This that I am about to write is so honest, so real, and in fact, I’m not quite sure I should share it with you. I want to start out by saying that I am not the person to come to for advice on faith, life, in fact, I’d probably come to myself last for advice on anything. But with all of this being stated out front, I’m going to do the one thing I never thought I’d ever do. So hold on, I’m not quite sure where this is going to go.
Growing up, I was always inside a church, somewhere. Whether it be church with my parents or grandparents or friends, I was always there. This didn’t change a bit either when my parents got divorced, in fact, I believe we ended up in church more after that point. Both of my parents made sure I knew about God and grew up knowing what a church is. I learned all about Jesus, the 12 disciples, Adam and Eve, Jonah, David, Abraham, Moses, The Ten Commandments, etc. But most importantly, I learned about God’s love for His children and His unwavering mercy toward each of us. It was nothing that I ever struggled with growing up, I just knew it was real.
And I still know that its real. But I, nonetheless, have had hard, trying times and have struggled in my faith. I kinda feel like April Kepner during this last season of Grey’s Anatomy. If you watch the show then you see she struggles with her faith after Matthew, her former fiancé, loses his wife due to some complication after giving birth, but she eventually finds her way back to God before the end of the season. (I know this is probably some terrible analogy, because Grey’s is definitely fiction and all Hollywood, but just hang with me.)
I will say that over the last 3 years of my life, I’ve hit some major highs and some serious lows. When I first moved out on my own, I found it extremely difficult to find a church in Oxford that felt like MY church, not that anyone made me feel unwelcome, but they never felt like home. And I worked almost every single Sunday, which didn’t help things. But I cannot blame anyone but myself for my lack of church during my time in Oxford. And I’ve come to realize that during this time, I let the devil win more times than not. I struggled with making decisions for myself, for having the faith that I needed to realize that God had a plan for me, but it was HIS plan and not mine. One thing that anyone close to me will tell you, she is a planner. I don’t have a planner to write it all down, but I had a plan for my life. I’d be married by 21/22, have a flourishing career by 24, be a mother to some awesome kids by 27, etc. (We can all laugh now because well, life isn’t going quite like that.)
Well, during most of my time in Oxford, I never felt so alone, especially during my first year there. I was 20, had no plans to ever marry because I couldn’t find someone that I had that connection with, most of my friends had gone to different areas for school, and I struggle with making new friends (I have a hard time opening up and letting others in). I had the hardest time because I felt as if God just left me in pain and agony. And during this time, I found a Bible verse that has become my favorite.
“I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord.” -Isaiah 66:9.
Although school and work were going fine, I felt myself falling into more and more pain, and I remember just clinging to this verse, hoping and praying that I could handle the pain long enough for the new to come. I knew deep, deep down that God was doing something to me. He was working on me. And then, I finally met Catherine, who is now like my sister from another mister.
I will say she was the main reason I stayed in Oxford and finished school because before I met her, I was seriously considering withdrawing and moving back home. I remember praying for weeks to God for someone to come and impact my life in some way, make me feel as if I’m needed or in fact wanted. So that’s how Catherine plays into my story. She introduced me to so many of my friends and I’ll never be able to thank her. And things got back on the up and up for me. I was happier, I was actually enjoying myself and my time in Oxford. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I wish I could move back. And then I met Chase.
Oh Chase, how do I even begin to describe the impact that he has had on me? Let’s just say that He has helped me to see that I can be loved in the romantic sense. He even made me see that I can and I am capable of loving another human being so much more deeply than I ever thought possible. And I won’t go into the mushy gushy of our relationship because not everything should be displayed, but I will say that my relationship is one of the best things I’ve ever had the privilege of experiencing.
With all that being said, I will say that I know God sent those people to me. God was always there hearing my prayers, watching me the nights I cried in my bed alone, the days I honestly saw no point of going on, He was there. And He’s still there with me now. Because let me say, when I graduated from college and moved back home, its been an even bigger challenge than when I left home. I’ve struggled with my career, because let me be honest, it isn’t what I thought I’d be doing being that it has absolutely nothing to do with my degree that I worked so hard for. I’ve struggled with feeling isolated, again because although I have some many family members living here, its still hard when you don’t have friends near that you can see and talk to regularly. Chase and I have both struggled with understanding why God placed us here because although my hometown is a good place, it just is not where either of us want to stay. I struggle with where Chase and I are in our relationship because I’m constantly asked, “When are y’all getting married?” Ummm, we’re not even engaged, which I want, and that is another story for another day, but I can say that I feel God with me every step of the way during this crazy life. Although I sometimes lose my footing and I get angry, He never leaves me, and He somehow calls me back to Him.
“At the end of the day, faith is a funny thing. It turns up when you don’t really expect it. Its like one day you realize that the fairytale may be slightly different than you dreamed. The castle? Well, it may not be a castle. And its not so important happy ever after, just that its happy right now.” – Grey’s Anatomy