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.
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.