There has been a small spiral-bound notebook sitting beside my comfy red chair for the past year. On the outside, it is as ordinary as any Target impulse buy. But inside? It contains all the tender hopes and beliefs of a small village.
Last year I chose the word believe as my anthem for the year. There was one thing I was specifically hoping for and believing God for in my own life, but I knew I wasn’t the only one out there with a God-sized dream. So I asked the people around me: What are you believing God for this year?
The responses cracked my heart open in all the best ways. My friends’ hopes were beautiful and vulnerable and achingly real. Some of these people had been rubbed raw from years of agonizing waiting; some were voicing their quiet hopes for the first time. But all of them were united in their bravery, in the guts it takes to bring big dreams into the light.
I didn’t take it lightly that people were entrusting me with something so precious. I wished I could wave my magic wand and give them what they longed for, but I couldn’t. So I did the only thing I could to honor those tender shoots of hope: I wrote their dreams for the year in my notebook, and in the mornings I sat in my red chair, coffee steaming my in hands, and asked God to intervene. I believed on their behalf.
I wish I could tell you that after a year of my crash course in believing, I have it all figured out. I don’t. In fact, the nature of belief may be more of a mystery to me than ever. Some of the things I believed God for were answered in miraculous ways, and other requests—just as valid, just as earnest—were met with silence.
- I believed for a baby for four of my friends—women who were made to be moms. One had a baby before year’s end, and one is currently pregnant. But another friend miscarried, and one is still in the agony of waiting.
- I believed on behalf of three beautiful friends who long to be married. One had a whirlwind romance and got married last fall, and one is dating a good man who treats her with the love and honor she deserves. But the third one, for reasons that are lost on me, is still waiting for her turn to come.
- I believed on behalf of two talented writer-friends who are hoping for a home for their books. One has a book contract, while the other one continues to send out submission after submission, to no avail.
I saw miracles last year—some that unfolded slowly, like the gentle healing of a marriage, and some that happened all at once, like the long-awaited job offer. But there are other miracles that seem notably absent: the parents whose adopted children are stuck in layer upon layer of bureaucratic red tape, the daughter whose liver is failing, the loved one who continues to run from the Father-love of God.
To my surprise, it was much easier to believe for other people than for myself, and to have them believe for me. At first I felt guilty about this . . . why couldn’t I trust God with the things closest to my heart?
But as the year went on, I started to see that this is part of how God wired us. We’re not meant to do faith alone; we need each other. When we get weary, we need someone else’s hope to cover the gap for us. And when we see God at work in other people’s lives, it can give us renewed hope, a down payment of sorts to remind us of his power and goodness and love.
In the midst of the answers and non-answers from 2017, I realized that we all have a need greater than whatever it is we’re longing for. We need our God more than we need our miracle. And we need each other along the way—in the celebrations, when the answer is yes; in the heartbreaks, when the answer is no; and in the agonizing middle, when the answer is wait.
It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are . . . because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are. . . . It is important to tell our secrets too because it makes it easier for other people to tell us a secret or two of their own.
Linda MacKillop says
Love believing with you, my friend. 🙂
Linda, I was just looking through my journal and saw my request on your behalf! What a privilege.
I needed to read this today. Thank you for sharing your sweet words. My word for 2018 is TRUST. I have to trust the Lord has my best interest at heart and hears my prayers. Reading entries like this help me affirm that I am not alone.
Katie, thank you for stopping by! May God fill your heart and soul to overflowing with TRUST in the year ahead. You are not alone on this journey!
Kristen Joy Wilks says
Oh, Stephanie, this is so true. I remember writing the prayer requests from our ladies Bible study down on the inside cover of the book and those beautiful moments when something is answered in an amazing way. The silences and no answers were so hard, but those times that you see God, those were priceless. Thank you so much for writing down this journey and it was an honor and joy to pray for you this last year. God Bless!
What a privilege to believe on your behalf. I’m continuing to do so!
Kristen Joy Wilks says
“We need our God more than we need our miracle.” Wow, is that ever the truth. Thank you for this eloquent post and for encouraging us to trust other people to believe for us and with us.
Stephanie Rische says
So grateful to walk alongside you on this journey, Brittany!
Susie Crosby says
Thank you, Stephanie, for this encouraging post and for inspiring me once again. I found myself completely relating to what you shared about believing for others being easier than believing for ourselves.
I love how you connected vulnerability to our faith. It’s exciting to think about how much more we can grow by praying for and trusting each other. I have been lucky enough to be part of two prayer groups (one is at work–after hours in a public school!), and the asking and waiting and believing and surprising answers have been so challenging and encouraging to each of us.
By the way, a few weeks ago I bought a green notebook with gold polka dots on it at Target (an impulse buy, of course). I will tell you what I’m writing in it when I talk to you next.
Stephanie Rische says
I’m excited to hear about your notebook…and what God has planned for you in the year ahead, Susie!