In 2007 I moved back to New York, where life had taken so much from me, but where I knew I was also loved deeply and known deeply. My church family there had adopted me richly and loved me so well. I put my hand to the plow and determined to love well in return. I served hard. I served long. I bit the bullet. I did it in the name of love. I felt as though I had been given the gift of love and the only thing to do in response was to love back.

The thing is, it is so easy for me to love that place.

It is beautiful country. The skies are magnificent. The mountains are near. The seaway is near. The college town is quiet in the summer, wrought with fun things to do and campfires to be had. It is bustling in the autumn with new and returning students, fresh opportunities. It is still and quiet in the winter, when the snow piles high and the only thing to do is drink tea and shovel the driveway. It is fresh and perfect in the spring, green, lush, and alive. It is so easy for my soul to write there. I find things to write about every day because there is always something to notice or some parallel to be made.

It is easy to love those people. They are loved, with their homes busting at the seams with children and whole foods, homemade things and hospitality. It is impossible to not love them. And I so deeply love them. I wrung myself out with love hoping that I would fill the void that was so present in me. I served myself dry in hopes that the prayers I was still afraid to voice would come true.

I was certain that if I could just love widely enough or deeply enough, then God would find that void in me and He would fill it with His love.

He wasn't my genie God anymore, but He was my caricature God and all I was beginning to see were the seeming flaws.

Someone said to me recently that they were afraid to leave some theological questions unanswered because what if that unanswered question was the question that kept the seeker awake at night and would render them faithless without an answer? I tell him to trust more, because it was those unanswered questions that led me to one February night in 2010. I was curled in fetal position on my bedroom floor and I was saying things to a God I wasn't sure existed about a salvation I was sure was never mine.

The thing about unanswered questions about God is not that they will all be answered here on earth, but that at some point it is the mysterious magnitude of a great God that leads us to trust that sometimes they are simply too wondrous for us to know.

At the threshold of questions about Church membership and tithing, liturgy and the Holy Spirit, I did not know that asking these things would lead me to question the very existence of God, but I would not trade those question marks for a host of periods.

There was a question posed to me a year ago: Recall a time when you were humbled by God?

And the answer was easy, it was that moment I was curled in fetal position on my bedroom floor, telling God what I really, deep down, honestly believed about Him. Not what I wanted to believe. Not what I was told to believe. Not what I knew I should believe.

But what I did believe.

To empty my soul of all my misconceptions about God, His character, His attributes, His glory, His church, His love; to say to God all the things I really believed about Who He Was and Who He Wasn't—this was necessary to pull out the file marked "2010, the year everything changed for the rest of my life."

 My front porch, seemingly perfect, 
but where I filled hours of time voicing 
my doubts, fears, and frustrations with God.


To be continued with TRADING: LIFE Part V