The property that we started to get excited about was one that we had actually lived on for a short time, right after we got married. It belonged to family friends. It was close to family and to the town we were eager to be part of. It had a lot of the features and elements that we were looking for and it would have left us virtually debt free. We thought it was meant to be. I had this whole “living the scriptures” thing happening in my brain where I was suddenly Abram, from Genesis, called to leave my people and go to the Promised Land (except kind of in reverse). We were hopeful, and excited. And here is where I’ll shift gears from play-by-play to summary:
it didn’t work out.
I summarize because I’m still not really sure what happened. I summarize because I don’t think that airing our dirty laundry will be helpful if it is mixed in with other people’s dirty laundry and we’re not really sure who’s clothes we are putting on the line, or who got them dirty in the first place. I will skip the details because plenty of people were hurt in the process, and relationships were strained, and I am not the only one with a perspective on the details.
Sometimes we religious folk get it in our heads that God has a certain path, or purpose, or plan for us. Sometimes, we think that he has revealed that plan to us (“God’s will”). Sometimes we are sure. There are times when that plan seems strange or counterintuitive (think Jonah) and times when it appears to be the fulfillment of years of hoping and dreaming. I was pretty certain that in this instance, I knew what The Plan was. I knew God’s Sovereign Will.
And then I didn’t.
There was a twist that we didn’t see coming and it knocked us off our feet. And not only were we left reevaluating our dreams, but there was also the added turmoil of thinking that we had been given this cosmic plan or direction and then the rug got pulled out from under us. And so you question yourself. And your neighbour. And your God. And you’re not sure you really want to move any more. You’re not sure what you are supposed to do.
We have had some things fall apart in the last few years. A church that we were part of split. The university we graduated from shut its doors. Our health unravelled for a time. Some friendships failed. Some dreams got smashed. Disillusionment settles in. Trust gets reevaluated. Distrust rises. Questions grow. Our journey has been one from certainty to uncertainty. From knowing to questioning. From faith to…more faith. You thought I was going to say from faith to doubt, didn’t you?
Anne Lamott writes, “I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything… the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.” (Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith).
Back to our story about moving: I don’t know what happened with that property. I was certain, and then I wasn’t. And there was mess and discomfort and lots of emptiness. And I’m sure I didn’t respond in all the ways that would have been best. And I’m sure I responded in some ways that were unhelpful. But I know that to at least some degree we waited, in faith, for some light to return.