For some reason, I have held on to this seemingly insignificant memory for about 15 years now. I had no idea what my life held in store for me at that moment, and yet I had the (audacity?) boldness to claim that my faith was strong enough to never break- no matter the circumstance. I have often reflected on that moment and wondered to myself if I am as strong as I thought I was back then. Would I still have said that knowing what I know now?
We just received the news this week that Ben did not match into a residency spot for the second year in a row. Therefore- this week has been one of the hardest in my life to date. We tried to scramble/soap into a spot and that also did not work out. There were a lot of emotions between finding out the news and now- as you can imagine. But I don't feel the need to talk about that. What I want to talk about is faith. My word of the year- if you remember.
Last year when we didn't match, I felt my faith was shaken for the first time in my life. I felt so sure that God was going to pull off a miracle and that we would match into a program and life would be great. I was so convinced that it would happen that way and then when it didn't, I wasn't able to cope with that. I questioned my faith and whether or not having faith even made a difference. Do prayers really work? Does reading my scriptures even make a difference? Would anything have been different if I had been more or less faithful?
I have struggled with these questions for a year now and have continued to seek out what faith really means and does it really matter? Did I truly lose my faith? Where do I stand with God now? How do I move forward? And I think I did a pretty good job of convincing myself that my faith was gone and useless.
As the match this year grew closer I suddenly wanted to start earnestly praying again and reading my scriptures and seeking out the spirit. It's funny how we do that when something hard is about to happen and we realize we need the Lord's help. I was reading my scriptures every day, praying, seeking for inspiration at church, etc. And once again I convinced myself that everything was going to be ok and that we would match.
And yet, we didn't. So I once again fell back into that trap of thinking that faith doesn't matter. All of the prayers said on our behalf and by us didn't matter. Reading my scriptures didn't matter. Because it didn't get me the outcome that I thought we should get. Fortunately that was a short lived thought and I prayed that night that God would help me to see his hand in this circumstance. That I would realize that my faith does matter and that everything really is going to be ok.
And believe it or not, my prayers were answered. I have seen God's hand in our lives through this week of hell. And I know I wouldn't have been able to see it if I hadn't asked God for that. (omg my prayers matter!) I was overwhelmed with peace and calmness yesterday and I realized that my faith wasn't broken after all. And us not matching has taught me something about me. I can do hard things. My faith can help me withstand anything. And I needed this to happen so that I could learn this lesson for myself. And God knew that I needed that. After all of this, his hand is stretched out still. Faith makes all of the difference because it changes me.
I am reminded of the story of Abraham, when he was asked to sacrifice his son. God knew that Abraham would obey him and that he had the faith to choose God. But Abraham didn't know that. He needed to be tested to the brink of his strength to learn just how strong he really was. He needed to learn just how faithful he truly was. And God blessed him for it. And he will bless me too. It's important that we are aware of our own strength and there's really no other way to become aware of it than to put it to the test.
I listened to a song called "Blessings" on repeat yesterday. I first heard this song about 2.5-3 years ago at Time Out For Women. Here are some of the words:
We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things.
Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops?
What if your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you're near?
What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?
We pray for wisdom, your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel you near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
And all the while, you hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe
What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a great thirst this world can't satisfy?
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise?
I have faith that all things will together for my good. And that His plan will be better than the one I have planned out for myself. This has always been true in my life, so I know that it will continue to be true in the future.
To answer some FAQ's- as of now we will be staying in Danville, doing another year of prelim general surgery at Geisinger and will apply for the match again next year. That is at least the plan- you never know what God has in store for us. Thank you to everyone who has prayed, fasted, gone to the temple, etc on our behalf. We greatly appreciate it and have felt nothing but love and support during this hard time. So many of our friends in Danville have been nothing short of Angels and I know that we are in the right place for now. It's truly been a blessing to be here for the last year, so I can only imagine what blessings lie in store for us in the upcoming year.