It’s been awhile, I know. I tend to write when I feel led rather than systematically to stay current. That’s not business savvy, again, I know, but it works for me. I may not have something every week (or month) but you can be sure that when I do, it’s genuine. So here we go…

For the first time, I decided to start 2016 with a specific prayer list. Most items on the list are measurable, like any good ‘goal’ is, but I couldn’t leave off a very vague yet powerful prayer: Recognizable progress in my relationship with Christ.

I never intended to share this and it’s not an indirect way to brag about my wonderful heart, because you know what, God has been answering this prayer resiliently and I’ve been trying to tell him to tone it down.

When I prayed that prayer, I meant it sincerely, but I had an idea on how it would look: me doing a review of 2016 on December 31st saying that I barely stumbled this year because I was more obedient. However, what it actually looks like in July (just over halfway through) is me on my umpteenth round of “What in the *bleep* going on?! Again?!” It’s been hard, really really hard. Even that doesn’t quite capture it all.

I’ve been a bigger brat (there’s probably a better word that can be used here) in this season than I remember ever being. Honestly, there’s been so many temper tantrums and a common theme of “Can we just take a break?” and “Why me?” in my prayers. Years ago I specifically remember saying I want to be like Isaiah in Isaiah 6:8 when he responds to God’s question with willingness and enthusiasm. Instead I identify with Jonah fleeing to Tarshish.

I think the best way to describe it would be like an internal earthquake that doesn’t stop. God’s shaking my world to knock down all that I’ve built on a faulty foundation. All the while, I’m putting forth a constant effort to regain my footing, to reestablish my comfort zone, to get back to a place where I feel safe enough to let my guard down. That’s what the last 7 months have been. I’m already looking back on January’s Simone as a distant memory. I’m already looking ahead to December’s Simone confident that she will be able to say that God answered her prayer, but she will not be able to say that it was because she was faithful, rather that He is.

I’m not saying this as someone who’s looking ahead declaring “I’m gonna make it after all!” It’s more like someone who’s looking back already and admitting “I can’t believe he’s carried me this far”. Two things have been made perfectly clear to me: I will make it (whatever that means) and it will not be out of my own strength. On December 31st I will look back at this year and say that progress has been made in my relationship with Christ, even if I merely attribute it to a deeper understanding that He is the only one holding me together.

My faith has become much more than an activity or a surrounding. It’s being tested. Do I believe what I say I believe when it’s not convenient? What will I choose when I’m being pulled in a different direction than those I love? What will I choose when there’s an option of instant, empty gratification? Am I following people or am I following God? Am I following God or am I following my plans? It’s more than what I do on Sunday, more than what I do in my quiet time, more than what I like (or don’t like) or follow on social media, it’s more than what I pray for.

These are all questions and realizations that are common to man and woman in life to some degree. It all seems so abstract and somewhat exciting until you’re actually faced with them. Then you feel the weight and it’s more than heavy.

This isn’t much of a pep talk, but it is a reality check. Life isn’t easy, no matter where you put your faith. Everything is temporary, no matter how long it lasts; even life itself. You’re not strong enough on your own. Sorry, but I hope I’m not the first to say that to you.

Check point cleared.