Did you ever have that one friend in your life that could always make you laugh, would lift you up when you're down and just make you want to be a better person? Well, Faith Hanan is that person for me. I've known her since we were kids in youth rodeo and with all the ups and downs that rodeo competitors go through, I don't think I ever saw her sad, mad or upset. She was always the first to say "nice run" or "you'll get them next time." She also wore her faith right out in front for everyone to see. I so admired that because at that time I struggled with walking out my faith and the insecurities of sharing what I believed. Faith and I got to sit down over breakfast this last year and I loved getting to see where God has brought her and the amazing future He has for her. Faith's Brave Story is a tale of walking out your faith for many years and steadfastly remaining on the path that God has for you no matter how uncomfortable it may make you. I'll always remember what my pastor has said, "God is less concerned about your comfort and more concerned about your character." Faith's story is just that and I'll be the first to say that this girl has plenty of character!
I was on the floor of my bedroom sobbing. My cries muffled by the carpet and the deep anguish of my heart. It was the kind of crying that I used to do very rarely but now seemed to be doing much more frequently. I was miserable. I was lonely, far from family, close friends and my home church. I had a bad break up several months before and at the end of summer I landed in the hospital for several days with what my Mom and Grandma described as a “life threatening” bout with viral meningitis. My hormones were a mess, my weight was bizarre, and all I wanted to eat was Snickers. I had to leave my BFF border collie, horses and western and outdoors lifestyle 7 hours away. Feeling very misunderstood and out of place, I was surrounded by people who all seemed so different than me. Although they all loved Jesus, I had found very few people I could actually connect with. Most of the other girls at Bible college FULLY embraced the cutesy business casual dress code and donned heels, skirts, and perfectly styled hair. Meanwhile, I looked for the absolute plainest, flattest, most comfortable shoes that I could find (that would still meet the dress code) and brushed my hair only when absolutely necessary (about once a week). 90% of the men I met were scared when I shook their hand because my grip was about 4xs as strong as theirs which was really fine with me since I had spitefully vowed to NOT find a husband at Bible college.
I had left what I knew and loved to follow God’s leading and go to Bible College, and I was miserable. Absolutely miserable.
I knew God loved me. I KNEW God had called me to be there. I knew God had miraculously made a way for me to even go. I absolutely loved the 4 hours of Bible teaching that we got every day. I was even attending the “extra” stuff like Prayer School. I went to church at least 3 times a week on top of classes. I was getting fed. I was exactly where I was supposed to be and I knew it, but gosh I was miserable and I was sobbing hysterically. Finally, amidst my cries, I told God, “Lord, if this is what serving you wholeheartedly looks like forever, I am going to be a mediocre Christian. I’ll go to church and pay my tithe and even volunteer. But I am NOT going to be this miserable forever.” I wish I had written down/or remembered EXACTLY what the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart at that moment, but I do remember an overwhelming sense of peace that washed over me. My wise Grandma’s words echoed in my ears, “The sacrifice is part of the gift, Faith. The sacrifice is part of the gift.” This was my sacrifice. And I knew that I would never be fully satisfied being a mediocre version of who God had called me to be. I COULD NOT live a mediocre Christian life and forsake the call of God on my life. I COULD NOT get to the end of my life and bear to stand before my King and say that I chose my comfort over His Kingdom. I couldn’t. He had done too much, paid too high a price, loved me too deeply to only get half my heart.
I needed to KEEP being brave. I needed to KEEP going deeper. My favorite basketball coach told me, “Faith, it’s much more important to me who FINISHES the game than who starts the game.” It very often requires more bravery to FINISH what God has called us to than it takes to start. I KNEW that there was some cost in following God’s leading for my life, but I did not know the depth of it until I was in the middle of it. “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:7-8 NIV I COULD NOT bail because following Jesus wholeheartedly got hard.
Following Christ with everything that you have won’t always be fun, but it won’t always be miserable either. To date, that season of sobbing on the carpet is the hardest season (emotionally) I have ever been though. But seasons change. You will not always be where you are right now. I would love to say that I got up off my floor, went and made 6 new best friends, started enjoying fixing my hair and wearing high heels every day, taught all the men I met how to properly shake hands, and enjoyed every second thereafter of my time at Bible School, but that’s not the case. It was still a hard season, but it was an extremely rewarding season. It got easier to be sure. I got some things figured out, started doing things that were conducive to a healthy emotional life, and made friends with a hair stylist who laughed at my wild woman hair ways. I got through it and I actually learned to enjoy it some!
Today, I sit in a comfortable chair in my cute little house that I share with my husband and our 3 dogs with my two barrel horses in the small pasture beside my house. I actually DID meet my husband, Nate, at Bible college. He wasn’t scared of my handshake, and truthfully he far exceeded any and all of my prayers for my husband. We truly do have a wonderful marriage and life together. I am back at the church that I love, privileged to be learning from and serving my Pastors. My husband and I lead worship for the youth group and have the honor of loving on some really great teenagers. I really do love where we are at. I am happy. But I am also keenly aware that whatever the sacrifice, whatever the cost of following God wholeheartedly, it is worth it. Every. Single. Time.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 NIV