There is a bible story [I wish I could tell you exactly where to find it... that's not one of my strong suits] that I think about almost daily. I remember the first time I really understood it... I had heard it all my life but there was a moment in college, sitting in a pew at St. Stephen's, when it finally clicked.
It's the story of the man who needed help with his harvest. He went and hired some men for the day - he told them the day's wage, it was fair, they accepted and began working. Throughout the day, he realized he needed more help to get the work completed, so he went out multiple times and hired more workers. Each time he offered them the wage, they accepted, and set out to work.
At the end of the day, he called all the workers together and paid them the same day's wage. It was the wage he had offered to them... the one they had all accepted. But the men who had worked all day laboring in the fields were angry. They said they were cheated because they worked harder and longer than the others, and should be paid more than those who had worked only the last few hours.
In reality, the problem wasn't in the amount they were paid for the work they did - he gave them what was promised to them. The problem was in the worker who only felt cheated when he compared his life to someone else's. The problem arose when the worker took his eyes off of his own mission [the one he agreed to gladly] and decided he wanted the easier task that was promised to someone else.
I have to remind myself of this story because it's hard for me not to feel cheated. It's hard for me to be here and be thankful on a Thanksgiving weekend when I have to be alone in this condo. When there is no bustle of family or friends, when I can't eat a holiday feast, when I have no one to talk with and laugh with and reminisce with and grieve with. It's hard when I compare my isolated existence with what I know is happening everywhere else.
But that's not the deal I made with God. I promised Him my whole life, and he promised me He would love me, never leave me, and take me home to have eternal life in Heaven someday. It was the wage He promised me, the wage I accepted, and it's only when I take my eyes off of that promise that I feel cheated.
He is honoring His deal. It's me who looks at life and says, "I'll have what she's having, please."
Does going back to that Bible story make all the hard-to-deal-with feelings disappear? Of course not. It's still brutal. But it reminds me of what I believe. I believe that God has a purpose for me, and that my job is to be faithful to whatever comes with my life. I will do my daily task and honor Him as I believe He is honoring me.
I believe it.
Even when it doesn't feel good. Even when it hurts and is lonely and feels unfair and requires me to grieve a life I was never promised.
They say that faith is believing without seeing. I think it's also believing without feeling. It's believing in those moments when our hearts ache and our tears betray us by spilling over when we know better but feel the pain anyway.
It's not about always being in the happy place, as much as I try to live there. It's about believing even when the happy place isn't ours to have. It's about those times when we can't see or feel the promise, but we believe in the promise anyway.
Faith isn't a feeling. It's believing despite our feelings.
And I do.