The Problem With Believing In God

zen garden

Peaceful quietude in the middle of chaos

“Well, Mom, do you think I made a good choice?” We stared out the windshield of my parents’ van as my dad and new husband walked to the doors of a building.

She turned and looked me in the eye, one eyebrow slightly raised. “You really think it was your choice, Jahnelle?”

Memories of the past three years ran through my head. The first time I met this quiet, serious, shy guy who is now the Mr. to my Mrs., I was so full of mental anguish I couldn’t breathe because of it. At first, he was just a guy who went to the same church as me. Nice, but I wasn’t interested in – well, anything, to tell you the truth. I was lucky to get up in the morning and not fall apart.

For two years, he listened to me cry – hands in his pockets, warm brown eyes watching me. He became a friend, this calm man of few words. He asked questions, nodded at the answers or tilted his head to the side, inviting more. He listened as I worked through issues big and small. He was like those rocks in the middle of the Zen sand garden: peaceful quietude against my chaotic emotions.

Because he listened, I talked; because I talked, he listened. He became my best friend, and then – to my surprise – the man I love.

We never actually had the “will you marry me” conversation. He didn’t propose; I didn’t accept. A few days before our wedding, we cracked jokes about it, but it wasn’t… important. Why? Because we knew where we were headed from the first time I called him and told him I loved him.

(I was very suave, by the way. I told him I’d throw up if I didn’t get the words out, and then hung on to the phone for dear life, shaking like a leaf, until he responded.)

Answered Prayer

There was so much need when I met him. He needed the kids and me as much as we needed him. Our chaos needed his calmness. He needed the noise and bustle of a family. We all needed the love we could share with each other as a whole, loving family.

I’d given up looking and started praying. There were so many requirements if I were to marry again. He had to work well with my children. He had to like kids. He had to understand that I would be my sister’s guardian when my parents passed, and be okay with that. He had to understanding of my wish to be close to my parents because of my dad’s cancer and their ages. He had to be family oriented and have the same beliefs as me.

That’s a long list.

And God answered it with Jay – whose past experiences had prepared him for dealing with a special needs person like Becky; who loved and had always wanted kids; who was family oriented and loved my parents. He understood me enough to voluntarily move out of his own home and into ours so I wouldn’t have to leave my parents. It makes it a little tight, but I can continue to be there for them.

In thinking about all of that as I looked at my mom’s raised eyebrow, I had to admit that, no – I hadn’t really chosen Jay. On hindsight, that makes it sound like he was standing in a line where I pointed at him and said, “I’ll take that one.”

I know, and Jay knows, that we’re God’s gifts to each other – which brings me to the real point of this blog that has been slamming around in my head for the past week…

The Problem with Believing in God

"Footsteps", by Ryan Holst, on Flickr>Putting one foot in front of the other...

“Footsteps”, by Ryan Holst, on Flickr>

Putting one foot in front of the other…

Believing in God is such a humbling experience. For someone with a serious pride issue, it’s frustrating. If I believe God brought Jay and me together, what part can I pat myself on the back for? The part where I almost threw up on the phone?

Oh, I know – the part where we stood outside in the driveway, in 15-degree weather, lying through chattering teeth about not being cold so we could spend a few more precious moments together. Yes, because that’s something mature adults should do, right?

Yes, after much thought, I can’t take credit for anything other than saying, “I do.”

Last night, we walked about a mile and a half – maybe two miles. About half way through, I was in such pain I wanted to scream with it. “It’s just one foot in front of the other, baby,” Jay said.

Oh, yes – one foot, two foot, one foot, two foot. Father, please help me get back home. Please help me get through this. This hurts so much…

We made it. We always do. And when I hobbled into the driveway, I thought, “Look at that! I made it,” but did I really? What did I do but put one foot in front of the other? Did I persevere, or did God, in His infinite mercy, help me every step of the way?

Was it answered prayer? Yes, because no matter how it happened, the prayer was answered when I put my foot on the driveway. How can I say, “I made it”? I can’t. I can’t be triumphant in that way. Instead, all I can say and be truthful is, “Thank you, Father, for answering my prayer and helping me home.”

When I was working for Level343 and we got our first big client, I couldn’t pat myself on the back. I could say, “I’ve worked hard,” but could I really say, “Look what I’ve done!” No, not when I believe in the God of the Bible, who promises to provide for us. All I’ve really done is put one foot in front of the other again.

Now, I have as close to my dream working environment as I ever thought I’d get. I enjoy the projects I do, the people I work with and the money I make. They understand that I’m limited by the amount of stress I can handle because of the fibromyalgia, and are willing to work with me. I’ve only heard of companies like that.

Now, I know what I’ve done in my past work history and experience, and they do, too. I know that where I am now is far past where most people are with my background. In other words, I can’t say I’m working with these people because I’m anything special, or because I know the secret sauce. As far as I’m concerned, knowing what I know, it’s a miracle – and if a miracle, I can’t take the credit.

Darned if that isn’t humbling.

-And I am so thankful for it.

Lessons Learned

We’re quick to blame God when things go wrong. A common question when there is tragedy ( at least in America) is, “Why did God allow this to happen?”

When my former fiancé left, I prayed so hard for him to come back. I asked God to fix it – to fix him. To put love in his heart – for us. For me. I asked God why He was leaving things the way they were. I begged, pleaded, cried… but you know, if I’d married that man, I would have been miserable. The kids would have been miserable. He would have been miserable. We were the wrong people for each other, trying to do the right thing, for the wrong reasons.

When my back started hurting so bad, when my hips started screaming at me – when I started getting old before I was half way there, I asked the same question. “Why? What lessons are you trying to teach me? What could I possibly learn when I can’t think past the pain?”

Yet, I’m learning something that has been a hard lesson all my life: compassion for others. I understand pain like I never have before. I understand weakness. At 36 years old, I know what it’s like to have to use a cane to walk. I know what it’s like to have someone cut my food for me when it hurt too much to do it myself. I know the feeling of helplessness and humiliation that can come when a proud person has to accept someone doing for them – not because I want them to, but because I have no choice. Those are hard lessons, but I’m learning them – step by painful step, putting one foot in front of the other.

So what’s the big lesson for this blog post? What wisdom am I gaining?

If you believe in God, there’s no room for pride. There’s an understanding that you are in the hands of someone far wiser, stronger and bigger than you – who loves you, answers your prayers, and lets you learn the lessons you need to learn to be a Christian. That’s His job, and He’s good at it.

If you believe in God, there’s only room for humility as you fall to your knees and thank Him for all His marvelous works in your life.

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