I’m always reticent to talk about my personal faith, mostly because my past experiences have led to some deep skepticism, which I generally assume others share, but also because it feels deeply and immensely private. Most of the time I’m still trying to figure it out for myself. But, as this is the space I have designated for precisely these kinds of musings, I will share with you the journey of the past few days.
I should clarify that acts of faith are not really my forte. I’m more of a “pray for God’s will and then soldier forward with everything you’ve got” kind of person. Like… trust, but also… take action. Lots of action. Also, map out every step for the foreseeable future just in case your first plan doesn’t work out as you hope. And then give lots of thanks when it actually does.
To be clear, I have taken leaps of faith before. Like the time I moved us 3,000 miles from San Diego to Charlottesville without knowing a single soul in the city but with the very real conviction that it was where Elohim had a life waiting for us. And it was. Moving here was one of the best decisions I ever made. I have seen over the years, in very tangible ways, how Elohim had purposed us to be here. For this I am grateful. I know faith is important, crucial even, in any sort of relationship, as is surrender. It’s just not something I’m super great at.
So, faith. Immediately after deciding to designate the next few weeks to write, I felt calm…. more peaceful than perhaps the entirety of 2020 (which, I realize, isn’t saying much). I slept- deeply and soundly, my stomach settled. I had a very particular sensation that I was stepping out over a precipice, but that below it was the most authentic version of myself, an unrealized truth that had too long remained hidden. I was, for the first time in my entire life, allowing myself to believe that I was capable enough to utilize the gifts I had been born with.
And so, I started to look for a place to hole up and write, aware that I would need to remove myself from the perceived obligations that become difficult to say no to with proximity. I pulled open a map and looked up and down the coast. I searched for rentals that were near water and within budget ( the only thing I have missed in leaving California is the ocean and the magic of a shoreline, where one can think and think and think), and I kept coming back to this one place, this tiny, little island off the coast of Maine called Monhegan.
When I wrote my last post detailing “the decision,” I included a photo of a cottage by the sea. It was a random picture I found on the internet, but I chose it because it perfectly embodied the vision I had in my head. Raw, detached, close to water. I felt it was important to include because certain friends (you know who you are) have lately encouraged me to be very specific in my goals and in what I am asking for. How much more specific can you get than an actual photo of your internal vision?
Once I found this island, this magical little place without cars, with limited electricity, and with a population less than 100, I knew it was where I had to go. I began to reach out to everyone there who offered rentals. But I came up empty-handed. Because of the weather and limitations of the island, the tourist season ends in September. I began to question my intuition. I began to question this decision. I seriously began to question my sanity.
And then, in a passing conversation, I said I wished I could go the place in the photo I had used for my post. The person I was speaking to asked where it was. I didn’t know, but it suddenly seemed worth finding out. I assumed it was taken in Ireland or some other enchanted place but maybe… just maybe… it was somewhere I could get to. It took a bit of sleuthing, but I eventually tracked it down. And guys? That photo?
It was taken… on Monhegan Island. In Maine.
But… let’s come back down to earth. Because, despite that seemingly clear sign, I woke up yesterday feeling completely discouraged. The very real demands of life had started to creep back in, and I was again distracted by all the what-if’s and the hows and the whens. I sort of had this idea that when you take a leap of faith, everything is supposed to magically and immediately fall into place so you can finally relax and not have to KEEP walking over the precipice and trusting there will be ground beneath you. Right?
Before I could stop myself, I had gone down the rabbit hole of future unknowns. Because, even though I sort of-ish have a backup plan after this whole writing venture is over, I’m going to need to hit the ground running. And I started thinking that maybe I should actually have a few things lined up before I voyage off to some tiny island in the middle of nowhere so that when I return, we can actually settle our lives, live under the same roof as our pets, and sleep in our own beds! Also… what the hell am I doing voyaging (presumably) off to some tiny island in the middle of nowhere when we are in the midst of so much uncertainty and I have no idea what city we’ll even be living in 3 months from now?! Also, why have NONE of my friends tried to talk me out of this crazy decision? I mean, seriously, every single one of them has been irrationally supportive and overwhelmingly encouraging, which might mean that not only am I insane but also that I have also chosen to surround myself with other non-sane individuals who support my delusional reality.
Ok… that last part is definitely not true. Definitely one of the greatest miracles in my life is the fact that I have people around me who are deeply grounded and far more rational than I am. I can’t actually figure out why any of them are friends with me, but I have definitely exceeded the lifetime quota in the number of good people that I know and who, impossibly, love me. So thank you to those people.
I’m a huge fan of Peter (biblical, New-Testament Peter) because he too is often skeptical and overly-logical and someone who, in trying too hard to do the exact right thing, often ended up doing the exact wrong thing. I’ve been thinking lately about Peter’s little walk on water. If you’re not familiar with the story, Peter is in a boat with a bunch of the other disciples and Jesus is on the shore getting in some quality bonding time with his Father, but sometime in the early morning, he decides he’d rather be in the boat with everyone else and so he begins to walk there… via the water. Peter, being the often skeptical, overly logical type isn’t actually sure if it’s Jesus or a ghost (apparently a common enough occurrence that it was the more valid of the two options) and so he challenges the all-knowing Son of God. “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”
So Jesus does and Peter does and everything is going swimmingly well (pun intended) until Peter starts thinking about the logic of WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING (ie walking on a molecular structure that has historically not been known for maintaining its shape and form), and he promptly sinks. Jesus is nice enough to not let Peter drown and learn the faith lesson the hard way, but he does manage to drop a little zinger before helping him back into the boat. “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?”
In case you haven’t connected the dots yet, I’m Peter in this particular “walk out over the water” situation, and yesterday morning, I was a little sinky. But when I return to my decision, and only my decision, I again feel settled, the anxiety diminished. And because Elohim and my friends seem to be joined in this conspiracy together, and as if to prove everyone’s point, this morning verse popped up on my phone…
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Point taken. I still haven’t secured a place on Monhegan Island. And I have absolutely no idea what the next step will be after this little venture comes to an end. But I do know the step that is directly in front of me, and that is the one I am going to take.