Our families must have thought we were crazy. Newly married with a cat to boot, my husband and I kissed them goodbye, waved out our car windows and began a trek to Kentucky that would become more than just a long drive.
Our U-haul truck was piled high with stuff we’d never need, but it was what we had. God had called us to seminary, and we were answering that call with more furniture than would ever fit in our new town home as well as the commitment to do whatever our calling meant.
Our second day of driving seemed longer than the first, and as the sun set, we found ourselves in the middle of a shortcut that turned into a bad idea. I held my breath and watched my husband in my rearview window navigate the winding, narrow mountain roads of rural Kentucky. We had veered away from our map’s directions, and I wasn’t even sure where we were. We finally pulled up to our new home much later than expected, but out of my dark window, I saw something I didn’t expect: People at the doorstep of our new home.
Students at the seminary had heard we were coming and organized a moving party for us. Forty-five minutes later, we stood on the same doorstep with everything inside and struggled through our thank you’s.
"I can’t believe you all would come out here in the cold to move us in. Especially so late!" I kept saying.
At first they smiled, shrugged as if it wasn’t a big deal, but then, one of them silenced me.
"It’s just grace. Grace."
I nodded slowly, and tried to digest this thought.
Four years later, I’m still trying to understand. But lots of things have changed. First, and maybe most significantly, my location has changed. I’m no longer in Kentucky, but in Alabama, where my husband has a degree on his wall and a job to fulfill his calling. We’ve added a baby to our family, and, as a result, the cat has begrudgingly accepted his place among us as only a pet. The stuff we took to Kentucky was whittled down to not much and now has grown again.
I’m embarrassed to say that my attitude has changed, too. I remember the day we drove away from everything familiar and embarked on our adventure. I was optimistic and excited, even in the midst of a dangerous drive through the mountains. Now, I feel like a disgruntled employee complaining in the HR office. It hasn’t been easy. We weren’t given the smoothest transition. And the end result has been confusing and less than desirable.
Is this what faithfulness is supposed to look like?
This thought built up in me over several months until one day, I snapped. Driving in the car, I broke down and screamed at God like I never have before. In all seriousness, I don’t think I’ve even screamed at a human being the way I screamed at Him. I told Him everything, and it wasn’t pretty. I reminded Him that we were faithful. But where was He? I felt like He had left us, wandering off the map, much like we were when we were on our way to Kentucky. I told Him that all we wanted to was to do His will, and now, it didn’t feel accessible.
I didn’t tell anyone about that my screams that day. It was a very real moment; one that I wasn’t sure was really holy or even OK. I had let the King of the Universe have it concerning how His plan for my life was going. And I wasn’t even sorry. Being faithful didn’t turn out to be romantic, like it had been portrayed in my spiritual heros’ lives or Christian email forwards. My faithfulness had been full of tears, questions, and loneliness.
A few days later, I began to think about my present situation and how Jesus may have felt in His own faithfulness. Coming from His home in heaven, this earth had to be incredibly uncomfortable. The friends He had weren’t the best. And His greatest efforts to love and give were rejected or mistaken for heresy. His moment in the Garden of Gesthemane may have looked a little like my ranting drive that day — full of pleas to let the cup pass and tears of fear and sadness. His faithfulness hurt, both physically and emotionally. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was the hardest thing any human being has done. Maybe He even questioned if the end result would be worth it.
Today, I find comfort in remembering Jesus’ struggle through faithfulness. It didn’t all go well for Him. And every time things don’t go my way or are harder than before, I recall Philippians 3:10 where Paul says, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain the resurrection from the dead."
I am holding fast to this promise that I am sharing in His sufferings these days. Because really, it hasn’t gotten easier, but I am telling myself that it’s OK—it’s not about me. It’s about Christ. His will for me may look confusing, jumbled, and like a wandering road through nowhere, but I am trusting that while I journey, there is grace and the promise that I’ll find Someone who’s been there before waiting on my doorstep.