I’m blaming my youngest daughter and the Snap she sent me earlier this morning. You see, she was at the gym with her sister and for some reason – the song “Let It Go” was blaring over the sound system. The accompanying statement/question she had was “Am I in hell?” It made me laugh because first of all – she isn’t really a girly girl type and the whole Disney princess thing just isn’t her –thing. Now if that princess carried a sword, threw flame balls or something powerful like that – then maybe. However, this isn’t a story about one of my beautiful daughters, but the idea that letting go is okay and necessary for us to be healthy. I think without that simple, yet difficult act, you can put yourself in a type of hell or torment.
I’ve been listening to various podcasts and the one today talked about what faith is and isn’t. What having trust is and isn’t. I like listening to things and try to apply them to my world and reconcile with my own experiences. They shared the idea that doubt is not a bad thing. There are chapters/books in the Bible that deal with this – Lamentations, the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Job. I’ve known people in my lifetime who do not like those books because they are negative or show a lack of faith on the part of the writer. Bull – after internalizing what I heard today, it’s the real life experiences of people struggling with their faith and having real doubt like we do. They are there for an example for us because there have been days I’ve wished to hide away and waste away. As in Psalms 102 –
Hear my prayer, Lord; let my cry for help come to you. 2 Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. 3 For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers. 4 My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. 5 In my distress, I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones.
I read this chapter almost daily back in the day I struggled with the Acanthamoeba that almost destroyed my eye 17 years ago. There were days I wanted to just curl up and die because the pain was so intense. Not many of my family realize that because I felt compelled to stay strong for them. Did I doubt in God? Well – honestly there were days I was really pissed. We had already gone through so much that year – I felt raw and exposed. But doubt — well –not in God because I had already experienced that “peace beyond understanding” aspect 6 months before when we lost 3 family members in a car wreck. That moment of overwhelming comfort enveloped me in the midst of the intense sorrow is something I’ll never forget. I want to be clear – it was not a comfort of “everything will be okay” – it was more a feeling of someone being there for me and not being alone. On the flipside, I experienced more doubt in a false faith and confirmation in what I felt was life-giving trust and faith.
We were pastors back then, and my eye disease became a hot topic at the altar, as did my “lack of faith”. I had so many well-meaning, yet misguided people, attack me saying things “it’s your fault you’re not healed because I prayed for you and spoke it into existence.” or “You must have a hidden sin problem – that’s why you’re not healed.” Those are just a few of the many, many accusations I dealt with in person. Who knows what was said out of my earshot in gossip meetings –oh sorry —prayer meetings. I still stand by the fact that trusting God to lead us in the direction to go with medical experts with this disease took a leap of faith. I had to trust in a doctor in Dallas, that I knew nothing about. I’d heard he was the renown expert in this disease, but I didn’t have experience with him –yet. So – I had – technically – faith in the unseen or unknown. My experience in dealing with the doctor, who was as good as the claims suggested, deepened my trust and faith in his ability to help me. Yet – dealing with the pain for that year and a half until the amoebas were annihilated required a huge amount of trust. There were many days I wondered why I had to go through this, Why was this now part of my narrative? I read a quote recently that said “I’ve learned to stop praying for the things you want and start praying that in the end, you survive whatever happens.” If I had known that quote then, it would have been taped on my mirror to reflect on because I needed to survive whatever happened. That is where the trust comes in. I had to hang on to something because I was facing blindness if the experimental medicine didn’t work. Well – thankfully it did and followed by a cornea transplant, I’m almost as good as new.
It’s because of that experience of doubt, faith, trust, etc., I can have the strength to face whatever happens now. I have to trust that I may not always like the outcome, but that’s where I need to let it go. There are so many circumstances that are beyond my control, but that story I shared about the eye disease is my touchstone moment. I’ve had several in my life, but that one is my moment of understanding to a degree what it means to trust. I don’t have an answer as to why I had to go through that. All I know is I made it through and if that realization from the experience was the only reason –then so be it. Today was a reaffirming of knowing in spite of the grief of the past year and the difficult situations – I need to pray more to survive whatever happens and trust in something much bigger than myself. I need to realize that my journey can be really difficult and fraught with events I’d love to have answers. Yet – I need to let go and accept that I won’t always get those answers. To be honest, I really don’t like that aspect, but it’s a form of trust to accept. Oh – I can still be mad about situations and cry out “why!!!!”, That isn’t lack of faith – that’s real life. It is realizing some of the difficult, heartbreaking situations we go through are a result of someone else exercising their free will not considering the old cause and effect reaction. We cannot control those moments, only the way we react. We are human. We make mistakes, We are real, We experience all kinds of crap. We question. We doubt. Do not let anyone tell you how to feel in the midst of those difficult days. Let go of those unrealistic expectations of HOW to handle it and pray to survive whatever happens because experience has taught me – you will survive.