I’ve been thinking a lot about this for months. Months. I’ve wondered what is the best platform to share my story. I’ve debated, but I think it could be more effective and probably better expressed here. At least edited.
A few years ago, the boys were in Catholic school. I do miss many things about it. I wish they could have attended for longer, but that is another story. The year they were there was chosen by the Pope as a “Year of Faith.” We held a special mass to commemorate it at the beginning of the year, and discussed ways it would be addressed throughout the school year. I’ve gone back to that experience many times as 2015 was coming to a close, and again now in 2016 while trying to choose a direction with personal resolutions and goals. I’d like to make this year, and every year, one of increased Faith.
My patriarchal blessing pointed out that I was blessed with the gift of faith in my life; that I “believe easily on the words of others.” That has been interesting to think about. I have been known to be a bit gullible. Once a friend told me he was as tall as my husband, and I believed him, knowing full well that he was NOT. But I don’t think that’s what believing easily really means. Consequently, I consider myself quite a skeptic. I never believe what the dentist tells me. I have a hard time following medical advice given by my doctors. I don’t think they know everything, even though they come off that way. I don’t believe the meteorologist. I scoff at the media. And I certainly don’t take all the motherly advice that comes my way, even and maybe especially, from my own mother, even when hindsight proves I should have done otherwise. In fact, I generally think many people are full of crap. Sorry, it’s true.
You see, I’ve got a lot of work to do in the humility and Christlike love departments.
Back to Faith. In the Bible, Paul taught that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is believing in things unseen or unknown. And where much is given, much is required. This is what my story is about. Now for the throwback:
There I was. A young girl, only 20. I was about to make the biggest decision of my life. I knew it was überimportant and a really big deal. I knew it would change the course of my entire life. I was about to get married. I was about to commit myself for eternity and I still wasn’t 100% sure I was doing the right thing. Literally, there I was, kneeling across the alter, and I didn’t know. Months earlier I had weighed all the pros and cons. I had considered the benefits, the sacrifices, the consequences. I had confidence in my decision making process. I thought I was pretty level headed and logical and he was a smart, kind, considerate hunk-of-a-guy who was worthy. It all made sense. In my mind it all seemed right. And I knew I was stubborn enough to make anything work, through sheer determination and will on my part. He had asked, and I had agreed, but in my heart, I still yearned to KNOW if God thought he was the one meant for me. Let me tell you, that’s nothing short of a terrifying feeling to have on your wedding day at that particular moment. I’m sure most brides aren’t really preoccupied with that thought, but I was. It was all consuming. That day I was so nervous and only nanoseconds from exploding in tears at any moment.
And it’s not that I didn’t try to find out before that instant across from him at the alter. Waiting until then would have been foolishness. For weeks I had prayed. I had fasted. I poured out my entire soul to God to get an answer, but none came. No warm fuzzy feeling. No tingling. No burning in the bosom. No feelings of peace that I had had when I had prayed and fasted to know about a thousand things before. He told me he knew I was the one for him. How come I couldn’t know he was the one for me? Nonetheless, I had agreed to marry this guy and we went forward with wedding plans, me relying on his assurances and my own adrenaline to get through all the groundwork. Was I believing on his words too easily? Self doubt crept into my mind. I was seeking some assurance. It all culminated into this moment. Me wondering why God had not yet made this known to me as I was staring across the alter. God had revealed truths to me before, guided me to do things, or to not do them, brought clarity to my mind, peace to my heart. Now I felt like I was about to jump off the world’s tallest bridge into oblivion. I was determined to jump regardless. I just wanted to know if it was the right bridge. (***Disclaimer…I am not in any way insinuating that marriage is a jump into oblivion.)
Each of us faces major decisions in life: What to study, where to live, which school to go to, what job to take, kids to have, house to buy, what church to attend etc.. Sometimes we go it alone and make our best judgments on facts or feelings. Sometimes we consult others, friends or family, palm readers, books, or, help us, the internet. Sometimes we just do whatever the heck we want. Sometimes we are spot on. Other times we get wrecked, learn what we can and move on wiser.
As we navigate through life, each of us is entitled to know if we are making correct decisions, if our path is pleasing to God. Sometimes we can judge on our own. God has given us a all a conscience and the light of Christ since birth. We get a feeling inside our gut that tells us we are doing what is right. Sometimes we don’t want to know and follow our own ideas. I knew that I couldn’t afford to make a mistake with this marriage. It couldn’t just be my idea. The potential wounds of a mistake would be too great for me to successfully overcome. I had to get this one right. I had already had to make a lot of changes to get me where I was. My gift of faith had carried me thus far. I figured that if God did not want this marriage to happen, He would have put a stop to it, and He hadn’t. The apostle James taught that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). I thought I had done all my work. I had found a great guy, and planned a wedding, and made it all the way to the temple. I had fasted and prayed. But that day the absence of any impediment to our union along the way was not calming to me. I was feeling desperate.
What I learned that day is that my work was not yet done. I had not shown enough faith. More was required. Sometimes I think God wants us to make that figurative jump, take a step into the scary dark and the unseen, before we get our answers. A real leap of faith, not just easy baby steps. Like the widow of Zarephath who gave her last cruse of oil and handful of meal to Elijah the prophet, not knowing if she would live afterwards, I needed to offer my all, step into the dark, the unknown. Up to that point, everything had been in my comfort zone. I hadn’t really tried my faith, beyond my patience. So, that’s what I did. I jumped off that bridge. And as soon as I did, as soon as the sealer finished, the windows of heaven were opened to me. I felt an immediate and overwhelming peace and assurance that God was pleased with my decision. I chose to jump off the right bridge. I was so relieved. Can you imagine trying to take wedding photographs with a thing like that hanging over?
It’s been over 16 years since that day. Every time I have a tough decision to make, (or times when I think my husband is a jerk), I think back on that day. I remember that God does answer prayers, even if it’s not in the way or at the time I want. I remember we are together for a reason and it’s bigger than both of us. God wants us to be together. Truth is unchangeable. It was right then, it’s still right now, and it will be right in the future. Though I usually get some sort of inkling on big decisions long before I reach that point of no return, it is not uncommon for my gift of faith to be pushed to the max. I now realize that I’ve been stewing over this for months because as I write this, I find myself again looking over the edge of another bridge, a big decision, wondering if I should jump. In my mind I already know what I should do, but it’s so scary! I have to go all in. I guess I’ll have to leap before I find the assurance and peace I know awaits. Geronimo, I’m ready.