I’ve been thinking a lot recently about faith and fear. One of my biggest fears is heights: a fear that I had to face and overcome quickly during the fire academy. During our firefighter survival training we learned how to bail out a window using just a single rope. To do this, you have to wrap the rope around you and get one leg up and over the window sill. Next you lean forward and start falling head first out the window until you can clear your other leg and turn yourself upright again. Needless to say, it was terrifying. In learning and practicing these things, I came to trust my equipment, my fellow firefighters, and myself.
This trust didn’t take away my fear, but it gave me the strength to push through it anyway.
Faith and trust in God doesn’t equate to the complete absence of fear. I think one of the most profound ways to show Heavenly Father my faith is by following Him in spite of my fears. It’s by coming to that window sill and telling Him; ‘I don’t know how this is going to turn out, but I trust that you’re going to protect me as I do your will.’
By far, the hardest decision I’ve ever made is which path I wanted to be on with regards to my faith. I don’t profess to have the right answers, or that the decisions I have made are the right decisions for anyone else’s path. For me in my life, I chose to stay in the church after having a very tumultuous crisis of faith. And at times I still find myself paralyzed by thoughts of what the future holds and if it’s actually feasible to continue in my faith in light of the fact that I am gay. But I’ve found my faith grow deeper in those times of trusting God enough to move forward anyway despite not knowing.
In the first moments when you bail out of a window, it feels like you are free falling. Until you clear the window sill and the rope tightens, you are going on complete faith that your rope will catch you. But once the rope kicks in and you’re not falling head first anymore, you feel completely secure and safe. I constantly go back and forth between free falling and feeling complete trust in the Lord. I have told Heavenly Father more than once: “I don’t know what to do with this, but it makes my soul ache.”
I made the choice to stay, but that doesn’t take away my feelings. And it makes my very soul ache to think about the true implications of my decision. My faith is more important to me than anything, but I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t a devastating decision to chose not “act on” my feelings. In those times I really have to step back and say, I don’t know. I don’t know the answers. I don’t know if I’m going to survive jumping out of this window.
But I have come to learn that I can trust my rope. I can trust my Heavenly Father. I have found my strength renewed time and time again by living the gospel. It has brought an indescribable peace to my soul that I wouldn’t trade for anything.