Faith like Hope: I’m not there right now

I love to write sentences that make everything sound a little more beautiful (some call this exaggeration, I call it wordplay), but words can only do so much when you have things to say that just aren’t pretty. Buckle up for some raw Jenna.

It’s been a roller coaster couple of weeks in the area of my faith. There have been some really high highs, and some really low lows. Cue pounding the table at Small group and attempting to lead a small revolt. Cue long conversations about the Bible over brownies and ice cream on work nights. Cue obsessively reading books trying to figure it all out.

But,  I have been wrestling with God. The type of wrestling where you go around and around and exhaust yourself to the point you give up and fall asleep because you are getting nowhere.

I actually do own a WWE championship belt, ironically, and approximately 45 of my students think I was a professional wrestler in the past, but that’s another story for another post.

One of the most common (and most appreciated…keep it coming 😉 ) things people say to me about my blog is that I have such wisdom and that they wish they had faith like me when they were my age.

But it isn’t always like that. I’m not always wise, faithful and strong.

Recently, I received a message from someone who is going through a similar experience I had the past few years.

She said to me, after sharing her story and seeing the parallels between our two lives, something that brought me to tears (not a hard task, I will admit).

She told me that through my experiences, I have wisdom beyond my years and that it is beautiful, but she knows that that many beautiful things come with a price.

Beautiful things come with a price. The fact that she found beauty in my broken parts was enough to make me sob. It makes it all worth it.

There are times I am wise and strong and faithful.

And there are times, like the past few weeks where I am confused, weak and unsure.

I am in a Bible Study that is intensive and has been focusing the past 6 months on the book of Revelation.  This is not your typical, let’s sit in a circle and talk in Christian clichés and feel good phrases. This is a group of 14 of the most incredible women I have ever met sitting and digesting the Word at its deepest level. We are currently studying the judgments of God and His wrath that is coming. (#funtimes)

Oh, how I wish I could say to you that I trust Him so fully, that I can read these things in Revelation 15 and know that God is love, and somehow, in my confusion, in my lack of ability to understand, that I still follow him with certainty.

But sometimes I am unsure. Right now I would rather push things out of my mind and run from them instead of face them with confidence.

I am doubting.

I wonder about the compatibility between God’s wrath and God’s mercy.

I hurt for the evil in the world and I obsess about the purpose of life.

I am taking small, baby, steps, then running backwards.

My faith is weak right now.

Last week, I flew to Florida to see my sister. I was standing in the security line minding my own business (okay, not technically since I am always eavesdropping on surrounding conversations looking for funny things to tweet) and I noticed an emotional goodbye happening between an older woman and her family.

They were all speaking in Spanish through tears, as they said goodbye and parted ways. The woman looked confused as the Security guard approached her to ask her something, so being the outgoing, bilingual social butterfly I am, I marched right up and asked her in Spanish if she needed some help.

That’s when Esperanza and I became friends . She was saying goodbye to her grandson and great-granddaughter. She was Guatemalan and had been visiting for two months.

IMG_3817
My sweet friend!

Coincidentally, Esperanza and I were on the same flight to Chicago. We went through security together. I led the way, interpreting for her and helping her communicate with airport officials.

She trusted me fiercely.

This in itself is so incredibly ironic, because I am literally the WORST at directions of anyone I know. Yesterday, I was borrowing a friend’s house to nap in because it’s close to my work, (normal, right?) and had to use my GPS because I got lost in the neighborhood. Again. I have been there a million times.

Hot mess. The residents of that house didn’t bat an eye. Typical Jenna.

Anyways, Esperanza followed me. She tried to carry my bags for me, all 4 feet 11 inches of her. She was trying to show her appreciation to me. It was my pleasure.

We boarded the plane and flew to Chicago, and prepared to part ways as I showed her where her flight number was on the giant screen and explained in Spanish what to look for.

I pointed her in the right direction and was hoping to fade away and grab an overpriced soft pretzel and relax at my much closer gate. She seemed confident as she headed off alone, but after a few steps, she turned around and looked at me helplessly. So we walked.

We walked approximately 40 miles through O’Hare together. I pointed, she followed. I said turn left, she turned.

She trusted me, a total stranger to lead her in the right direction.

Some would call that absolute ignorance and helplessness (especially if they knew my track record with directions and basic life tasks in general).

Some would call it blind trust and faith.

In the story of my and Esperanza’s big adventure in the airport, I recognize that metaphorically and allegorically speaking I portray the “God” role of guiding and leading her. I almost didn’t share the story because that is honestly the absolute LAST message I am trying to get across here.

I don’t want the focus to be on me in that story. God used me (it was all Jesus because on my way home, I was in the wrong security line and had to do the walk of shame after waiting 20 minutes). Girlfriend can’t keep it together.

I want the focus to be on Esperanza.

I want to have faith like her. Not in myself. Not in my talents. Not in my directional abilities (I promise, I have tried and they do not get me far, figuratively and literally).

I want to follow Jesus and not kick and scream.

But right now I am kicking and screaming.

I am yelling and questioning. I am running away, then crawling back.

I am tired. I am weak.

There are turns and there are alleys and instead of walking forward in faith, like I have preached and wrote about for years, I am planting my feet. I am staying put a little bit.

Esperanza means Hope in Spanish.

One day I want to have faith like Hope.

Right now I don’t. And I want this blog to be real and genuine and authentic, so I am sharing that piece of my heart with you. Sometimes I am okay with not having all of the answers, and sometimes my faith is strong enough to carry me through those seasons. But right now, it’s not.

 

Here’s to faith that is one day just like Hope’s.

Jenna

 

 

 

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. That is such a sweet story about Esperanza. The fact that you know Spanish and that you were there and that you are good at eavesdropping (listening carefully) to people and their problems. I think it was so sweet that you helped her. I hope you find your way and your wrestle is a good one that stretches you. I have those kind of wrestles all the time with God, but in the end we both know He will get us to the right place if we trust Him!

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    1. jennakay says:

      Ben, your comments always are so thoughtful and mean so much to me. Thank you for taking the time to respond and connect. I hope this wrestle is a good one, too. I have been in a few rounds before, but this round feels pretty intense. Thank you for your words and encouragement always!

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      1. Well, it is pretty clear that all your thoughts and actions are genuine and I can’t help but applaud someone who really does care about people in general. Me on the other hand, just look up to people like you that do it so easily, where I am so begrudging to interact with people when I just want to stay in my bubble. Just keep up the great example and know that your light is shining and people like myself are appreciate what you do.

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      2. jennakay says:

        Again, this just made my day. Oftentimes I see my over-emotional, over-connecting, and sometimes TOO outgoing self as a downfall. I honestly get attached to people in a check-out line. And I will admit, it’s probably a little much sometimes, BUT the fact that anyone can see that as a light, or an encouragement to reach out to others makes my heart explode with happiness (my heart is pretty much an emotional volcano waiting to erupt at any moment:) Thank you for the way you encouraged me…even if you weren’t trying to! You did! ha!

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      3. There is nothing wrong with being emotional. That is what makes you so available to people and why your personality is so attractive to people. I bet your students love having someone so awesome as a teacher.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Kimberly says:

    Jenna, I love your honesty and authenticity. I’ve done a few bible studies in my time but have never had quite the same experience. Nonetheless, I’ve had my seasons of questioning and my faith has waxed and waned. I don’t claim to have half the knowledge or biblical education that I suspect you’ve had. I didn’t become a Christian until my late thirties which makes me feel kind of new to the game so to speak at times. Therefore, take this with a grain of salt. But here’s what I wanted to share: If you think of God and yourself in the parent-child roles, then you needn’t be worried or so hard on yourself. I know you aren’t a parent, but a teacher sure is close. And I’ve been a parent for 27 years and a teacher for 31. You know It is natural for a “child” to question, rebel, disbelieve, act out, become frustrated, be critical, etc. of a parent at various times and in various degrees. In fact, all of those things are necessary for growth, self-formation, and maturation. The role of the parent (God) is to love unconditionally, yet set boundaries and clear expectations, be available, offer guidance and wisdom, and know that we don’t always get the respect, devotion, and obedience we deserve. That being said, at the end of the day, I don’t care that my children weren’t perfect in their treatment or thinking about me. I care that they learned something from it, they asked forgiveness when appropriate, they turned to me in times of trouble, they still “seek” me and love me even at their ugliest. I suspect God may feel this exact same way about us. He’s watching you “grow” (and question and gnash), willing to help if you ask, loving you through it all, and never giving up on you. Just like a parent. You aren’t supposed to have all the answers. That doesn’t mean your faith is weak. You don’t have to blindly follow like Esperanza. That kind of faith is beautiful and amazing. But God also created us to have intelligence, curiosity, and minds of our own. So faith that experiences peaks and valleys is still faith, and the beautiful and amazing part of that kind of faith is that He loves you the same through it all.

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    1. jennakay says:

      Kimberly, wow. Your words are so beautiful and mean so much to me. The analogy of the parent-child relationship is so true and beautiful. thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to encourage me and share your wisdom. It means more than you know.

      Like

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