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.

Love, Becky

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.


Daricia said...

becky, i remember having that same thing happen -- that i could not pray when i was going through a certain terribly stressful time. what got me through was having been told that the holy spirit intercedes on our behalf when we can't do it ourselves. i took comfort in that. also, sometimes i think i feel the prayers of friends, parents, even strangers. i know i often pray for strangers and i figure somebody somewhere is probably praying for me, too.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

So true, Daricia. Thank goodness for the Holy Spirit in times like that. I need to remind myself of this generous gift from God!

Susan said...

Beautiful post. Blessedly I haven't experienced this feeling, but I know He will be there for me if that time does come. Take care.

Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

Becky, yesterday I posted about our need for community. This is a perfect example of how we hold each other up. I love it!

Locusts and Wild Honey said...

Awesome post.

In my dark moments, it is the last thread I can cling to. The rest just feels gone, like it slipped through my fingers.

And I don't even know what God wants or where I'm headed. It's just nice to know that he's listening, he cares, and he's out there, somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Even when I prayed without conviction, I hoped that going through the motions said SOMETHING about my faith.

Jenny said...

Becky, wow this is powerful to me. I agree with Daricia that the truth of Romans of the Holy Spirit interceding has lifted me up....but I also, from the image you showed, thought of the lame man whose four friends lifted and lowered him through the ROOF! to get to Jesus for healing..how bold, how faithful, how loving. Our dear heavenly Father certainly does lead us to Him with cords of human kindness....Thank you Becky.

Unknown said...

So thought-provoking, Becky. I have often been disappointed in myself for my human responses to struggles. I've never been in danger of losing faith, but have been angry or disappointed. But that's who we are, right? Human. Faith is all that gets me through sometimes.

Karen said...

I like you, have had times with stoney, unfeeling and glazed over heart. But God waited and chipped away, and brought me clarity.

Thank you for your transparency. Blessings**

Michelle DeRusha said...

You speak such truth here, Becky. I often how I will react, how my faith will "hold" in a time of real darkness. I don't know for sure. I do know that I have a deeply supportive faith community. That friends and loved ones will rally and pray. And I do know that it will make a difference.

I appreciate your honesty here.

Amy Sullivan said...

In my truly dark moments, I remember not praying. God was there. I know it. I just refused to speak to Him. I've always needed to rely on my circle of friends to help guide me and remind me of His promises. When things go wrong, I tend to look away instead of looking up.

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Becky, I'm thinking about when I miscarried my third child, whom we called Gabriel. I despaired. It hit me so hard. And yet...it was amazing...how the prayers of others lifted me out of that pit and helped me live again, and how I came to realize that now, I have a child in heaven leading me home.

If you're inclined to read something edifying on this topic, you might try Joseph Cardinal Bernardin's "Gift of Peace." He wrote much of it while enduring cancer, and in it, he gently admonished the faithful to "pray while you are well," because, he said, it's nearly impossible for you to pray when you're not. When you're not, then you must rely on the prayers of others, and the faith that was laid out in the days following up to unrest or ill health or despair. I have found this to be true in my own life. Mother Teresa went through many years of "The Dark Night of the Soul," in part because of the horrible things she saw all around her. Nevertheless, even while feeling absence of God, she continued believing, continued forward in faith doing His will. That is real faith -- when you can allow God to motor you through even when you cannot get out of bed in the morning of your own accord.

Blessings to you! May your feelings of wholeness and well-being be fully restored soon, God-willing.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, everyone. I'm so glad this period is behind me, but it's good to remember that God is faithful even when we don't have the strength to be faithful in prayer. Love to you all!
And thank you, Roxane, for that book suggestion. I'll check it out.

Terri said...

Since I am still navigating my way through some of the greatest challenges of my life - I'll let you know, when, if - I get to the other side and can reflect back with insight.

It is about trust, faith, friends, prayer. And sometimes for me its about having a glimmer of hope FOR hope, even when I didn't really have any hope.

Julie Gillies said...

Wow, Becky. I love how God was the motor inside you...the One who kept you going.

And I appreciate your authenticity--how things didn't line up with your expectations and yet God was with you and you survived.

God has brought me through many dark moments, usually by a triumphant-feeling faith that somehow rises up inside me. It makes no sense, except that deep down I know God is greater than the circumstance.

Kat said...

When my dad passed away I was shocked by the peace I felt. I had been dreading that moment for so long. Afraid of how I would react and how it would affect me (especially since I was pregnant). It was complete peace that could have only come from God. God gave me such grace during that time. I just couldn't believe it. I still am in awe of it. And so grateful.

Beautiful post!

Karyn @ DFC said...

You know, some of my darkest times of life were years ago now and I couldn't remember until just recently how God was surely present. I remember begging Him to be with me and to help me. And that He did. And I gave Him such little credit for it. Hind sight - always seems to be better.

Unknown said...

Hi Becky, First I wanted to say that I absolutely love your blog. You are always so insightful and add a splash of humor. You are a very talented woman!

Secondly, I wanted to give you some words from the ancient Chinese sage, Lao Tzu.

Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.

I think this philosophy can be applied to our every day lives and I just love Chinese philosophy.

Your loving cousin,