Sunday, August 23, 2009

Having Faith in the 20%

I have to be honest.

I stopped writing on this blog because I wanted it to be a place where people felt inspired and moved to embark on their own journey. I wanted it to act as proof of my theory that true joy is found in the act of having faith. I stopped writing because I began to think of this as a "happy" place. I'm only just remembering, however, my original intent for this to be a "real" place.

So, in the spirit of uncovering and sharing my real, authentic self, I owe it to my readers to share the latest in this journey.

Africa was a time for reflection, realignment, and building strength to follow through with other changes in my life. I had already made the decision to quit my job cold-turkey (with no other opportunities lined up), but upon my return it was finally time to end my relationship of over 7 years. It's been 18-24 months in the making, a time spent mostly on attempts of bargaining and pleading and trying to reset my needs and expectations. The last 6 months, especially, I spent in paralyzing fear over losing the comfort, security, lifestyle, and love he provided in my life. But even that, I knew, wasn't enough. Our values were misaligned at the very core. Commitment, money, kids, God...these were some pretty big hurdles that we were never able to reach agreement on. Part of my calling to Africa was intended to separate myself from the day to day comfort and live more in the presence of God and listening to his promise and purpose for my life. And part of that was preparing my heart for the strength to let go of that comfort, security, lifestyle and love in order to allow more room for unfolding in this faith experiment.

So, in three weeks I have moved from a 3 bedroom house into a 120 square foot room (comfort), lost a second income to fall back on in case I cannot find or keep a job (security), completely disrupted my routine and definition of leisure (lifestyle), and have found myself bored, alone, and stripped of the validation I received in my relationship (love).

And I'm not going to lie to you: it pretty much sucks. I'm depressed. I'm battling doubts and remorse and fears and a general numbness that I've defaulted into just so I can get out of bed every morning. I'm faced with total ambiguity; I have no idea where to work or where to live or what to do with my time. I took two major leaps of faith (my job and my relationship) because those things were at 80% and I know God promised me 100%. But, in the interim, I find myself at 20%. It's so hard at this phase not to look back at that 80% and think "well, that's no so bad".

But I've come too far to give up now. Though its difficult to remember in this season, at the beginning of this journey I committed to trusting God beyond my own reason and logic. It's amazing how I can easily forget or discount how, in so many ways, God has blatantly proved the promise of provision.

Do I still not understand? (Mark 8:21)

When I read the gospels, the many times that Jesus' followers lost faith jumps out of the pages at me. I find myself thinking, "Jesus just fed four thousand people with seven loaves of bread and they're still freaking out about not having enough to eat?!! Pfssshh...DUH. Open your fricken' eyes!"

In so many ways, he's blatantly shown me that he will answer and provide when the timing is right. Like feeding thousands with only seven loaves of bread, I have been blown away and moved in those moments. Yet, like the disciples just afterwards, I find myself stuck on this boat with only one loaf of bread and I'm so afraid I'll go hungry. I'm so tempted, because of that fear, to pick up the oars and paddle back to the shore he's delivered me from.

But he tells me, gently and patiently, "don't return to the village," (Mark 8:26). Despite the clouds of grief, depression and fear, these are the words I hear most clearly. "I didn't call you out of 80% to leave you here at 20%," he says, "trust me. My promise still lives and breathes as a part of this and I will not fail you."

What I've come to realize in this struggle is that it wasn't in the direct call to quit my job, the coming together of the trip to Africa, or the ongoing financial security through it all where I've experienced faith. Those were the provision...the result of enduring times of ambiguity and uncertainty but constantly believing wholeheartedly in the promise of God.

No, my friends, the true "faith" part of this experiment lives in this uncertainty and fear that results in waiting for the next provision. I can't decide where to live or where to work, let alone what to have for dinner tonight. But I can find stability and peace in this very present moment as I'm writing this. Perhaps that revelation is God reigning me into the core of what it means to have faith. Goals and dreams and visualizations are great and valuable to life, but faith is having confidence in every moment leading up to those realized dreams. Faith lives in the present and fuels the strength, courage, and determination to move forward.

Faith is not something that manifests because we hope it will work, rather hope is a by-product of the unfailing power of faith. My desire - my prayer - is to live each moment conscious of that so that hope, passion, joy, inspiration and love may be restored.