At the beginning of 2019, my pastor preached a series of sermons that centered around choosing one word to cling to this year. After choosing one word, he encouraged us to choose one Bible verse, one thought, and one statement that were all tied to that one word. I like directed activity, especially as it relates to journaling and spiritual growth, so I eagerly jumped on board.
- My one word: TRUST
- My one verse: Proverbs 3:5-6
- My one thought: Trust that God has good things in store.
- My one statement: I trust that God has the perfect place for us this year.
I realize that TRUST isn’t a very original word, but after I spent some time praying and asking God to show me where I needed to grow this year, I felt that TRUST is what he was laying on my heart. And you know what I realized? I have a really hard time trusting — whether it’s people, or God, or my choices, etc etc. It is not easy for me because it requires me to relinquish control, to accept, and to live in the moment, believing in and trusting in the truth that God has designed the perfect plan for my life.
I posted last week about acknowledging our human limitations and inability to see how all of the strands of our lives come together in a unique and beautiful way — that all of the pain and joy and suffering and experiences create such an incredible design. And to acknowledge that means that we trust unfailingly in an inhuman being. And it requires conscious, directed thought and action — and, if you’re like me and struggle very much with anxiety and depression, it is going to require extra effort, in the same way that it does for me to rejoice. Both rejoice and trust are action words, and for some of us they require a bit more action, a bit more work. And you are not “broken” or less of a Christian because of it! Life on earth will be harder, sure, but God promises good things — both in the here and now and for eternity.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” | II Corinthians 4:17
As I begin to cling to my one word in January, I had no idea how it would play out in my life over the following year. Since December, I had officially been on the job market — which in Higher-Ed is at “historic lows” in terms of people actually getting jobs, especially in fields like English. It’s a grueling process, in which you spend hours putting together an application packet, submitting it, hoping for a Skype/phone interview (typically 20 or so out of the hundreds that applied will get to this point) where you answer questions for 30 minutes, and then maybe you get a campus interview (if you’re one of the 2 to 3 lucky ones). And then MAYBE, just maybe, you get a job offer. All in all from the initial application, it takes months.
Trust is definitely what I needed to actively practice. With each application I submitted I said a prayer, thanking God for the opportunity, and asking that if it was His will that I would move forward. “You lead, I follow,” I repeated more times than I can count. Sure, some places were nicer, some jobs better paying, but I’m not in this for earthly glory. I’m in this — life — to do God’s will, and that doesn’t change with a PhD.
Fast forward many months of applications and interviews and exhaustion and anxiety overload and stress and more applications and interviews, and my husband and I decided to do a week-long fast. On the first day of the fast, I received a request for an interview at a college in Georgia. By the end of the fast, I had been asked to do a campus visit. Less than a month later, and after much prayerful consideration, I accepted this position. Our house just went on the market. And this week we will be travelling to Georgia to look for housing.
I never could have predicted that I’d end up moving to Brunswick, Georgia, in any sort of permanent way. It’s where I spent the first five years of my life, where I learned to walk and swim, to read and write. It’s where a lot of my family still lives. It’s where my birth dad and mom enjoyed their too-short marriage, which was cut short when he was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. It’s where I learned very early on about life and death, and where I decided to become a Christian. It’s a place that holds so many of my most important milestones. I have roots there. And it’s where God is calling me back.
I could in no way have predicted this. But that’s trust, isn’t it? It’s not a future I ever saw for myself, but I trusted in God, expressed my unwavering decision to follow His lead. In turn, He led, and we’re following.
Trust has become an increasingly important word for me this year, and it’s incredibly humbling to witness God in action.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” | Proverbs 3:5-6
If you have a story about mental illness—whether personal or concerning a loved one—please consider sharing your experience, either by writing a guest post, or doing an interview with me. Even if you aren’t at a place yet where you feel comfortable disclosing your name, the church body needs your voice. Let’s shine a light on the darkness, together.