As many of you know, each year I am given a word to focus on. This past year, my word was Faith. Every time I thought of my word, one verse came to mind:
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). I’ve known this verse since my high school days, but never really taken the time to reflect on what it actually means. What is the substance of something as fragile as hope? What is the evidence of the invisible? And, even if I can answer those questions academically, how is it practically applicable to my life?
I try not to enter the year with any presuppositions about how the word will be seen in my life, but that is difficult with a word like faith! Faith implies belief in the face of impossible odds, hope through the darkest of circumstances, and unshakable confidence in spite of adversity. For the first half of 2014, I experienced none of that. Instead, life was as lovely as a dream. Gabe (my boyfriend at the time) and I had come to realize we wanted to marry, and I knew that a proposal was coming in the first half of 2014. I also knew that we planned to marry that same year. In March of 2014, Gabriel proposed at a black-tie gala in the Bahamas. I was able to say “Yes” to forever with my best friend and the most beautiful ring I’ve ever had the privilege of laying eyes on. We booked our wedding at the winery which had a special place in our hearts, and everything was ready for me to move into his current home in Newport Beach, CA, which I loved and couldn’t wait to call “our first place”. Wedding planning went smoothly, and I was able to take an amazing job in Fountain Valley, doing what I loved for great money just minutes from our future home. It was perfect. It was effortless. Then, in July, an event we had prayed and hoped for occurred: Gabe was promoted, and we were moving. And we weren’t even leaving the state, which we had feared a promotion would necessitate. We were moving to San Francisco!
We prayed through accepting the promotion, and came to the conclusion that it was where the Lord wanted us, so Gabe accepted the position, we gave notice on our Newport Beach apartment, I let my job know I would be leaving in September, and we began to search for a place to call home in the city. We assumed it would be easy, effortless, like the rest of the year had been. After all, it was where the Lord had called us, and He would provide. We had faith.
It’s hard for me to look back on the time from July to October, because it was one of the hardest times I’ve experienced, and in retrospect, one of the times I can truly see that I missed what God had for me. That doesn’t mean that He hasn’t worked everything for good, because He has, and I can clearly see His hand in what He has provided for us, but I know I could have grown more, and I regret letting my faith be choked out when adversity hit.
You see, my belief failed in the face of what I saw as insurmountable odds. I lost hope when the skies faded to grey, and my confidence faltered before I even began to grow.
Finding a place to live in San Francisco is a nightmare. Rent is high, places are tiny, and there are fifteen people clawing to get in to each available apartment. Gabe and I spent weeks searching, with him living in hotel and me flying up on weekends, submitting tens of applications, and never getting a place. I became hopeless, worried, and lost faith. I wasn’t sure I believed we were making the right choice. I wasn’t sure God had actually called us to San Francisco. I wasn’t even sure that if we did eventually find a place, it wouldn’t be without letting go of our sofa, new bed, and dog.
In retrospect, I can see that I fit perfectly into the “seed scattered among the thorns” in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13). Without even realizing it, I became so wrapped up in my concern over finding a place to live and my fear of letting go of so many things that I let my hope be choked out. Hope is so fragile. It springs up as such a delicate thing, and dies silently unless we protect and nurture it. I let mine die, without even putting up a fight. I also see what a chance I had to become a stronger woman. In Romans 5, we’re told that through faith we have peace, then it’s hashed out in greater detail in verses 3-4: “…suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”. How convicting that I didn’t even make it to perseverance. I had a chance to experience the “evidence of things hoped for”, and instead settled for worry and despair. However, in spite of my faithlessness, God was faithful, and brought Gabe and I to a beautiful home in the Sunset District, where our sofa, bed, and even the dog are all happily settled.
And, after we married in October, God has been actively teaching me how much faith a new wife needs to love her husband selflessly. It humbles me daily how inadequate what I have in my heart is compared to the grace, support, and acceptance my husband needs. But, I am learning to have faith that God will shine through my cracks and enable me to love Gabe the way He loves him.
Now, entering 2015, I have been given two words for the first time. This year, I will be walking with, learning about, and meditating on “Transform” and “Redeem”. I can’t wait to see what this year will bring, and fervently hope and pray that I will be more faithful with my words this year than I was last year.
So, Happy New Year. Let’s embrace whatever comes to us in 2015 with hope and excitement, living every day passionately, loving others and ourselves through it all.