The old Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons always left me with mixed emotions. I never wanted Road Runner to be eaten, but I held a sneaking sympathy for all the splats Wile E. endured on his quest to fulfill his dream of a good dinner. All those fruitless leaps of faith. How did he keep going when his dream never came true?
Surely that would never happen to me. If I worked hard and had worthy dreams, God would honor all my leaps . . . right?
I recently celebrated 40. I’ve splatted a few times along the way. I expect a few more will happen before I bid this world goodbye. At 13, I knew I’d have it all figured out by now. My life was carefully planned out. I knew what I was doing, who I’d marry, where I’d live, and how many kids would come with it all. I also thought I’d knew who I would be through it all and that my faith in God would never falter.
My mom’s garage holds a few boxes of my dreams. The journals and diaries I filled with all my hopes and dreams and plans for the future. I knew it all then. I had no doubts. I needed to know and believe I had control and that my dreams would come true.
But we all come to moments of failure, where it seemed our leap of faith ended in our shame.
Several years ago, it was time for a job change. After praying and talking to wise friends, I decided to look for a job in New York or Washington DC. I wanted a new experience. All the doors opened up, all my prayers were answered, and I felt peace with my new move to DC.
I was living in DC pursuing my dream. But my long-cherished dream left me feeling empty.
Suddenly, it all turned upside down. I had resigned from my job after only eight weeks. I was in a brand new city with no job in the middle of one of our country’s worst recession. My friends and family were hundreds and thousands of miles away. I was on my own.
The shame overwhelmed me as I sobbed out my failure in the shower. My dream and my faith seemed shattered. I felt utterly alone. How did I miss the warning signs of an unhealthy situation?
My leap of faith left me splattered at the bottom of the cliff, but I didn’t have the bounce that Wile E. Coyote always did. Worse than leaving my job or what people would think of me, how could I have missed the Lord’s voice as I made such a life-changing move? I berated myself despite how carefully I sought God before I even began to job search, let alone interview, and make plans for a big move.
One of the hardest (and best) things about each year of life is the recognition I really don’t know much of anything. Not even myself. I am this constantly changing mystery. And the God I know is far more mysterious and unknown and close and knowable than I could fathom at 13.
I didn’t miss God’s voice. He didn’t let me go when I made this leap of faith. The acts God calls me to don’t guarantee my success. I really want a guarantee and a strong return policy.
There have been times where my leaps of faith have been wildly successful. More often they come with mixed results.
“We grow spiritually much more by doing it wrong than by doing it right.” Richard Rohr, Falling Upward
My biggest perceived failures draw me closest to Christ. They have been the best teachers. When thrust into unemployment in DC, after a soul-shaking experience, I was forced to draw deep into myself and cling more tightly to God.
And I learned some new things for the next splat I face.
- I can do this hard thing with grace.
- Hard things have an expiration date.
- I don’t control most things in life, but I do control how I respond to them.
- God shows up in my failure. I remember more how much I need him.
- There was redemption in the difficulty and pain.
- My season in DC laid the foundation for my next leap of faith and step on my journey.
It always feels easier to choose what is safe. But the rewards for our souls are minimal. Whatever the leap of faith you contemplate – relational, seeing a counselor for past wounds, new job, going back to school, new move – whatever your new beginning, consider the cost, but don’t be afraid of the splatting along the way.
Mikkee Hall is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys the nearby mountains from her Denver, CO, home. Like every good editor and writer, she usually has her nose in a book. Mikkee also loves snowshoeing, running and hiking to balance out her baking addiction. Follow along at MikkeeHall.com.