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Faith is a choice: Letting Go and Embracing Trust

Faith is a choice. When we choose to have faith, even when we can’t feel God near, we’re better able to cope with the stress and trials of life.

I’m going to begin by stating that this is a very vulnerable post, for me. Maybe for you. I don’t know. If you’ve been in my situation before, you might get it. If you know me, you may be surprised by what I am revealing here. I haven’t disclosed a lot about what Scott and I have been going through because I’ve been embarrassed— embarrassed by our choices, embarrassed by my reactions, embarrassed by my feelings. But I feel the need—the prompting—to write it, to share it

Before I begin, this post isn’t a “woe is me” story. I find writing to be healing—always have. That’s why I have embraced it. That’s why I find joy in it, whether through writing fiction or nonfiction. I’m writing this because in the midst, or really at the cusp of my trial, I feel compelled to share, for me, and maybe for someone else who needs to hear my story, to be uplifted, to know that God is good, that He loves you, and He wants everything good for you. My purpose for writing this is to show that faith is a choice, and we can better see God in our lives when we make that choice.

So let’s start. Hold on. This may be a long post, because this has been a long journey.

The Beginning—It’s starts with the Pandemic

In 2020, everyone was going through something because that is what the pandemic did to us. It made us experience things we didn’t expect.

When the pandemic hit, I was living alone—with my dog—in an apartment in Draper, Utah. My husband was in Afghanistan on deployment with a company that contracted with the United States Air Force. He was only supposed to be gone for a year. That was the agreement. So he was supposed to be home in June of 2020.

However, with the pandemic being so global, Scott was unable to leave the country. He stayed and stayed and stayed. We had no idea how long it would be before he would be able to come home.

With my lease ending in May, I decided to move in with my parents. That meant putting most of my belongings in storage and moving to Henderson, Nevada. This was okay. I had lived with my parents the year before when Scott was deployed with the Air Force National Guard to Kuwait. And after being alone in my apartment for a few months, it would be nice to be around family as we experienced this pandemic phenomenon.

However, this move made Scott and I question all the possible plans we had discussed prior. And we began to wonder: Where should we live? Do we stay in Nevada close to my family? Or do we move back to Utah? Or do we go somewhere else? We could go anywhere. Where would we like to go? Is there a place God would like us to go?

Following a Prompting

It was during this time that Scott was working with a crew deployed out of Arkansas. As he got to know the crew members, he learned about the cheap land in their state (much cheaper than our home state of Utah) and started to web search lots and acreage in Arkansas. He brought the idea of land in Arkansas up during one of our nightly Skype calls. He was so excited to show me what he had found. And I’ll be honest, it looked awesome!

I have never been interested in having land. Our entire marriage, Scott has wanted at least five acres, and I have turned him down. But suddenly land sounded so good and exciting. Could we get the land in Utah, close to our families? Not for the same price point as in Arkansas. But was Arkansas the right place? What about Missouri? I have a friend who moved there some years before, and she seemed to love it. Would we?

During our conversation, Scott said something that pierced my heart—in a good way. I won’t say what it was, because it is sacred and I don’t think meant to be shared in this space. But it made me tear up, knowing how good and wonderful my husband is, and feeling the spirit whisper something important to me.

We decided to fast and pray to know if we should move to Missouri. And as we did, we both received a strong prompting to make the move.

But where on Missouri?

Expecting All Good Things

I thought we would move more west, closer to my friend. But Scott found a job in Columbia—Mid-Missouri. During this time of many decisions, we tried to pay close attention to our feelings and the spirit. Scott took the job—doing something he had never done before—and we trusted that we were moving to the right place.

My hope through all of this was that we would buy a house. Scott was making really good money in Afghanistan, and his pay would change drastically when he returned home. I wanted to get a house while he was gone so that we could qualify much easier than when he changed jobs. So the search commenced. And we found a fixer-upper in little Fulton, a small town about 30 minutes east of Columbia and about the same distance from Jefferson City.

The house needed a lot of work. But it was promising, and on 10 acres, with a 3-acre pond. Our dreams went wild with this place. We would clean up the pond, build a little pond house with shipping containers, plant a garden, build a greenhouse, plant an orchard, get bunnies, get bees, get chickens. . . . So many dreams.

But, the work. And the stark differences of living in the country in central Missouri. We were not prepared, at all.

The Lord would provide, right? We had faith, trust, hope, and a dream. And Scott was finally coming home!

Making the move

The troubles started before we got to our new home. Not disclosed to us, the furnace needed to be replaced. And the property did not have a gas tank (for those who don’t know, many rural homes in Missouri have a propane tank on the property that you fill from time to time to heat your home and supply any gas appliances).

I wasn’t too worried. While I was in Missouri for closing on the house, I was able to get a tank on the property. And I made arrangements with my local ecclesiastical leader to watch the home and help me install a furnace.

Scott arrived home from Afghanistan a month after I purchased the property. And we had to move fast to get to our new home. We had a day or two together and then off we went. First stop: Utah to get all our stuff out of storage. And then on to our home in Missouri.

I was so excited for Scott to see our home. I felt like it was a wonderland surrounded in trees and nature. But his reaction was a little disappointing. I don’t think he realized how much of a fixer-upper it was.

Welcome to Our Home of Troubles

We moved into our new home a week before Thanksgiving and were thrust in the midst of holiday endeavors right away. And we wanted to participate as we hadn’t spent holidays together for two years.

During this time, our fridge broke. It was not cold at all. We tried to call a repair company to come fix it, but no one would pick up the phone or return our phone calls. We needed cold food so we decided to purchase a fridge. But the one we wanted—like many others during the time—was on back-order and would not be delivered until mid-January—thank you, pandemic. In the meantime, we bought a mini fridge and stuffed it full of food.

On top of the fridge situation, I got bites all over my legs and arms and couldn’t figure out where they were coming from, but they itched like crazy. And then Obi, our dog, jumped into the glass screen door and injured his neck so bad that we had to take him to the vet. This may have been a blessing in disguise because it was also how we found out that Obi had fleas, and those fleas were also biting me when I cuddled with the pup. We had never dealt with fleas before as Utah doesn’t get a lot of them.

Despite a rough few weeks after we moved in, we were still pretty happy. A little frustrated, but happy, because we were together. And we had hope for our little piece of land.

However, things were about to get even more crazy, leading to heartache and disappointment.

Business Dreams and Working Hard

Even though Scott had a job lined up, he couldn’t start right away. He had to do some training and certification first. So he worked on the training when he could, and I worked on yoga and writing. Plus, we had a podcast we had started while Scott was deployed along with a brand we maintained together.

One day after a time studying, Scott came to me and said he didn’t want to do this job. He had been thinking that he would like to make our brand into a true business.

I was excited as I had hoped this would happen one day. I wanted to work with Scott. And I was excited about the possibilities of our podcast and brand.

So, we decided to take the leap. We brainstormed and came up with a few products that we hoped would sell and put us on a path to success.

For months, we worked. We started one product. It didn’t launch as well as we had hoped, but that didn’t stop us. We kept going, adding another product that looked exciting and hopeful. It would help support and promote other small businesses and creatives.

What happens when you hope so much for something that fails?

We put a lot of effort into our product and spent a little money to make sure we provided quality pieces in it.

And then launch day came.

And went.

We only had two buyers.

And we were spending money on advertising.

But nothing.

We had a cutoff date. We had to as we were running out of money—our savings.

With all the promotions and advertising and hope, nothing was working the way we had planned. And in the end, in order to survive, we had to shut our little business down. We had to close up websites and advertisements and so many things to make sure we weren’t spending where we couldn’t afford.

But now what?

Trials, Testing of Faith, Frustration, Anger

We had prayed about starting this business. We felt good about it. So why didn’t it work out?

We were frustrated, confused, heartbroken. And, honestly, angry. I had put my faith in this idea. And it failed. Why did it fail, why didn’t we have more help? Why didn’t our friends support us, why didn’t the small businesses we were promoting do more to support us? We kept asking: Why, why, why? In my anger, I looked to place the blame anywhere I could—anywhere but where it truly belonged.

Job Searches

Scott started driving Uber to get some extra money. We both started looking for jobs. And I found out I was pregnant. The happiest moment in the midst of so much hurt and anxiety—a miracle, really, as we had been trying for years. But how would we support our baby?

In time, Scott was able to get a job. It paid way less than we were used to, but it was a job.

A job for me was a completely different story. I searched for a job, but I wasn’t happy about it. A few years prior, I had suffered horrible anxiety because of the stresses of my corporate job. Even though I had done a lot of healing since I quit, I was scared to go back to a possibly stressful corporate environment.

I tried to have faith that a corporate job might be the right thing. I had a few possible job opportunities come about that I actually hoped for and thought I was a shoe-in. But they fell through so quickly.

And then there was the pregnancy brain. It was strong. And it was so hard to concentrate. During my first trimester I received a freelance opportunity writing copy for a website. It was one of the hardest writing projects I have ever undertaken. Not because of the content, although that was frustrating as well for client reasons, but because I had such a hard time concentrating on the work. I felt I was pushing words out of my brain like you might picture goo sliding through the holes of a colander.

Losing Site of Dreams

One reason I was angry about finding a job was because I felt I would be giving up on my dreams. I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom who did my own work, like writing or yoga.

I had my yoga practice—I had been teaching yoga online this entire time to a small group. But I ended up putting the practice on hold as I wasn’t feeling well from pregnancy and I injured my groin and could barely move my lower half without a lot of pain.

As I continued to look for a job and as I watched our bank account scream for help, I wondered if I was meant to go for my dreams or if I was destined to follow the Joneses.

Piling Debt and Anger

Before Scott and I moved to Missouri, we had very little debt. But suddenly, the debt was piling up. And Scott’s job didn’t pay enough.

With a baby on the way—finally coming after years of trying—and things falling apart in our home (did I mention the basement leaked and the foundation wall started to cave in a little more?) and little money coming in and expenses to take care of and so many things, I was full of anxiety on an almost daily basis.

And I was angry. I was hurt. And I didn’t believe in myself anymore—that I could truly receive answers from God, that I was worth the effort to receive answers. I questioned whether God really loved me and why we ever moved to Missouri. And I cried that I followed a prompting and then everything went wrong. Why wasn’t it working out for our good? Why wasn’t God helping us through this mess?

Trying to Remain Faithful

Faith is a choice

I think during this time, Scott and I could have easily left our church and turned from God. We were hurting that much. But we chose not to. We chose to remember times when we had felt God’s love and when we had received answers. We still questioned our ability to receive answers, but there are certain things that have happened in our lives that we cannot not deny. And we chose to remember and believe them.

Faith is action

As part of my choice to remain faithful, or try to be faithful, I worked on my spirituality as best I could. I read scriptures, I prayed, and I journaled. Those things helped ease the anxiety and gave me some hope to keep going.

I was still angry, but I was trying not to be. I was still confused, but I was trying to put my trust in God.

But we were blessed. I can’t deny that we were blessed. Even though our trials didn’t cease, we had amazing angels in our lives who helped ease some of the burdens. My parents helped us out where they could. A friend helped us with some duct work to better heat our home. We received assistance from the church with food a couple times. An outpouring of love from others helped us feel important and loved.

I gave birth to our miracle baby. And she was and is a light that I have truly needed.

And then Scott received a new job, but in Pittsburgh.

To Sell or Not to sell?

I had so many mixed feelings about Scott getting a job so far away—a job that required us to move from this home that I had so many dreams for, but also had a lot of frustration with.

Our Missouri home held so much heartache, so much disappointment, so many memories of pain. But there was still something magical about the place that I didn’t want to give up.

We had a month to move, and I was not happy about it. I am sure Scott wondered what had happened to his wife. I was not the easiest person to be around, constantly crying and worrying and complaining.

When we first started making plans to move, we made the decision to sell the house. I invited our realtor over and we walked through the house while she told me things we needed to fix before we could get pictures and list it. I felt a sick feeling in my stomach. Something didn’t feel right.

I mentioned to the realtor that we were hoping to come back to Missouri one day and she replied, “Why don’t you just rent out the house then?”

Lightbulb! Of course.

Leaving Our Missouri Home

When I told Scott, I think he was a little hesitant as the house held so many negative feelings for him too. But he agreed and we got a property management company to help us with the rental details.

Then came all the packing. I feel like I have been a pretty organized mover in the past—we’ve moved a lot in our almost 11 years of marriage. But this time, moving was so rough. I had a baby to take care of, walls to paint, and a lot of packing to do. When moving day came, I still had things to box up and take off walls. I was embarrassed by how unprepared I felt. Luckily, we have amazing friends who helped us get everything done.

And off we set to Pittsburgh.

You Can’t Run Away from Trials

Trials follow you. They don’t just vanish, as much as we would like them to. And sometimes things have to get more frustrating (not always necessarily worse) before they start to get better.

We had a little house waiting for us in Pittsburgh. It is quaint, older, and doesn’t have a ton of bathroom or kitchen space, but we knew we could make it work. And everything was ready for us to move in, just in time for Scott to start his new job the next day.

Scott was just waiting for a call to give him all the information about going in to work. But when the call came, he was told, “No work today. It’s a holiday.” It was Memorial Day. And we had questioned starting on a holiday before we came, but we were told that it was the start date over and over.

Waiting for Work and biting our nails

The next day, Scott was told that he still couldn’t start work. I don’t remember all the details. He had to wait for certain things to line up. And they weren’t lining up fast enough.

Scott didn’t start work for three weeks.

That meant three weeks with no income.

And we had things to pay and buy: rent, mortgage (we didn’t yet have renters in our Missouri home), food, and other bills.

Oh, how my faith and patience were being tested. Choosing faith was truly hard.

But somehow—not really, somehow but with God—we got through it. We are getting through it.

Letting Go and Embracing Trust

After all these experiences and disappointments and frustrations, my faith was really struggling. I was hurting. Even now, as I write this, I can so easily remember those feelings. They weren’t long ago, after all. And I’m still healing from them.

I’m working to remember that faith is a choice. I have done my best to do the seemingly small but super important things God asks us to do—pray, read scriptures, go to church, serve. Even though I was hurting and angry (yes, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I was angry with God), I found comfort in the scriptures. I found words to ease my heart for even just a little while.

Choosing Faith

Praying has not been easy. Yes, my predictable schedule has been interrupted by an unpredictable baby. Yes, my life has been uprooted by huge life changes. But sometimes I hid from God by not praying. Sometimes I felt that God didn’t care about me—that I wasn’t one of the important sheep, just an easily forgotten lamb. Sometimes I felt I wasn’t worth receiving answers and blessings.

It’s been a journey to overcome those feelings. I have had to push forward, to choose to want a relationship with God. I have had to choose faith, even when I didn’t want to, even when my hope was thin.

How am I getting through this time? Scott. Berkley. God. I remember that faith is a choice. Even though I can’t always feel God, He is always here.

What I’ve Learned/Am Learning: Again, Faith Is a Choice

I’ve had a lot of self-reflection and learned that my anger stemmed from wanting to have full control over my life. But life doesn’t work that way. We are in very little control. What we do control: How we act and react and make choices. I’ve learned that I need to let go and let God take the wheel. I need to trust Him, especially when I can’t see what’s in front of me.

My trial is not over yet. There is a lot more to the story that I haven’t told—other smaller trials that have brought up more pain and questioning. We still haven’t climbed completely out of our hole. But we’re working on it. And we feel God by our side.

What I’ve learned: When I choose to have faith, even when I can’t feel God near, I’m better able to cope with the stress. And, I’m better able to recognize all the thins I have to be grateful for. God really is good.

Remembering Who I Am

I’m trying to remember that I am a divine being, a daughter of God. I have and feel His love. I have seen miracles. And I have experienced happiness even in the midst of trial.

If you get anything out of this very long post, I hope it’s that faith is a choice, and faith is letting go. Whatever you’re going through, He loves you. You’re not alone: You are worth more than all the treasures of the earth. You are a divine being who can receive blessings and answers. And you are worth more than you can imagine.

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