressions and raised him to life to set me free from the stronghold of the angel of doubt, unbelief, and unfaithfulness – all facts.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14
“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” Psalm 31:24
Doubt is normal. Everyone experiences it. Abraham did and so did David, Peter, and many others. The facts are that God empowered each of these people with faith and they overcame. God’s plan was victorious despite human doubt. Some days doubt overwhelms me, but others, God’s Spirit brushes away the smog and wraps me in His peace and faithfulness, allowing me to endure another day.
I may not be able to put a pretty red bow around this period in my life for a very long time. Looking back, it’s always easier to see God’s plan with rose colored lenses, it’s looking forward that we need to hold tightly onto our red ribbons with the faith that one day we’ll be able to tie a neat little bow around the mess that brought us closer to Jesus.