Have you ever heard a truly terrible story about something that happened to someone? Something almost unspeakable, it’s so bad. And just hearing about it makes you immediately cry and cringe and you wonder how human beings could hurt others like that? And do you ever wonder where God is in the middle of that horrifying story? And then the answer to that question–that He’s right there–makes you feel worse instead of better? Because He saw it and didn’t stop it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. And I’ve been thinking about the whole notion of being a “person of faith.” I know that that really just means you’re letting people know you’re a believer. I do that, too. I know that there are people with great faith. I’ve met lots of them. But you know, you never ever hear someone say that they’re a person of doubt. But half the time, I’m more a person of doubt than a person of faith. I struggle with my faith and with my God. And I think that there are people like me all throughout biblical history–who struggled with God and having faith. Maybe faith comes easy for some people–probably. But for me, the idea of faith–trusting what you can’t see–is hard. Because sometimes it’s trusting what He says even if it doesn’t feel true.
And that kind of faith is difficult to come by. People rationalize God’s promises against those terrible times and say that “you’re not interpreting that correctly,” or “He’s working in ways we’ll never understand,” or “things happen for a reason.” I’m not saying those things aren’t true; in some cases I’m sure they are.
What I am saying, is that it takes a lot of faith to believe it’s all true when there are times it doesn’t seem like it. Here’s where part of all this started for me: People were telling me that God would protect Ashtyn and take care of her and that I can trust Him to protect her and that He loves her more than I can understand.
Have you ever met someone whose child was kidnapped and sold into prostitution? Or someone whose child drowned in the ocean? These things happen to children of Christian parents. They do, it’s just true. Looking at circumstances like that–the protection and love promises aren’t always easy to trust.
I think that’s why I’m so fascinated by people like Mother Teresa–who see the most pain and suffering and still come out of that with great faith. To me, that’s amazing. Here’s a more modern example: Tyler Perry. If you ever read about his childhood you know that he grew up in a home with severe abuse. But He became a Christian and now His faith can be seen in everything He does. It’s real to him. He came out of the worse circumstances but still trusts God. That’s just inspiring.
For me to call myself a woman of faith sometimes feels like a misrepresentation. Because I’m a person who reaches for faith, prays for faith, and tries to choose faith even when it doesn’t feel like it makes a difference. And that sounds more like a woman whose faith is a work-in-progress to me, someone who struggles with moments of doubt but doesn’t want to give up. To say that I always believe God’s listening to my prayers, that I always believe He cares about even the small things, that I always believe that He’ll take care of me–well, that is most definitely a daily work-in-progress for me. But for me, that’s what faith feels like.
I’ve heard about and read about some truly terrible things. The kinds of things you almost wish you hadn’t heard about because you know you’ll never be able to forget. I think faith is trusting beyond that. Having trust in God, even when He let those things happen to other people (which means it could happen to you). Continuing to trust–that’s serious faith. And I feel so inspired when I see it–really see it in people.
When it comes down to it, I think faith is a choice. It has to be. My friend Michelle and I are best friends. We have been for most of our lives. We introduce each other to people that way. Even at our age! You know why? Because we claimed each other a long time ago. She’s my very best friend, even if we live miles apart. For my faith, I claimed Christ a long time ago. So no matter what, I’ve claimed Him as mine and chosen Christianity as my belief system. Those are about the only things I’m absolutely sure about. Even if none of it were true (which I know it is)–I still accept that Christ is the only Savior I’ve got.
I’ve read a lot of blogs about faith and Christianity lately (and they usually say the same things because people go through the same kinds of experiences). And just like those people, I want to write about my faith and share that with people. But at this place in my life, I also just want to be real with myself and real with others. I know myself–I know I struggle with doubt and unbelief and fear. Casting off those things isn’t something I did once and now I’m fine. It’s a process. So that’s where I am: in this process of faith that goes up and down. Here’s the one good thing: whether it’s up or down, it doesn’t go away. That’s at least something to build on.