The blog has been rather empty the past week or so. Life has seemed to have anaconda'd me into a tight grasp, and at the moment I don't see a way to freedom. This isn't to say that I am in any sort of depression or self-pity state, but just scared. On one hand, that trepidation has obstructed my desire to blog because I don't have anything inspiring or fun or beautiful to report on, but on the other hand that anxiety has been gnawing away at my soul, itching to release my emotions in words and validate what I'm feeling - to write everything out, to make a testament to what I do know and believe in this time of trial, but also to honestly acknowledge that I have questions. And I have questions about God.
God. I believe in Him. I trust in Him. I have faith in Him. I know that He knows me personally and loves me. I know that He has command of the universe and could move mountains if needed. I believe that He can change peoples circumstances. But do I believe He can change mine?... If you had asked me a year ago I would have said yes. But if you ask me today, I will say no. This shift in belief has caused me a great deal of reflection and at first I thought that my faith in Him must have changed, that somewhere along the way I lost what it meant to be "a believer." I now have come to the personal and peaceful conclusion that my faith in God has not changed, but my understanding of our relationship has. That might sound like the same thing in a way, but there's a difference to me.
Before having kids or marriage, I thought I knew God and Christ really well. I trusted in them to help me make decisions, and I always received sufficient guidance from the Spirit when making choices. I felt that God was always there, holding my hand like a parent does, making sure I was always safe. He felt close, but I think I relied on Him more like a genie in the sense that I thought he could always fix my problems. And most of the times the problems were fixed in teenage years just by following His commandments. The "easy" thing about trusting in God at that point was basically all choices I had to make were about morality, and it was pretty clear to me that being moral was always the higher road. Then I got married and turned into an adult, and realized choices were much harder. They were much more permanent and complex. They affected the livelihood of not just me anymore, but my spouse, and our future progeny. Job, education, insurance, money and savings, debt, investments. It's a lot of pressure. Jared and I have always prayed to God before making any major decision, and have received good confirmation on numerous occasions where we knew for sure that this was "God approved," and that is always reassuring. Well, more than reassuring to know that the One who controls all is giving His wisdom and ratification.
And then we became parents. Boy, if I thought I understood God previously, sheesh, was I wrong. Starting your own family is the most beautiful experience as heaven is ushered into your arms in the form of a new babe. The family is like a microcosm of what life everlasting must be like, and we as parents get to assume the similar earthly role as our Father in Heaven is to our spirits. Being a parent has really brought me closer to God in seeing the greater purpose for life, for commandments, for sin and repentance, for justice and mercy, for patience and love, for guidance and agency. God is more real to me now than ever before. And because of His new found reality to me, I look at life more practically now. Again, do I have faith that He can change circumstances? Yes. Do I have faith that He will change MY circumstances? No. And not that he can’t, but just that he won’t. And that’s not because he doesn’t love or care about me, but because, well, life is life. The way I feel about God is the same way I feel about my parents. I know my parents love me eternally, gave me everything, continue to support me and be my stronghold, are there to listen and console – and that’s enough love for me. That’s all I need. But can my parents change my circumstances? No. And I don’t blame them for it. God is my Eternal Father, and at this point I have to think of him in very realistic terms and that sometimes life just happens and He's just going to sit on the sidelines and not play an active role. I know he is there for me. And that is enough. The Gospel doesn’t teach that God will always answer our prayers, but that he will be our comforter.
Here's our deal. Our little family is treading water, waiting at first patiently but now frantically, for some financial stability. Jared and I are not sit-and-wait people, but we are very proactive. For the past year, we foresaw the possibility that we might be in the situation we are in, and have tried every avenue possible to bring better financial security to our family. Of course, we involved God in all of our decisions, praying and fasting and pleading for some guidance, and that all of our efforts for the past 2 years would be of benefit to us. We are not asking for a miracle, because to me a miracle would be asking for something that only God could do - some extraordinary event that would require supernatural aid - but I don't think we're asking for that. I think what we're asking for is not something out of the ordinary and it CAN be achieved by a human being, and in our case, we just want all of Jared's hard work to be rewarded. He has had several interviews in which we have fasted and prayed, but none have been granted our blessing yet. Which has caused me to re-evaluate prayer.
What is the purpose of prayer? I use it as a channel to communicate my gratitude mostly with God. I love prayer for that resource. But when it comes to asking for something, I feel like I've always been taught to ask but then end with "Thy will be done.".... Then, if I'm telling God I would like something, but go ahead and do what you want, God, then what is the point of asking? I'm not trying to be blasphemous, just curious. When you ask for others to pray for you, or you say to someone else that you will pray for them, what does that achieve? Does God say "ok, you got 5 people praying for you, but you need just 3 more before you get this blessing!" Or "hey, sorry, that guy got 10 prayers for the job from others but you only got 7, so..." I know it doesn't work like that, right? It's not a lobbying game. In addition to prayer, there is fasting. Jared and I, along with our families, have fasted for many months for our circumstance to change. Jared is in for the long haul when it comes to fasting and has always gone above and beyond what I think is healthy in the realm of abstaining from food, and twice now on the conclusion of our fast an opportunity has arisen that we thought there is no way this is chance, but it has to be divine providence. We dropped to our kneels and felt peace that for sure this was it. Finally, an answer to our prayers. And then, both times, no job was granted. Twice now. That feels like a major punch in the gut, and really really gets me down. I start to question who gave us that peace we felt? Who gave Jared the inspiration to apply for those jobs? Why did everything everything line up perfectly? Why did it seem like the heavens were opening for us, when nothing was granted? Was it all just chance? Really, chance?! Chance is that good, that deceiving?! The energy and hope we put into prayer and fasting is just exhausting.
I believe in God and I know He believes in me. I love God and I know He loves me. He has already given me happiness, a beautiful marriage and healthy children, purpose in this life, commandments in exchange for joy, promises of glory – really everything good has come from my belief in Him. Just right now I'm trying to keep my distance about relying too much on Him? That sounds bad and not coming out the way I want it to. I just don’t want to be so naïve to think that God will always be my rescuer and come through and save me right before I hit the ground like a super hero or something. Because sometimes life is life. I know God can change circumstances, but I don't think he will change ours. And that's ok. The following admonition is helping me get through my uncertainty:
"Hope on. Journey on. Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe."
-Jeffrey R. Holland