On June 23, 2015, I signed my name and accepted the terms of employment.
I signed my name and accepted, or maybe declared, the conclusion of a season.
365. That’s how many days were in the last year. It felt like forever. It feels like no time at all.
I can’t put words to it really—to the last year of my life. When I try, my eyes fill with tears that are mostly grateful and only a little bewildered. But I want to look back and remember. I want to stand still and enjoy. I want to look forward and anticipate. I want to remember how faithful the Lord was even when I couldn’t see it.
I want to remember that He remembers.
One year ago, on June 24, 2014, I sat in my car, and I thought every part of my life was falling into place. I was in the parking lot of a gift shop to pick up a present for the parents of a man I believed I would marry, of a man who said that he believed he would marry me. I had just led the first small group of a Bible study that I’d spent the previous three years of my life dreaming about and the previous nine months writing. All that work sat spiral-bound beside me in the passenger seat—a dream seen through to paper and ink. I was talking on the phone about a possible job opportunity. What I had been doing had wrapped up in May, and I was curious about what was next. Not anxious, just not sure. And this new possibility seemed like it might be the answer, seemed like it might have God’s hand on it.
The twenty-eight year old who stepped out of the car on June 24, who glanced over at that printed Bible study with my very own name on it, who walked into that store to buy a gift for a family I believed would one day be my own, who hung up the phone with hopeful curiosity about the future…
That twenty-eight year old? Well, she felt very old, but she seems so young to this now-twenty-nine year old.
Within ten days, I was in bed with mono, sicker than I had been in my entire life (my mom has confirmed this). I missed most of the Bible study meetings I’d planned to attend, and I struggled through the ones I led, willing myself to be well long before I was. By the middle of July, it became clear that the job would not be mine. By the middle of August, it was clear that the man wasn’t to be mine either.
It is very hard to make sense of so many almosts. I know that there are worse things happening in this world, but these were my trials, and they were hard enough to break my heart and to fade my dreams and to come after my faith and my hope.
The summer left me weary well into the fall. The winter was quiet. It was like God had gone silent, like He was standing perfectly still. I needed Him more than I ever had. I could not sense His presence at all. I knew He was real. I knew He was near. But I could not feel Him. At some point God’s inactivity became even harder to bear than the chaotic losses of summer.
That was the hardest thing of all—the seeming gone-ness of the God I loved.
Sometime in February, I read these verses in Isaiah and for the first time in what felt like forever, I remembered that the Word of God is living and active:
“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
‘In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’
But you were unwilling, and you said,
‘No! We will flee upon horses’;
therefore you shall flee away;
and, ‘We will ride upon swift steeds’;
therefore your pursuers shall be swift.” (Isaiah 30:15-16)
Returning. Rest. Quietness. Trust.
A little piece of me relaxed. I stopped trying to figure it all out and just let it be still. I finished grad school. I volunteered. I spent time with friends. I made a list of thirty things I wanted to do before I was thirty. I started doing them. I laughed long and hard. I had days of stupid, mindless fun. I remembered what it felt like to be me.
Here is the beautiful thing about our God: His faithfulness doesn’t hinge upon our ability to have faith. His goodness isn’t contingent upon our ability to identify it.
I kept thinking God was going to show up with purpose and meaning. He kept letting me catch fleeting glimpse of Him in quiet coffees and easy conversations and even in the most cliché things like fresh flowers and sunrises out my bedroom window.
And I started to recognize Him again in the stillness. In April, I read verse 18 of that same chapter of Isaiah:
“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 30:18)
Blessed are all those who wait for Him.
I hadn’t known what I was waiting for. A job? A husband? A family? An opportunity? To write? All of those things still sounded good but they had lost their luster. I had trouble getting exciting about the prospect of any of them.
But Him? Maybe I was waiting for Him. Yes. Maybe. Impatiently. Imperfectly. Without much hope. Without much trust. But waiting nonetheless. Mostly because I didn’t know what other option I had.
I watched Him move in the lives of those around me, and it made me bolder. It also made me just a little bit mad, just a little bit desperate. I don’t know how much longer I can wait for You, Lord. I just need to know You still see me. I need to know You can still find me. I need to know You will still move on my behalf.
And I need it not to be hypothetical. I need to know I haven’t imagined it.
I need something I can point to. I need a way forward.
And He moved. He provided. With something I can see. With something I cannot deny or explain away. With a job I hadn’t even known how to ask for.
With a tangible end to a season I’d feared might last forever.
I’m not placing an undue burden on this new job. I know it won’t be perfect. I don’t need for it to be. I’m not making this job an idol. I’m not looking to it for my peace or security. This job is a memorial stone shot straight up out of a year of sandy desert. And I will stand beside this stone, and I will worship my God.
I want to remember Him here–
He still sees me.
He still remembers.
He still moves on my behalf.
As I stand beside this stone and glance back over the past 365 days, I can see what I couldn’t see at the time. I didn’t know where God was at the time. But I can see Him now, looking back.
Oh, my faith faltered and fumbled. But God is faithful even when we are not convinced of it.
So I stand beside this stone and look back on a year that I still cannot explain–a year that I did not expect. But I see the faithfulness of God from here. I see His faithfulness all along the way.
And as I ready myself for the next step forward, I realize that I don’t really know what to expect. I also realize that’s probably best.
Oh, Lord, may we keep learning to trust You. May we wait on You. May we lean hard against the Unseen as we journey the distance between the stones. And when we come to a moment when You make Yourself known in an undeniable way, may we take the time to stand beside the stone and remember.
What I want to remember is You.
[I’ll post again with details about the job, but I can’t fit everything into one blog post. I’m already impressed that you made it this far!]