I have always considered myself a faithful person, but I don’t think it was until this year, at 25 years old, that I began to truly understand what faith is.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. describes faith as “taking the first step even though you can’t see the whole staircase.”
I’ve always had this basic understanding that faith is believing in what you can’t see and trusting in God’s plan for your life. As an adult however, I feel like this is the first time I actually couldn’t “see” what the next step was.
This year, I decided to take the leap and apply to graduate school. With lots of love and encouragement from my nearest and dearest family and friends, I began my journey. I found a program that seemed like a perfect fit and just went for it. I poured my heart into my applications. I spent countless nights studying and used all of my free time and energy for this strenuous process. I was physically exhausted, and mentally and emotionally drained too. I was also one of the younger and definitely less experienced candidates so I was battling confidence issues on top of all of that. But I kept pushing. A couple months, and a few breakdowns later, I submitted my applications. Following a rigorous interview process I got accepted! I attended admitted students’ weekend and met my teachers and future classmates. I even found a roommate and started looking for an apartment. At the last minute however, due to financial aid circumstances beyond my control, I could no longer go.
I was crushed. Not only did I feel like a failure, but I also felt like I disappointed the people I love the most. They had been in the trenches with me, and for what? Why would God let me get so close to my dream only to let me fail?
I didn’t know what to do. I could no longer see the next step. I believe that everything happens for a reason and I have faith, or so I thought, but I just didn’t understand. What was the purpose? I sulked for a little while, but through prayer, journaling, yoga, exercise, and with tons of support from my loved ones, I realized that if God closed that door, it was for a reason. Not only had I came, saw, and conquered something that I set my mind to, but I had also gained confidence in myself and in my abilities. Just because I was unable to go to that particular school doesn’t mean I won’t go to school, and the next time I apply, I’ll have that much more experience.
Taking a step back from the disappointment helped me to realize that all of this growth I’ve experienced, professionally, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, wouldn’t have been possible if I was halfway across the world in school. There are a lot of doors opening in my life right now and that wouldn’t be possible if I had given up on God and my dreams just because they didn’t happen exactly how I envisioned them. I am learning and growing daily spiritually and in my walk of faith. Here are a few lessons I have learned thus far:
1. Faith isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
Luke 1:37 says “Faith doesn’t make things easy, but it makes them possible.” Faith is hard. It is especially difficult when nothing is going your way and you can’t see the path, let alone the next step. But if you trust God, and let Him work in your life, you’ll realize His plan was so much more than you could have ever dreamed. Some of my favorite scriptures for this are Jeremiah 29:11 and Ephesians 3:20-21. As humans, we tend to set our own limitations for ourselves and our lives. We have a box of things we believe are possible for us in life and therefore set limits on what we believe God can do for us. The moment we release those self-imposed barriers, we make room for the impossible.
2. Faith isn’t just thanking God for the Yes’s.
Faith is trusting in Him through the peaks, the valleys, and everything in between. It’s knowing that God has our best interests at heart. There have been a multitude of situations in my life when God closed a door and told me no. At the time I deemed these as failures, only in hindsight am I able to see that He was setting me up for something better or protecting me from something.
3. Faith helps make the impossible possible.
Faith doesn’t give you the answers. It doesn’t lessen the blow or hurt when situations don’t work out how you’ve intended. Faith does, however, provide you with the strength and courage to keep pressing forward in spite of. “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20