If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you know I have a wonder pooch. A golden Retriever, Ellie, and she is faithful. We got her just over 12 years ago when she was just a wee puppy, squirming around, trying desperately to get as close as possible to my heartbeat. Wanting to be as snug as possible in that space where there was no separation between where I ended and she began.
We’ve never been apart. At least not for any period of time. Even when I was going through that dark space of a relationship that was killing me, Ellie was beside me. She watched me. Kept her eyes on me throughout the yelling and screaming and tears and fears and crawling into darkened closets where I would sit and scrape the skin off my wrists just to see if there really was blood flowing in my veins. Just to see if I was alive.
And in the darkness and in my pain, she would always remind me I was alive and needed to keep living. I would cling to her fur and feel her heartbeat next to mine, her warm breath against my cheek and I would know I was not alone. Ellie was always there with me.
She was my ballast. My support. My confidant. My solace.
I was always sure of Ellie being there. Always sure of her love.
I never quite felt that way about God. He was just a bit too far removed for me. A picture in a book when I was a child. A man in white robes with long flowing hair. A being with large hands that held the world gently in their cupped embrace but whose stern countenance I feared. Whose harsh words I cowered away from. I didn’t trust God.
It frightened me when they told me God was always with me. It scared me when they said He walked with me through forests and valleys, desert plains and city streets. They told me he had always been there, even when I didn’t see him. Even when I didn’t believe he was there. Even when I chose to deny his presence. They told me he was always there.
I didn’t always believe them. Why should I? They lied about so many things. They must be lying about this too.
Show me, I would reply. I can’t see him how do I know he’s there?
I could see the boogie man. He lurked in darkened corners. Behind closed doors. He yelled and screamed and did things to hurt me.
And God didn’t stop him. And he and God were related.
How could there be a God if he didn’t do anything about the things that hurt me?
And then, one day I awoke and saw there was a sky above. It was clear blue spread out forever and a day. I walked beneath that sky and wondered, where did I go? How did I get so lost? Where have I been?
I didn’t know the answer. I couldn’t see what had happened to me. I just knew I’d lost all hope of ever being free. I knew I would die. I knew the end was coming soon. And I didn’t care.
And I told myself God didn’t care either.
And then, a miracle drove up in a blue and white police car and I was given the miracle of my life.
I went to church that first Sunday after the man who would have killed me if he’d only had a little more time was arrested. I went to church even though I didn’t believe God knew I was there. Even though I didn’t believe he cared.
“You look like you could use a friend,” the pastor said to me.
I didn’t need a friend, I told him. I needed help. I needed a sign that God hadn’t turned his back on me in my hour of need.
I remember the pastor’s face. He had gentle eyes. Kind eyes. And a smile. It wasn’t big or even all that friendly. It was just a smile that said, ‘we’re all in this together. There’s nothing to fear and no need to hide.”
I was tired of hiding out and so, when the pastor smiled I opened my mind a little bit and let the warmth of his welcoming words into my heart. Just a little bit. But just a little bit was all he needed. “God never turned his back on you Louise. Even when you walked away and hid. He never turned his back. He kept holding out the miracle of his Love waiting for you to open up to the possibility that He was always there.” I remember he paused before asking. “What if…”
It was the ‘what if…’ that got me.
What if the friend I needed was someone who would never judge me. Never let me go. Never turn his back. What if no matter what I did, he would always love me. Always hold me in his embrace and cherish me as a miracle of Love. What if His faithfulness was all I needed and to feel it all I needed was a little faith to guide me away from the darkness and into the light of Love?
I have a wonderful dog and she is faithful. I never question her faithfulness. I know she loves me.
I have faith but I have not always been filled with faithfulness. I’ve often abused myself, the one’s I love. I’ve often abused my faith. I’ve disregarded it. Dissected it. Ignored it. I’ve struggled to stand comfortably in faith, letting go of my disbelief that there is a God. I usurp my faithfulness with my constant challenging of His way, asking why does he let bad things happen even when I know, it’s not Him, it’s we humans acting out.
I still muddle through it. My faith. Searching for where faith ends and the leap begins. Searching for that space where my faith falls into that place where all there is is nothing else but faith. That place where God, or whatever words I use to describe the ineffable, extends beyond the limits of my thinking.
I have a faith steeped in fear and sorrow, love and joy. I just don’t have many words to define it. I just don’t trust myself to speak of it in biblical terms. Or in terms of Christianity. All I can speak of is Love.
In Love all things are possible. In Love, God is present whether I have faith in his presence or not. He is always there and all I have to do to have faith is to believe in Love.
I believe in Love. I believe in the power of Love to heal, to soothe, to restore and redeem and bless me with His amazing grace.
And at the end of that place where the leap begins, what if… the only thing I need to know about faith is right before me? What if… the only thing I need to question is nothing.
There was a time when Ellie and I would sit in darkened closets and fear the light. The Divine sat with us. Ever present. Even when my eyes were closed.
What if He or She or It knew everything I needed to learn about faith was through the touch of a beautiful canine friend whose warm faithfulness held me up when I was falling down?
What if God didn’t care if I questioned Him because all that really matters is He has never questioned who I am — the divine expression of amazing grace living this one wild and passionate life perfectly human in all my being who I am.
I changed up my morning and am now late writing my blog. This is a rework of a post from my original blog Recover Your Joy.