Over the past two weeks, I have been asked to reflect over my experience thus far in my unit of CPE (clinical pastoral education). It was quite a task. Especially since we were asked to come up with a metaphor for our CPE experience. I'm not an English person to start with (give me a math or science class but please not English or history). So after racking my brain I came up with the metaphor of a mirror. In the past seven weeks of CPE, I have had the opportunity to see myself in a brand new light. I have learned about myself on a personal level as well as a spiritual level. During our discussion yesterday, I was asked how this experience has caused me to analyze my faith. I think that my exploration of my faith started when I started facing infertility and chronic illness (and the CPE experience has only caused me to explore it further). How does my experience affect my faith? How is my picture of God affected by my faith and by my experiences? As I continue to reflect on these things on my drive home from the hospital, I listened to a song by Barlow Girl called "I Believe in Love" and it blended so beautifully with what I was thinking and feeling.
The song begins with these words How long will my prayers seem unanswered? Is there still faith in me to reach the end? I'm feeling doubt I'm losing faith But giving up would cost me everything So I'll stand in the pain and silence And I'll speak to the dark night
As I began my journey with chronic illness (which was later joined by infertility) I asked these same questions. Where was God in my time of need? Was He punishing me? Where is God's will in my illness? These questions haunted my thoughts. And then I felt guilty for even asking them. Where was my faith if I questioned? Was I sick because my faith wasn't strong enough? Was my worry and fear a sign that I didn't trust God or didn't believe? When I voiced my concerns, they were usually met with responses such as "God is trying to teach you something," or "Pray harder," or "It's just God's will."
These answers provided little comfort (and mostly hurt) so I began a spiritual journey for answers and came to a conclusion I believe in the sun even when it's not shining I believe in love even when I don't feel it And I believe in God even when He is silent And I, I believe
I learned that I can still believe even if I don't have answers and it's ok. I can trust God and trust that He is working in my life and still not understand what is going on or where He is in it.
Though I can't see my stories ending That doesn't mean the dark night has no end It's only here that I find faith And learn to trust the one who writes my days
I think that one of the toughest questions I had to answer for myself was "Did God cause this?" Did God look down from His throne and pick me out to suffer? For me, to say yes to this question was also saying yes that God destined a baby to be aborted, or a child to be molested, or a new mother to die of cancer. It just didn't fit with the character of the God I serve. In some cases, we are given free will and therefore our choices impact our future (such as making the choice to smoke and then developing lung cancer).I think sometimes things just happen. In others, I think things just happen. Period. And what follows was a profound statement for me personally: We have a choice of what we do with our circumstances. I can choose to be bitter, angry, and depressed over my illness (and believe me I've had my moments of all three) or I can choose to allow God to be glorified through it by using my story to help encourage and support others. I don't know how my story is going to end. I don't know what the outcome of my doctor's appointment Monday will be. But that doesn't mean that God isn't working. Just as the last line of this verse states, I am learning to trust the One who writes my days. And trusting is a choice. Believing is a choice. And I believe that it is a choice that must be made on a daily basis (or hourly or every 10 minutes depending on the situation).
So when the times are hard and I can't seem to see past my own pain, these words become the cry of my heart I believe in the sun even when it's not shining I believe in love even when I don't feel it And I believe in God even when He is silent And I, I believe. I believe