My last installment of Wednesday Wrestling comes from my friend Mary Evelyn Smith, a blogger whose writing often invites both laughter and contemplation. I always know that a new post from Mary Evelyn will lift my spirits, but mostly what I appreciate is how her authenticity shines through. She always tackles difficult topics with honesty, thought, and grace. Today Mary Evelyn brings us a gift as we make our way out of Lent and into the beauty of Easter.
“I feel guilty…I haven’t prayed in weeks.”
The words were a lie, of course—not the part about praying but the part about feeling. I didn’t feel guilty. I didn’t feel anything really, but I figured that I ought to feel something and pretending to feel bad seemed like a good start. Only it wasn’t. Because I didn’t—feel bad, that is.
Here is what I know: two years ago, my son was diagnosed with an irreparable disability and the truth of this has slowly altered my already feeble faith. My footing is unsure and my confidence is frail. I want to trust. I want to look my son in the eye and tell him that God will protect him from harm—but I know it isn’t true.
What once was comfort is now confusion. I hear the story of the blind man and wrestle with doubt. I read of the paralytic and wrestle with envy. I struggle with the very idea of healing when I see that my child, and each of us, is a creature of our earthly habitat—prone to the same brokenness and decay as the immovable oak rising just outside my kitchen window. Still beautiful, still worthy of sunlight, still rejoicing—yet bending to the breeze.
For a time, I wrestled with this evolving faith. I used to chase it through the waters. I used to pin it to the murky ground, my arms shaky from exhaustion, my knees bent and steady. But my faith was slippery. It twisted and flopped, writhing and spinning, escaping my grasp to slip soundlessly into the deep. My faith was the one that got away. And I would hold my hands wide apart and tell you it was “this big.”
You should have seen it.
But it did me no good and I sank under the crushing disappointment. I had sought faith like the fisherman’s wife—believing that if I could only net it, could hold it fast, then it would grant me three wishes. Wishes for my son. Wishes for my self. Wishes for calmer seas ahead. I confused my faith with my God. I hunted it with an angry fervor but in the fray I abandoned the very Maker of faith and fish and unruffled seas. And so today, I find myself resigned.
I am wrestling with not wrestling. I am releasing my faith, choosing rather to rest in the uncatchable nature of the One who is as transcendent as the ocean itself. The One who covers Himself—and every living thing—with light, as with a garment.
What do you do when your wrestling stops? When you lie quiet and unmoving beside the stream? When the clamor of your teeming questions is silenced and the shouts of your protestors grow hushed? What then? Like the poet has written— then I will observe a spear of summer grass. I will lean and loaf and invite my soul. I will be still and know that perhaps my faith is not the one that got away—though it is something smaller and finer than before.
Perhaps it is a minnow.
Perhaps it is a mustard seed.
Perhaps it is lively, still.
Mary Evelyn Smith is a Children’s Librarian and blogger living in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and her bespectacled toddler. She writes about life, laughs, and (not so) perfect parenting at www.whatdoyoudodear.com. Follow her on Twitter at @WhatDoYouDoDear.