Why Does God Allow Trials? (pt. 3)

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

By the time I made it back to Texas that winter, I’d been wandering, physically, for only about 4 months. Spiritually, I’d been “wandering” for about half a year. On both counts, however, it felt much longer. I was a whole new kind of desperate after experiencing the drugs and homelessness and the loneliness that comes with that sort of wandering.

My parents accepted me again warmly, if hesitantly, after I returned from North Carolina. I was desperate enough to accept their help even though it came with conditions. The boy had to stay away, preferably in North Carolina. In the end, I felt so sorry for him that I paid his way to TX with money my parents had given me to help me get back on my feet. I stuck him into our house when he refused to stay at a shelter. Things happened that I’m very much not proud of, and then my parents caught on, and everything fell apart. I clung to the guy. Why to him? I really don’t know, but I clung hard until he cheated on me, and then I started to let go.

 

So what is the WHY behind the trials we face?

Christians believe that God has a purpose for everything – and often go as far as to say that there is no such thing as coincidence. Even bad things (trials) have a reason and purpose, and, if you’re a Christian, you know that God promises He “works all things together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

The Bible says that trials produce endurance and patience, and patience produces character, and character produces hope (Romans 5). Hope is an interesting thing. It’s a lot like faith. It’s a very active belief in God – a “confident expectation.” How do we grow or increase our hope/faith? Well, the best way to see improvement in any skill is to use it, and trials give us the perfect opportunity to exercise and use our faith, our character, and our hope.

Sometimes, though, I think we get discouraged when we don’t see an immediate benefit from our trials. For me, at every turn, my trial became more unbearable. In addition to the fact that my running did nothing to help with my original pain, I found all kinds of new sources of pain. I found only more and more trouble as I moved through, even though all I was trying to do was make the pain stop, and that continued until I began to turn back to God.

So my point here is two-fold.

  1. There is a purpose to our pain, and that is growth.
  2. There is a choice we must make every time we come upon a trial, and that is which wisdom will we trust. Man’s worldly wisdom? Or God’s wisdom?

Man’s wisdom vs. God’s widsom

These verses describe how God would have us face trials:

  • James 1:12 – Be steadfast
  • Romans 12:12 – Rejoice, have hope, be patient, and pray
  • John 16:33 – Have peace and take heart
  • Phillippians 4 – Don’t be anxious, but pray about everything
  • Romans 5:3, Matthew 5:12, 1 Peter 4: 13 – Multiples verses say to REJOICE in suffering
  • Joshua 1:9 – Be strong and courageous.

 

When I was in the midst of this trial, I was faced with a choice. Would I continue to have faith in Him, or would I doubt? Would I trust in Him and His solutions for my life?

When God would say to pray, believing… the world would say to act. When God would say to honor your parents (period!)… the world would ask whether they are really deserving of honor. When God would say to turn the other cheek… the world would say that you must stand up for yourself. When God would say that trials produce character… the world would say that a loving God wouldn’t let bad things happen to good, undeserving people.

I handled my pain with man’s wisdom: by escaping in every way I could and eventually by turning away from God to every worldly solution I could find. I even physically ran away and clung to a person other than God, all in an effort to ease my pain.

I’m the example not to follow, but there’s another example in Matthew chapter 4. Jesus had been fasting. No food for 40 days. Then the Tempter comes. The Devil. The lord of this world. Basically, Satan offers Jesus some worldly solutions. He questions God’s power. “Turn this rock into bread.”

God was calling Jesus to continue His fast and to do the hard thing by trusting God to provide for his needs, his strength, and his food when it was time to eat. (Be steadfast!) The world said, “Come on, it’s been long enough, just perform a miracle and eat already. You’ve had it rough – it’s time for some easy. You deserve it.”

Jesus chose the unconventional path – God’s way. He stood up and said, no, man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)

God asks you to trust when you can’t see the way, to keep moving when you feel faint, and, sometimes, to do nothing when you’re in a state of hyperactive panic. Sometimes God’s way goes against every natural instinct. Sometimes it seems He is asking us to face more pain than should be necessary. However, I know now that there is a reason behind it, and there is always something really good on the other side.

When God is trying to help me grow, it’s worth it.

 

In my life it seems that God is willing to let me keep choosing the world’s way and reaping that pain until I’m ready to turn back to Him. That was me in this story, and during those times of pain I was just surviving.

Eventually, though, things began to change. It started when I came back to Texas, to my parents. After some more ups and downs and wanderings, I eventually made my way back to God, back to church, back to prayer, back to the Bible. These things happened slowly, one by one, but eventually I was in a place where I was relying on God and things started to improve. The messes I’d gotten myself into started to disappear as I exercised my trust in God’s solutions.

When I came out on the other side, somewhere around 2007, I was stronger, and my faith had increased by leaps and bounds. I wasn’t just surviving; I was thriving. I had been blessed with things I’d never dreamed I could have just a year before – the perfect (for me, at that time) job, a great apartment, awesome friends. As I received these blessings, knowing I’d done nothing to make them happen, knowing it was all His doing, I gained a new understanding of trust…faith…hope…endurance. I had to live it to begin to understand how awesome it was to experience God’s provision after turning trusting His way. I learned that when we choose worldly solutions and wisdom rather than God, our pain and suffering is compounded, we face more trials, and we create a vicious cycle.

And I think that’s why God allows trials. To allow us to grow and thrive. There is no shortcut to the kind of character produced by suffering. We just need to be sure to face the trials with God’s wisdom. That’s what I remind myself of as I continue to face trials in my life, my marriage, my living situations, and my work.

And I hope you will now remind yourself, as you face trials, to think about God’s infinite wisdom and grace. Trust Him to see you through, and don’t compound your pain by turning to man’s wisdom. You may not be able to see it now, but good things are coming. Growth, character, hope, and likely even physical blessings. Be steadfast!

Where I’ve Been

I haven’t posted anything in ages, and I’m sorry. If you know me, you know it’s been a tough few months! Car trouble, pregnancy, money, depression.

The goal for my next post was to finish up my series on why God allows trials. I have a ton of notes written for that post, but I wasn’t able to complete it before I was hit with one of my own trials (or my own series of trials). Hopefully, my experiences over the last three months will make it a better article than it would have been!

I’ll write it. Soon. But until then, I wanted to say that I’m still here, and I haven’t given up. I’m also still learning. I didn’t face my trials as well as I could have. I was disappointed in myself when my attitude became very negative and I told those closest to me that I was not okay and the situation was not okay and not going to be okay. I believed God was still with me and would see me through, but knowing it deep down wasn’t the same as letting it be reflected through my actions and attitudes. But I will write and finish that series.

By way of update, Hubby and I are expecting baby #1 sometime before October. Smile We have a new(ish) car with lots of back seat space. I am in business for myself as a Virtual Assistant over at www.Michelle.io (check it out!) (running a business is a lot of work!) and have plans to expand and grow. Speaking of expanding and growing, I’m almost ready to get into maternity clothes. And, though I was depressed for a while, I can see the sky again, at least for now, and I’m always grateful for such times as these. Oh, and I’ve learned to drink lots of water. I think that’s most of the new stuff.

Why Does God Allow Trials? (pt. 2)

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

During my time away from God, the time I spent calling myself agnostic, I let down a lot of standards. Certain things weren’t temptations for me, so I stayed pure in some areas not because of my morals or standards but because I just had no interest. I did, however, try out (more) forms of self-medication and escapism. I left my family, turned my back on their attempts to help, and ran off to Arkansas where I moved in with a guy I barely knew. Then later I ran off with another guy I barely knew. I lied and snuck around and let things come out of my mouth that I’d not previously allowed.

My coming back to God was a process. It didn’t happen in a sudden transformation. In fact, it’s been an ongoing thing ever since its beginning, but I guess that’s how relationships work.

After several months of wandering, I hit a new low. My depression and anxiety were untreated because, of course, I had no insurance and no money. My Asperger’s had never been diagnosed, let alone had I learned how to handle it. I had no job. I was alone with a guy I’d only known a couple months with all my family hundreds of miles away. I had a suitcase of clothing and books, a pillow and blanket, and a tent with a leak, and it was winter. And it was in the mountains of North Carolina. And it was raining. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

For once, it wasn’t just me who was lying awake at night.

He was cold and frustrated and, now, wet from the leak in our tent. I was miserably curled up on the half-deflated air mattress, my precious Tempurpedic pillow hard as a rock from the cold. We had moved our camp down the mountain a bit, so it wasn’t quite as freezing as it had been the previous nights, but it was miserable nonetheless. My one beige blanket wasn’t enough to keep us warm.

It had taken hours, the first night, for my hip to touch the ground, but apparently the hole in the mattress had grown, and this time it only took half an hour. I couldn’t help but think of the waste of money both the tent and the air mattress had turned out to be. What useful things we could have bought when we arrived in Asheville, NC, if we hadn’t purchased these wastes. Food, for instance, would have been good. Shampoo, maybe. A camping stove. But we had none of those.

The rain began to fall harder, and we realized we couldn’t stay in the tent all night like this. Instead, we let ourselves out into the dark woods with our jackets and single  umbrella and began to walk into town. There was a 24-hour diner down the hill and about a half a mile past the Greyhound bus station (where we had arrived several days prior). We took seats and ordered coffee and hot chocolate, and I pulled out my old Nokia cellphone, grateful once again that my sister had let me remain on the family phone plan when I ran away.

While he lay down on the bench on his side of the table, I dialed my mom in Texas, and I told her about my miserable predicament, but it didn’t take long before I realized I couldn’t accept any offers of help from her since they would involve leaving him here, stranded and alone. My parents – no, actually, every one of my family and friends disapproved of my choice of companion. I could see their point. If I had not gotten involved with him, I would still be in Arkansas with a place to stay and a not-so-bad job at a daycare. Instead, I’d brought home a stray and decided to take care of him, sacrificing what little I had because he liked me and gave me attention.

The staff in the diner grew tired of us, of him sleeping in their booth, of the fact that we were obviously just using them as a place to hide from the weather even though we couldn’t afford any real purchases, and they told us we needed to leave. We ended up walking about 3 miles down to Walmart, the only other business open in the middle of the night, and we spent the rest of the night pacing around the store, killing time.

The next day, we were sitting in a church waiting for the attached soup kitchen to open for lunch, when I received a phone call from an angry-sounding man asking for my companion. My companion filled me in after the call, telling me it was nothing – a misunderstanding or a wrong number. They said he owed money, but he didn’t, and they had the wrong guy. They claimed to have a recording of his voice, but it wasn’t him. Feeling confused, I tried to shrug it off, but the ball dropped later that day as we were in the bus station.

It was my sister who called, this time. Michelle, I need to talk to you about the cellphone bill. I knew it was going to be bad. And it was. He had racked up hundreds of dollars on my phone, which was in my sister’s name. What was worse, the charges weren’t all innocent like the text messages that cost $0.10 per message or the calls to information (411). Most of the charges were from calls and texts to 900 numbers. Hotlines. Inappropriate, embarrassing secrets, all going on behind my own back on my own phone.

Finally, I was disgusted enough to agree to my mother’s offer. That same day, I got on  yet another Greyhound bus and headed back home to Texas, leaving my companion behind. (For a time.)

Mom and Michelle in 2006

(My mom and me eating cake for my Bday about a month after this story takes place.)

Why Does God Allow Trials? (pt. 1)

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

The first time I really, honestly questioned God’s existence was when I was 18 and facing a rough spot in life, a trial. My trial was mostly internal and invisible. At the time, I wished I had been crippled or had cancer or something, anything that someone else might be able to see from the outside. I hated the fact that people could look at me and think, “She has it pretty good!”

I went through a long trial, and I was a Christian, so I prayed. I prayed things like, “God, I know you’re there, so please help me,” and like, “God, I’m not asking you to change my circumstance. Just help me through it. Please. I need you.”

But I felt nothing as I prayed. And I felt nothing after I prayed. And I saw no sign of any supernatural help from God.

I thought I wasn’t believing hard enough or wasn’t living perfectly enough, so I put more effort into doing the right things and praying the right way and believing harder because that’s what was supposed to help. Eventually, though, I crossed a line and allowed myself to consider something else.

My rationality became: If God exists, I believe He has to be the God of the Bible. I believe He is everything the Bible says He is. Therefore, God must be holy, just, omniscient, omnipotent, merciful, and loving – all these things I’ve always believed Him to be. I don’t doubt that He is those things. But a loving God wouldn’t do this to me. If God exists and loves me, He would be helping me, not ignoring me. I’ve been pleading for a year, and nothing has happened. There’s no chance that God is simply not those things; therefore I have to conclude that maybe God doesn’t exist at all.

After I figured that out, I started calling myself agnostic. I stopped going to church. Stopped praying. Let down my guard and my standards. Went about my life as best as I could without God. (For a time.)

A “Hopeless” Wish? Or A Confident Expectation?

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (KJV)

Faith, hope, and love.

Really?

More like faith, love, and wishful thinking.

Love is the “greatest,” the most obvious, and possibly the hardest. We understand that love is generous, patient, kind, and forgiving. We know that “love covers a multitude of sin,” and we know that we are to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”

Faith is complex, but we understand it to some degree. We know it’s the “evidence of things unseen.” We know it can move mountains – or it should be able to, at least. We know that we are “saved by grace through faith,” so even if it’s not the greatest of the three, it’s still pretty great.

But what of hope?

Do we think enough about hope? Do we think of hope at all?

We hope things go well, hope God will answer our prayers, et cetera, but, really, is it any more to us than wishful thinking?

The word hope appears in the KJV 133 times, and it goes up from there when looking at other translations. ESV mentions hope 164 times, NIV 180, and the Amplified Bible has 195 occurrences of the word hope. For comparison, KJV mentions faith 336 times and love/charity 466 times. (These numbers come from keyword searches on BibleGateway.com.)

In what (or in whom) do we hope? And what is hope?

Is Christianity defined by sinlessness, grace, love, and faith more than it is defined by hope? I found a neat article on Bible.org that says the modern idea of hope is “to desire very much, but with no real assurance of getting your desire.” Wishful thinking. But, more than that, it actually sounds kind of hope-less, doesn’t it? No assurance of getting your desire? If this is hope, why would it be much of a big deal at all?

The article goes on to explain, however, that in scripture the word indicates certainty and trust. It is a confident expectation. “In the Bible, hope is never a static or passive thing…It is dynamic, active, directive, and life-sustaining.” It’s not an unrealistic wish. It’s not a desire with no assurance. It is not an escape from reality. Hope is based in reality, on God’s promises, and it’s a huge part of the Christian life.

Psalm 71:5 (Amplified Bible)

For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my trust from my youth and the source of my confidence.

In the general, non-Christian population, hope (confident expectation) is usually placed in oneself. People expect themselves to succeed, to pull through. In spite of all odds and all difficulties, they will, in the end, expect to see themselves thrive. ((Not everyone. Some people are depressed and utterly hopeless. Some have had their confidence shattered, but it’s true for the majority.)

What’s sad to me is that, as far as I can see, Christians tend to be the same way! We believe in ourselves above all else, and when it comes to God  and His promises we have these wishy-washy, timid desires. Our hope is more like “positive thinking,” and it contains no real power or reward.

Hope should be a more prominent theme in Christianity. Why else does God tell us so many amazing things about it? Our hope should be in Christ and in His promises. Then we will find hope giving us joy and peace. Then we will find hope sustaining us. Then we will find compassion and and grace and abundant life.

We have to change our thinking and renew our minds and re-focus. Place your “confident expectation” where it should be. Not on you. On the One who provides.

Lamentation 3:21-26 (Amplified Bible)

But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation: It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.

The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him. The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s word].

It is good that one should hope in and wait quietly for the salvation (the safety and ease) of the Lord.

Romans 5:2-6 (Amplified Bible)

Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.

Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. While we were yet in weakness [powerless to help ourselves], at the fitting time Christ died for (in behalf of) the ungodly.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (Amplified Bible)

[Most] blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.

Isaiah 26:3-4 (Amplified Bible)

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].

Amplified Bible (AMP)

Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

Trusting the Only One I Can Conclusion

Part Two

Very shortly before we moved, we finally settled where we would be living. A first-time landlord was renting out a beautiful country home for a price we could just afford, and, man, the pictures were just beautiful. They even helped us move in and flew down from another state to sign the papers with us the very day after we arrived in Missouri, so we only had to spend two nights in an expensive hotel.

Fantastic. Beautiful house, tons of space, living in the country with plans to grow tons of veggies in the big garden, almost fully unpacked quicker than I thought possible. Marty’s work was going great, and they were promising him a promotion, and we even found a church to visit that seemed good. Yup, it was a good 2 weeks or so.

Then Marty ended up at the hospital. And I had a wreck. And I started resenting the stupid country home. Stupid house, with stupid gravel roads, and stupid ambulances and tow trucks that couldn’t ever find it, and stupid lack of cellphone and internet reception, and stupid everything. I felt unsafe, and I was worried about having an accident or emergency and being unable to get help. I was afraid to drive over 10 MPH, and my anxiety and depression went through the roof.

Mom, my hero, came to my rescue again. She stayed with me for a month at the beginning of Marty’s deployment when I was falling apart, and she stayed with me for three weeks here in Missouri when I was falling apart. She helped me a lot, and I got some support from my doctor, and I got back into counseling, and we attended church regularly at the church Marty and I had visited twice, but I was hardly praying, and I wasn’t really acting as if I trusted God.

Right after my mom had to leave, Marty and I spoke on the phone, and he revealed some things to me that were extremely painful. Things from his past that he had been advised never to tell me… but he decided he wanted to be open (and, in my opinion, he probably needed to get these things out in the open in order to heal). At first, the pain was excruciating, but that didn’t last as long as I’d expected. It faded and was replaced by an extremely heavy burden. It was so heavy, and I cried not because I was hurting so much as because I just didn’t know what in the world to do with this burden, this information. Where did life go from here, and what was I supposed to do every day? I felt kind of numb, kind of depressed, very burdened.

But God never abandoned me. Never, in everything I’ve gone through, and only a few of you really know everything that I’ve gone through. When I’m in true need, he always has made a way. My jobs and living situations, in so many more instances than the ones I’ve mentioned above… He always provided. Financially, always. When I had a wreck and was panicked? When we had to pay thousands of dollars for fixing the car and having a rental? When Marty was in the hospital? My mom was able to come, the money came just in time for our DITY move, and God put us in exactly the right place.

It took that kind of breaking that happened when Marty revealed those things to me to get to another level. Because for two days I carried that burden, and then it was Sunday. I planned to get up early and go to church, and I was going to talk to the Pastor’s wife that morning before service and try to get some help or perspective or prayer or something. When I woke up, though, I said screw it. Nevermind. I can’t do it. I’m tired, and I’m depressed, and I’m going back to sleep. I did. I went back to sleep. And then I woke up, and I had just enough time to go to church. I went.

(Sidenote: This church is different from any I’ve been to. They call themselves non-denominational and Holy Spirit led. They’re truly unique. And at this church, the worship service is basically in the dark, and many of the congregation (which is only about 15 people on a good day) go up front to this open area where they sometimes dance or lift hands or kneel or lay flat on their faces or wave flags around or clap or just whatever they’re led to do. It’s all completely unique. I spent my first two months there standing by my pew and singing, like I would have anywhere else, but I kept feeling like I should go up. Go up front. Go up front. I felt like I needed to just do it. Go up front. I told God he had to be patient with me because I’m shy. Just be patient, God. I’m not trying to fight you, just trying to work up the courage.)

Worship began, and I felt that tug I’d been feeling for weeks. Go up front. I thought about it, but no, I couldn’t. See, so-and-so is standing right there, and I’d have to squeeze past and disturb her, and, see, on the other side there’s so-and-so, and he’s taking up the whole space. I won’t fit. We got to the second to the last song, and all the so-and-sos left. Errr.. Okay, God. I guess… I guess this is it. I started to go, I stopped. I almost took a step, I stopped. I took a step, I went back. Finally, though, I forced myself to walk up to the front. I stood awkwardly to the side with my arms crossed across my tummy and closed my eyes and sang.

The female deacon of the church came up to me shortly afterward and placed her hand on the center of my chest, starting to pray for me. I kept singing. She gently unfolded my arms till they were palm-up at my sides. She touched my head, told me to let go, let go, let go, breathe deep. From behind me, someone was touching my back, and someone was holding my arms up until I was reaching up to heaven, and I started to shake. It was hot. I was worried maybe nothing would happen, and how would I have faith then? But I was shaking, and I was breathing deep and telling God I let go, I don’t want it, You take it! My knees were weak, and at least three people were praying around me as the last song started up.

They say you’re slain in the Spirit when they touch you and pray over you and you fall down. I wanted that, but I couldn’t figure out where the line was between resisting and simply letting my legs give out. Eventually, though, I was at the point where I felt like I was going to faint, and I just went ahead and sat down. The others left, though one put a light blanket over my head, but the deacon stayed and prayed. She held my face and prayed and told me to let go, and I continued to just try and do what she said. Breathe deep. Let go of everything.

When worship ended, I sat for a while. When I opened my eyes, I was kind of seeing double. I was still shaky, and I felt a bit intoxicated. But oh, I felt joy. I felt light. I felt… my burden was gone. As if God said, of course you don’t know what to do with this burden. It’s not yours to carry! The sermon afterward felt like it was just for me, and that afternoon I got even more encouragement from talking to the pastor. God has never been so real to me as he has been since that day…

And I could finally see how God had worked everything out just perfectly. Now, Marty’s going to be medically discharged from the Army, but it wasn’t God’s will for him to deny the orders to Missouri and get out the way he wanted to. No, we had to come here. We had to come here so he could have the care he needed when he ended up in the hospital. We had to come here so we could grow in the ways we needed to grow. We had to come to this house, because otherwise we would never have gone to this tiny church in the middle of nowhere. We needed to be here, at this time, and things needed to happen in this way, and even when it was too much to handle, it was all right (and alright!) because God had things in hand. He always does.

God is the One who will never let me down. The only One I can fully trust with absolutely no doubt or fear of being let down. Because of what He has done in my life (definitely not because of what I have done), I’ve finally come to a point of what I believe is complete trust in Him. I think it will be tested, and I think I will have to really put forth effort to live out that trust when I’m tempted to worry about things, but I honestly believe that I can say that I trust him completely. With everything. And I hope to learn to keep giving over things to Him as I realize that I’m holding onto the control or worrying about the outcome. Even when my anxiety and depression tells me things are not ok, I know deep down that they are.

And I’m not sure what else I can say. I can’t make anyone else trust Him. I can’t convince you that my experiences are not just coincidental and emotional but truly spiritual. But that’s my story. And I just want to brag on my Heavenly Father and how amazing he is.

Trusting the Only One I Can Continued

Part One

I was working a part-time job which I liked, but I needed income from a full-time job. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I got a call from an office I had faxed a resume to probably six months prior, and they gave me a job with a higher hourly pay and a promise to move me up to full time after a short while. My mom, always full of faith, said it must be God. I said ok. I was excited about the prospect of having enough money to support myself and move out of my parents’ house before they moved out of state.

I believe it was the very day after I got hired that I went to Goodwill during my lunch-break with my coworker from my original job, and there I found a couch. I needed this couch. It was in great condition, and I could afford it, and I knew I could store it in my mom’s house until I moved out. I can’t remember how it worked out, but somehow or other, my parents went to look at the couch themselves. My mom told me I should pray about it. I said ok. Later that night, I was whining to her about wanting the couch and asking her to make the decision for me. Could I have it? Her answer: did you pray about it? Me: …no… I pouted and went back into my room, laid on the bed, and prayed for the first time in a long time.

I asked God… should I get the couch? What should I do? And I heard…nothing. Not that I should do nothing, but I heard no reply. I heard nothing at all. I was frustrated. I went to work the next day still frustrated and still not sure what to do. Then I got a phonecall from my mom saying that, if I liked, they could meet me at the store after work to get the couch. I agreed, and we went.

When we got to the store, however, the couch was sold. I was a little taken aback. Like… *blink blink* … ok God. No couch. That was a pretty direct answer.

I left feeling pretty good, and I started to pray more. I prayed about my new job, thanking God for it. I went to work at the new job. I hated it. Okay… but God gave it to me, right? So I prayed, and I told God it was really hard, and I didn’t know whether to quit or not, and what should I do? Should I keep it? No answer.

I went to work again, and in the middle of the day, I was fired. Umm… *blink blink* … ok, God. Thanks for that. At least I didn’t have to quit.

I stayed at my original job, and before long they bumped up my pay and my hours. Then, again, they bumped it up, and I was working full time! When it was time to move out of my parents’ house, God directed me to a really great first apartment. Based on my previous experiences, I was confident when I prayed about whether to take the apartment, even though I didn’t hear a supernatural voice saying “DO IT!” because I had begun to trust that while I was seeking His will, He wasn’t going to lead me into something contrary to it. Around this time I also finally started reading the Bible regularly again.

Fast forward some, and we get to my dear husband’s reappearance in my life. We had known each other since we were twelve, but we had never dated. When it came down to deciding to date, I took it very seriously. I had been praying for months that God would prepare me to be a good wife but also to help me be content in singleness, which was something I had never been content in. Finally, I felt content, and there came Marty, and there came a new feeling about him that was more than what I’d felt for him the previous 7 years… So I prayed about it some more. A lot more. For about 3 months straight. And I sought advice from people I trusted, godly people. I felt peace with the decision that I should go ahead. All signs pointed to yes. And so we dated, and so we married, and so we fast-forward again.

Since that point in my life, I was kind of stagnant in my spiritual life. Actually, dating and getting married hampered things because I no longer made time for prayer and the Bible. I knew I shouldn’t make my husband my “god,” but I just couldn’t seem to get my priorities straight. So I kind of stayed where I was. I had a sort of confidence that God wasn’t going to let us walk into something awful if we were seeking Him, and that was about it. Then, during Marty’s last deployment, he got orders for Fort Leonard Wood, and Marty had to extend his time in the Army in order to take the orders.

He was basically forced to stay in longer, when he had been planning to get out. And we were both like… Ummm… ok God. If you say so… Missouri, here we come.

Things have been a struggle, let me tell you. Deployment was a struggle, but I grew some… Of course, my good habits of daily Bible reading and prayer didn’t really carry over once Marty came home. Things were just too hectic. We had trips to take and packing to do and a move on the horizon, and Marty was really struggling with stuff at work. The time between his coming home and our moving was hard. Deciding to do a DITY move, having to pack up our whole house and load the moving truck and drive ourselves and our three animals to another state… Oh, and there was the struggle of trying to figure out where we could live. I tried to trust God, but it sure felt like I was doing everything. Where in the world was He, and where in the world were we going to live, and how was I supposed to have any peace when it’s weeks till the move and we still have no place to live! See, really, I wasn’t trusting God at all.