Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Doubt, Trust, Fear, and Crowd Surfing
"It's not how I hoped my faith would be," I told my friend as we sipped our coffee and shared in whispers the darkest moments of our lives.
"I knew it would happen to me some day. Of course sorrow and fear would visit me too. Why wouldn't it? I expected that at some point I'd experience a life and death crisis, a fear that terrifies. I knew it would happen, but when I'd imagined what it might be like...I don't know," I said, feeling my eyes well up, remembering it as if it had happened just days ago. "When it did come, I didn't react how I thought I would."
My friend nodded, listening generously, not rushing me or trying to squeeze in words.
"I guess I thought that when it happened, when I was plunged into darkness, I pictured myself locking arms with God, tossing aside my fears and springing out of the murk, into the light. It wasn't like that at all."
"What was it like?"
"I couldn't even pray. I thought I'd stay in constant communication with God, but instead I felt kind of stony, focused on getting through each hour.
God wasn't as much a presence as a motor in me, pulling me up from the floor to my hands and knees, helping me crawl from one moment to the next. But I knew God was there, even if I didn't hear words."
"Even if you didn't talk to God. You trusted," she said. "That's trust."
"Maybe," I said. "I guess that's what it was. I didn't feel capable of much else but trust, to be honest. If I could trust, it's only because of my circle of friends. I knew that they would pray even when I couldn't. I felt the quiet inside me, and I knew where it had come from. I was so thankful for their prayers."
I remembered this conversation when I saw the opening photo.
I was that person, carried high by the hands of others. Knowing that they were taking my concerns to God, I could still myself and listen to the faint echoes of scripture and prayers of my past sewn into me. I'm so thankful for community, both online and in flesh and blood. Friends to sit with me beside still waters, to carry me to the Shepherd.
My faith wasn't what I imagined it would be, but it was real. And thanks to my friends, it was enough.
During the dark moments of your life, how has your faith surprised you?
I'd really like to know.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want;
he makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Photo courtesy of Wild_Child_HC, through creative commons.