Obviously I don’t have the benefit of taking a readership pole, but the question that I imagine many people have is, “Why does she always talk about faith?”. I imagine people asking this question because I have asked it of myself. The only reason I can think of is that in Bible tells us to focus our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen because what is unseen is eternal.
If for no other reason, I fix my eyes on what is unseen because I can’t bear the burden of my “seen” everyday life. I can’t even begin to describe that feeling I get, when in the space of a few minutes it feels like someone has laid a lead vest on me and weighted it down with anvils. I won’t try to describe the feeling, because I think everyone has their own experience of this. For me, this usually happens daily at about 3:00 in the afternoon.
I CAN’T look at what I see, because what I see is terribly depressing. So I MUST look at the unseen, and that requires faith. Not flash in the pan faith, but a daily faith to believe that what is unseen really is true.
As some of you may have seen from the comments on the blog, a church leader recently gave a sermon using portions of my blog as illustrations. He sent me a copy of his sermon, and one evening alone by myself, I listened to that sermon. I felt that he put together a wonderful message and that he represented my thoughts well.
However, there was another interesting side effect of hearing that sermon – for the first time, I saw my writing through other people’s eyes. I couldn’t believe that the words I shakily type when I sit alone with my computer, come out sounding so full of faith. I sound so darn certain of myself in the face of this trial! I found myself thinking, “Who is this Jessica Frey? I really need to meet her and talk to her.” But nobody sees me when I lay on my bed and stare at the wall. Nobody sees how easy it is for me to give in when the pain gives my heart a good twist several times a day.
You may ask yourself (as I do), what exactly is it that hurts so bad? But I have no answer to that. I can’t put my finger on it. It just does. So much has been lost.
In nutrition we talk about acute malnutrition and chronic malnutrition. Acute malnutrition occurs during times of natural disasters, war, etc. It is a period of intense food shortage that causes a child to become very skinny and bony, but after a time it ends. There are some serious impacts to a child’s body, but generally speaking for the long term, the impacts are reversible. With chronic malnutrition however, the child is deprived of food for such a long time that it actually stunts their growth and development. These effects cannot be reversed and for the rest of their life they will bear the inner and outer markings of that period of malnutrition.
I think faith can fall into these categories too (I know there are people who could blow holes in this analogy). There are many times in our lives when we are called upon to have intense faith for a shorter period of time. These times are important, but perhaps it is easier for us to “recover” or even sometimes to forget after these times. However there are other times when our faith needs to be more durable then it does intense. Durable, because there is a long stretch of wilderness ahead of us. We will bear the marks of this time for the rest of our lives.
In the beginning of this crisis, I think I had an intense faith. That intense faith was a gift from God. Nothing else would have been able to get me through those first few weeks. And in those first few weeks, I made a lot of big, bold statements. But now we are stretching into months. And just like the Israelites in the wilderness, I find that if I don’t get my manna from heaven each day, I’m a basket case. You can’t sprint the marathon. I still believe the big bold statements I have made, but let me tell you they are being put to the test of time.
These last few days have been especially hard emotionally, with James gone to Beijing. Not only is he where I want to be, he is NOT here with me. Even though he is coming back, I still have the sensation of having been stripped of yet another thing. I’m not saying this is true, but it FEELS like I have already been stripped of a future, stripped of my independence, stripped of having a future role in my children’s lives, and stripped of any meaningful occupation for my time. Having James away has stripped me of the only person who grown with me continually for the past six and a half years, and intensively grown with me in the last three months. All those things combined together makes me feel like one lonely individual.
What can faith do for me when I feel like this? I’ve been asking myself this question everyday. I think sometimes the only thing that keeps me going is that I have a deep desire to show God that I love him. When I could be complaining in the wilderness, I want God to look at me and see me thanking him for his goodness and telling him that I love him. After all, who demonstrates love better? Someone who gives a dozen red roses on Valentine’s Day or someone who stays with you when it is easier to leave?
I want Jesus to know that I love him, so I want to sing for him when it would easier to scream at him. I’m not saying that I should squelch the desire to scream (I have screamed). What I am saying is that I want to seize the opportunity give something to God when it actually costs me something. For me right now, this is faith.