God.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

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 na├»ve 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

I believe.

19 comments:

  1. love this post!!!! Sometimes you just have to have faith in having faith. xoxo

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  2. Just what I needed to hear today. You really spoke to some of the things I have been thinking about lately. Thank you for sharing these personal thoughts.

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  3. thanks for sharing this. you put your thoughts down in such a beautiful way. xox

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  4. Kendra, I have been reading your blog for awhile now however don't tend to comment. I couldn't not comment on this post however. First of all, your steadfast faith is so encouraging and I hope that, if I were in the same situation as you, that I could have the same faith as you. I wanted to encourage you though to not lose faith in God and his ability to provide. He has not forgotten you nor is he sitting on the sidelines and watching you. I don't know why some things happen however I do know that God can grow us through these situations. He is growing you and your family and your marriage in ways that money simply couldn't buy. Praying for you and your family right now.

    xx

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  5. This is a really excellent & honest post.

    We just went through a really tough year, counting pennies, letting big bills go longer then they should, just because we had to. If there's no money, there's no way to pay... for life. It costs money to live each day. It's a really really frustrating situation to be in and we found ourselves constantly saying, "When we get out of this place" and trying our hardest to "enjoy the everyday" but the fact is, money really does make the world go 'round, no matter what way you look at it, and so it was hard to put on a brave and shiny face when all you are doing is worrying on the inside.

    All I can say to you is, finally after months and months of struggling, and scraping by and avoiding social commitments, and saying to each other "it can't get worse" something broke, and someone, somewhere listened and through a series of unpredictable events a job opened up for us. This is the reason I felt compelled to share today - I seriously do think God helped to answer our prayers... but it was hard to know why we were put through the pain of it all in the first place.

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    1. Emily, thank you for taking the time to read through my troubles and tell me of yours. I am sorry to hear that you experienced this trial as well, but I am elated that you came out on top! Hooray! Thank you for sharing your experience with me.

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  6. Kendra, I've had some of these same questions. I like the Bible Dictionary's definition of prayer: "Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them."

    I think part of having faith is still continuing to ask for and trust that blessings will come. I know how tough that can be! It's always a treat to read your blog; your posts are always so heartfelt.

    xoxo
    Bay

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    1. Thanks Bay for sharing that from the BD. It is a wonderful reminder and comforting doctrine!

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  7. You are in a refiners fire right now. These situations are so hard when you're going through them. Keep on keeping the faith! You will look back on this time in your life with gratitude for the way you have been able to grow. We love you!

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! We always feel such love from your family :)

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  8. What an honest and humbling post to write. I know what it's like to go through tough times financially and not know if your prayers are being heard or what lessons are being taught through the struggle. Just know that you and your family are in my prayers and I truly believe that God has a great plan for your family. I know the wait is hard, but I have to believe that there is always good in the end.

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    1. Thank you so much! I appreciate your kind words.

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  9. Hang in there. When we moved to San Francisco I applied for probably a 100 jobs and then the only thing I secured was an internship which was a huge slap in the face. It eventually led to a great job but that was 6 months after we moved to SF -all while paying $2,000 a month in rent. It is just a hard job market.

    One thing that gave me peace was that even though my "big miracle" didn't get granted right away I kept seeing small acts of God in my life. Tons of them when I looked properly and was wise enough to know that these were not random acts or my imagination wishing things into small miracles.

    Jared's job will come. He's not going to be jobless forever -that's just a fact. And when he does land his job you may come to understand why you had to wait. Or you may not.

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    1. Thanks, Joc! Yeah, SF definitely wins for ridiculous rent prices :) But I am so happy that things came together for you. Already within this past week more possibilities have opened for us, which proves again to me that the doors of opportunity are never closed.

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  10. My heart is heavy for you, friend. I want to second what Samara said... don't lose faith. I hate to see you hurt and feeling like God won't change your circumstances. He can, and He will. In his time. Which is why it seems so impossible to understand. Because our time is not his time. We were incredibly scared when Ryan got out of the Army and didn't have a job lined up. But we trusted that God had led us and spoke to us about it being the right thing to do. We didn't lose faith, and Ryan ended up with a wonderful job. It doesn't mean that there won't be hard/harder times before that happens. But God DOES have a plan for you and your family, and He WILL see you through, even when he seems as far away as ever. XOXO

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  11. We've been in a similar situation for quite some time. I find that when I worry and fuss, nothing happens. When I let go, our needs are taken care of. Not always the way I want them to, but you can't always get what you want.

    This was a wonderful post.

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  12. Hi Kendra,

    I've been thinking of you and your cute family a lot since this post. My boyfriend and I are going through some particularly stressful financial uncertainty right now as well. I hope things are looking up! Hope and faith are all that we can rely on during times like this. God has broad shoulders! x

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  13. We all go through hard things, but we will never know how someone else may be suffering though their own trials. Thank you for your post. Here is a link to one of my favorite talks, I hope it helps Kendra! Love Wendy
    http://www.lds.org/ensign/1980/10/patience?lang=eng If the link doesn't work it is called "patience" by Neil A. Maxwell

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