During Christian Education at camp one day the children were asked to write a letter to God, thanking him for all the things they were grateful for. It was the one activity with my kids I remember passing up (besides swimming three times a day). It wasn't that I didn't want to write it, I just knew that I had a lot more to talk to God about, a lot more to work out in my head, and a lot I was still so unsure of. I am not a person to whom faith comes easily, but I also believe that nothing worthwhile comes easily. I had a lot I needed to get off my chest and that letter seemed like the perfect place...so I wrote it while watching the kids at the pool. I wasn't going to share my letter, but looking over it, I realized that I may not be the only one asking these questions and facing these problems. Here it is:
I know I have a lot to be grateful for, but it's hard to know where to turn when my faith journey has been so rocky...faith just doesn't come easily to me. It never has, and sometimes I feel like the harder I pray and the times I need help the most are the times my prayers go unanswered. Maybe you ARE there guiding me, maybe there IS a reason, maybe you're preparing me for something wonderful. I just don't know how to build a relationship with you, and sometimes I'm not even sure I'm ready...but I think I am.
Lately I've started to differentiate between "knowing" and "believing". I know that life has thrown me obstacles I thought were nearly impossible to overcome. I know that after overcoming those obstacles I felt close to you for the first time. The trouble is believing that you are there for me, that you will stand by me through the good times and the bad.
I keep asking why. Why me? Why do you let me suffer through the pain and self-doubt? Why am I here? I have to wonder if someday everything will make sense, if all this suffering leads to happiness and clarity. I wonder what role the people in my life play and whether or not they're here to stay. I have so much love in my heart and sometimes I wonder if I've given it all away. I don't know how to save some of that love for myself, to learn how to love myself when I know who I want to be and what I want to believe...but I don't believe that she exists in me.
There are times when I feel like there is so little in life that I truly believe. I believe in beauty, in the little things, in the validity of both logic and emotion, in love...even if sometimes I don't believe in them for myself. I feel so weak and helpless, and sometimes I wonder if I need to redefine strength. Maybe I see weakness in the things I cannot change when I should be looking for strength in the things that I can. But how do I do that? How do I teach myself to "believe" without undermining the way I "feel"?
I have a thousand questions, a thousand doubts, a thousand emotions. And then I wonder...Why is there a smile on my face when there aren't tears in my eyes? Why is there always hope when I don't feel hopeless? Why are there always people when I'm not alone? Will I ever use that knowledge to heal rather than escape? I always ask you for strength, but this time I'm asking for a different kind of strength...the strength to live life to its fullest and live without regrets, to let go but love the memories, and to open my heart and mind to change.