I woke up that night startled... I'd been in and out of precious sleep for hours. We'd been driving through the night for what seemed like forever... but I felt the van rumble to a halt and now, I was awake. I was in the way back crammed between Christmas presents, blankets, and supplies. It was pitch dark outside and there were no other cars to be seen. I saw my two friends outside with the hood of the van open... and smoke was everywhere. When I found my voice I finally asked what in the world was going on.
I learned we were in the middle of Utah, the van broke down because we'd forgotten to put some cap back on. They'd tried to cool it down and used up all of our water in doing so... and still no luck. There was also no one who could get cell phone service at the time. Apparently there aren't too many towers in the middle of no-where-Utah, go figure. Did I mention there were also Coyotes howling in the background... or that is was six hours before someone stopped to help us (it was maybe the 3rd car we saw in six hours so not bad odds)?
I thought the entire situation was utterly hilarious. I remember laughing hysterically over the entire thing... and then regretting it because it made me so thirsty for the water we did not have.
My point I guess in all of this is... not once did I fear. Not once did I wonder if someone would come and rescue us. Not once did I question whether or not God would take care of us. It didn't even cross my mind.
I've been in many dangerous situations... lost in many foreign places... broken down on more than one unfamiliar road. I've walked the streets of African slums and the ravaged streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. And not once in all of that did I question whether or not He would protect me... not once did I doubt Him. I don't remember being afraid...and if I ever was it must have been quickly overwhelmed by how deeply I trusted Him to walk with me through it.
The day I saw those two perfect pink lines... the day I realized I was going to be a mother... all of that changed.
And I was terrified.
I wasn't terrified of her coming into the world, I wasn't afraid of being a mother or the fact that my entire life was about to change.
I was terrified that something might go wrong, that I might loose her. The first three months I carried her I walked on eggshells. I was afraid of every small twinge in my abdomen. Every symptom I had "What to Expect When Your Expecting" didn't dedicate a section to. I probably talked to every nurse on the OB floor. I ate everything healthy, nothing caffeinated, and didn't so much as take a tylenol those first three months. When my first trimester was over and things were fine... I took a deep breath and relaxed a little, let myself have a candy bar or cup of coffee every now and then and didn't worry at every new sensation. That was, until I was barely sixteen weeks pregnant and woke up in the middle of the night covered with blood.
Panic and mind gripping fear overwhelmed us that night. And although I have not spent every waking moment since then afraid... there is always that fear that rises up when I wake in the dark of night... or when I don't feel her move for awhile. That underlying fear that unsettles... shakes me...
And yesterday I was feeling like a "ye of little faith" and remembering verses like "perfect love casts out all fear" and "without faith it is impossible to please God" and something in me broke open.
The things in my life that require great faith are the things I'm most terrified of... because within those things lye my deepest desires, my greatest dreams... my secret longings and deep loves. This isn't being stranded on a road in the middle of nowhere. This is my daughter. The is the baby I have prayed for my entire life. This is flesh of my flesh. This is a deep dream of my heart now reality that grows within me.
And no one has to tell me... I know that to move into places of great faith we first have to enter the places that shake us... terrify us. I know... and I'll be transparent here... It's impossible to please God unless I do the things I'm afraid of.
I knew a man once who said that it wasn't a sin to doubt but that God didn't like it. Who said that the only thing we should fear is God... and to fear anything else means we don't have enough faith.
I think, good intentioned as he was, he was wrong.
Fear offers two routes, flight or faith.
To be so scared that you are trembling... but allowing Him into the deep places of your heart anyway... takes tremendous faith. And just as I was beginning to doubt and feel as if I've fallen so short I felt Him whisper.
"Entering into your greatest fears is the first step in great faith."
Which left me thinking... "yeah, God but I mean... we didn't really have a choice in this, it's not like we willingly stepped in, I mean... I'd like to say we would have but we probably wouldn't have given the choice."
"Your choice came when you learned you were standing in the midst of terror and fear and you chose not to flee."
This has shaken me. I have feared... many times. My two greatest fears on this earth are loosing my husband and loosing my child. And to be told a few weeks ago that one of those fears was entirely possible terrified me.
But then came the songs in the night, the prayers of the faithful, the places in my heart I handed over to Him that I didn't even know were there. Then came the sweet intercession that came when she kicked and I asked God to let me raise her... here. Then came faith. And yes... the fear comes. It comes in times and ways we don't expect it. It comes as I bare my heart on these pages. It comes before every ultrasound. And although the odds are now stacked in our favor... two weeks ago they were most definitely not. And we know all too well how quickly everything can change. And I'm learning something about faith.
Just as much as your faith can't be based on circumstance it also doesn't mean you're fearless. It means in the midst of all that terrifies and shakes you... you hand over those things which are most precious to you anyway. Even though you long for facts and statistics and certainty... you cling to what you cannot see. It means you allow Him to chip away at the fear and allow perfect love to melt even the most terrifying places. Faith means you bear witness even when you feel shaken... to speak His name even when you feel you can't do it justice. It means you become the person your scared to be in the midst of the mess and the confusion and the fear. I'm not saying I'm there, I'm not.
I realize now that walking dangerous roads and breaking down in the middle of nowhere didn't require much faith for me... those weren't great fears. It was easy to trust because it was just me. I trusted Him with me. Handing over those we love the most is so much more difficult.
It hasn't been easy to hand Him my daughter and tell Him I trust Him with her.... even though I know I can. It hasn't been easy to share our story, our faith, and our flaws on these pages... even though I know I'm supposed to. It hasn't been easy to hang in the balance of the seen and unseen... even though we've been asked to drop to our knees and stay awhile.
And that's where the perfect love floods in... slowly pierces our hearts and gives us the ability to stand in that place and whisper His name. That's where the faith comes in... the courage to offer Him all we have to give... even if it's not much... and entrust Him with our fragile hearts.
I deeply long to be someone of great faith... and I know now that it means I might have to stand in the fear for awhile and choose to walk through it. I know that I need to willingly choose to enter in to some of those things that terrify me most. And there are a few things He has revealed to my heart... places that I haven't wanted to go for fear of rejection or pain or inconvenience that I now know I need to step into. There is the woman I've always known I'm supposed to be... but the part of me that doesn't want to go there because I might fail.
I'm going to go there now, some of those places of fear... because even if I fail miserably at least I'll know His heart in the midst of it.
And that's enough. His love... it's enough...