A few days ago I had two conversations that helped me see what has changed in my spiritual life recently. In the first conversation, I spoke with a young woman who has just moved to Greece and has decided to try to get a visa to stay. I had to bite my tongue in order not to douse her excitement with “yeah, I thought that too” cynicism. Later, I spoke with a woman who spent the summer in the same situation I did, waiting for a visa that didn’t work out. It was hugely encouraging to not feel alone, to vent and laugh together over our mutual frustrations.
In the midst of these conversations, I realized that this visa process cost me my spiritual naivety. Because my initial student visa was easy to get, I assumed that everything would work out for me if I kept living in Greece. God wanted me here, so paperwork couldn’t get in the way, right? Yes, it could. Now, as I look ahead to a job that hinges upon 1) fundraising and 2) a visa, I find myself incredibly lethargic. Where I once met these obstacles with excitement, now I’m exhausted.
But what hit me was this: faith is not the absence of doubt, it’s believing in the midst of doubt (in much the same way courage is not the absence of fear, it’s acting in the midst of fear). After all, it doesn’t take much faith to naively assume everything will work out for me. To see my plans fail and then to attempt something similar…that takes a different kind of faith. Something deeper, and less flashy, and more painful, but something that rests upon a more desperate hope and trust. God took my life in an unexpected direction before…do I trust him enough to try something risky once again?
The older I get, the more I realize that my relationship with God is far more boring than anything I originally experienced. This year I’ve felt pretty emotionally distanced from him. But I think there’s something really beautiful about every little connection we’ve had, because I don’t take them for granted any more. I’m no longer seeking youth group conferences of ecstatic emotionalism. I just want a quiet, heavy moment of assurance that I am loved and that God has a plan for me. I had one of those during my conversations, and it helped me to choose faith, in the midst of doubt, once more.