Wednesday, October 7, 2015

When Your Faith is Small, but Your Hope is Large.



A dear friend wrote about me last month. She said I have a frail faith, but a tenacious hope.

I read that and sat with tears in my eyes and a swollen heart. She said what I've spent years wrestling through and hiding carefully. Because I've spent nearly fifteen years worrying about my lack of faith, worrying about the way it destines me to hell, worrying that one small stone will land me flat on my spiritual face. I've worried about family members and friends who seem sick of His work, wondering if they will drop kick faith into another time and place.

Faith is easy to do when life is good. I know because I did it. I was happy to read my bible, thrilled to be #blessed, and constantly talking about how great is our God. It's easy to say faith with a smile on your face. But faith doesn't usually slip joyfully between sobs, it doesn't look beautiful when it's tear-soaked and bloated by loss.

And so, when dementia came, faith was placed in a waterproof Ziploc on a top shelf and kept safe. It was placed so high I can barely see it when I'm standing on my tippy toes. I don't want faith to be ruined for those looking on. So I bring it out like fine china, share it on those special occasions that happen once a month here on this blog. I mean what I say in those posts, just like I pour my heart into the turkey and stuffing served on our formal dinnerwares.

But it's not the whole story. It's the highlight reel of my Christian life. 

I don't know what I think about God's plan in the mess that's life. My heart shatters over the heaviness of our world, the way loss happens in such enormous ways, the general mess that we -in our free choice- have made. I want to know why He doesn't clean it up a little bit, why my pleas for peace aren't heard, how all the bad things can one day be good.

I am angry, deeply angry, that He hasn't freed my father from his disease. I don't understand the suffering we've all witnessed over the last six years, the brokenness that we're feeling, the sickness is so damn ugly. I want God to be in those places with His hand extended and gentle, but I feel squished, nearly crushed in the filtered air that fills the facility. I lay down at night exhausted from the load we bear and wonder who got the light yoke because mine is a soul-crushing burden.

I don't feel a deep, unwavering faith. Childlike, sure faith does not belong to me. And so, I read her words and sigh in relief. The gig is up.

My faith is tiny. It's so small sometimes I can't see it. It's shaky and scary and sometimes it's crumbling from beneath me. It's cracked and crusted over and all the times I've tried to paste it back together I've failed. I keep trying to hide it in my pocket because it's so small, but then it gets covered in lint and I struggle to clean it up again. My faith is a messy, tiny scrap.

But my Hope. Oh Lord, my Hope. 

It's big. It's from the east to the west. It's larger than the stars in the sky. It's a Hope that knows the number of hairs on my head and cherishes them. It's a Hope that sees the scars on my heart and says "be healed" before I know I'm broken. It's a Hope I can hardly understand because it pursues me harder than any Nicholas Sparks' romance could fathom. It's a Hope that rocks my world with the way it is always falling down over my dry soul like rain on California soil.

My Hope is strong and brave and sometimes so enormous I cry. My Hope is what tears me from bed before the sun rises and reminds me to do this day justice. My Hope is big like the sunset -pink, orange, and colored like sherbet. My Hope says, "live boldly, honestly, abundantly because you are all of those things and more." My Hope calls me Beloved and Precious and Dear in the kindest, gentlest of ways. My Hope knows about my faith, yet it draws me in close and tight, smells my skin, kisses my cheeks and bundles me up cozy in the crook of its arm.

And so, I hope with deep and utter confidence that Hope will grow the mustard seed that's my faith.

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