Believe

Believe.

It was easier when I was a kid. Before I had my heart broken, before I had a chance to be disappointed by a friend. Before I had the chance to pray hard for something and get a “no.”

All you had to do was tell me that God was good and I took your word for it. I also believed that all you had to do to be someone’s friend was to ask them. I ALSO believed Barney was an ACTUAL dinosaur. So obviously I didn’t ask a lot of questions.

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As I got older and saw that life was more complicated—it took more to be someone’s friend than just declaring that you were, and Barney was really a middle-aged man in a poly-foam suit—I became a little more jaded (and a lot more distrusting) and doubt took up a permanent residence in my mind.

It started off with the incessant need to ‘prepare for the worst’ in every situation. Imagining a positive outcome was too scary because that meant getting my hopes up. The way I saw it, the higher my hopes, the harder I would fall when it didn’t work out the way I thought. I spent so much time mentally prepping to be disappointed in every situation, that the lead up was never enjoyable. I made myself and everyone else around me miserable by worrying over any and everything that could go wrong.

In my adult years, after disappointments became more costly and hurts more life-altering, the constant doubt-filled narrative in my mind came to a crippling climax.

It was a scene that I’d seen so many times before – three well known celebrities sitting at a table, facing one wide-eyed hopeful whose heart and dreams laid open and vulnerable before them.

After fighting to sing through a wave of excitement and nervous energy, the fresh-faced singer shares their gift with the room, and then waits for the opinion of three strangers to determine if their lives will take the fast track to notoriety, or take them right back to their “ordinary” life of selling over-priced clothes at the mall.

Then, in a matter of moments, the look of disappointment rushes over the once excited hopeful, as she’s told that her voice is “too small to stand in this competition,” and maybe she’d be better off sharing her talents in a coffee shop.

All that’s left to do is to pick up her dream and leave the room, the golden ticket, and the possibility of that opportunity behind.

She closes the door behind her, and realizes that this door was closed before she ever entered it.

It was a scene that I’d seen so many times before. But it wasn’t until I walked out of that room, pushed the “American Idol” printed double doors open and saw my family waiting, eyes wider than mine, for me to pump fake and pull a golden ticket out from behind my back, that I realized  I was actually LIVING it.

JILLIANA JONES

 

I think it be too generous to say that this one moment, while dramatic, was the catalyst for the season of paralyzing doubt that followed.

The weeks of silence that followed my American Idol audition were the result of multiple closed doors, and a quickly cementing belief that all of my “preparing for the worst” was not in vain, because God did not in fact have good things in store for me.

I think I went at least a month without singing. I still sang at church, because it was my job, but I stopped singing just to sing. At home, I was silent. My guitar may as well has been a light fixture with how little I touched it. Songwriting was a distant memory.

I just felt like I’d picked myself up too many times. I fell seven times, and got up eight. But after the eighth fall, I just kinda wanted to stay down for a little bit.

But that’s the thing with humans. When we get a word from The Lord, a dream that we believe was God-breathed, we get so fixated on it that the longer we go without seeing IT realized, the less we believe that we actually heard from God in the first place.

We miss the miracle in the fact that the God of the universe cares enough to speak something in our lives. We also miss the mini growth miracles that happen in the process that He takes us through to get there, because we haven’t seen it yet.

Coming into this year I had a lot of questions for God. It’s a very weird place to be, when you feel with certainty that the Lord spoke something to you, or called you to something,  but have a hard time believing it because of what’s in front of you, or what you see.

It reminds me of the story of Zechariah in Luke- when an angel met him to deliver the message that Elizabeth was going to give birth to John the Baptist in her old age and he asked ‘how he could know if what the angel was saying was true.’

This may be my spiritual imagination, but when I read it, I feel like the angel was looking at him like “bruh, really?”

There was an ANGEL standing in front of him, with a message from GOD – what do you mean, “how you can be sure Zechariah?!” Maybe the giant ANGEL standing in front of you will do it.

And you know the angel looked other worldly, because the first thing he told him to do was to calm down and stop acting scared. (I’m paraphrasing.)

But Zechariah was so focused on the fact that his wife and himself were too old to conceive, that the whole grown Angel standing in front of him was not enough to convince him to have enough faith to believe.

But how often do I contradict myself the same way? How often do I stand with enough faith to say that GOD himself spoke to me, and called me, but doubt it as soon as something doesn’t look exactly right.

Like I don’t have a Bible full of instances where God showed up through the impossible sitting on my night stand.

This year my word was ‘Believe’ because I need the Lord to build my belief that He can do the impossible. He’s already promised us the impossibility of eternal life through His Son, who lived an impossible sinless life, was put through the finality of death, and then came back like it was nothing.

Our God does not subscribe to our rules of “impossibility,” so I need to stop being afraid to believe big, and start getting my hopes ALL the way up. “Up” is where they are safest. The higher my hopes, the closer they are to the one who is the true and living Hope.

Getting back up the ninth time becomes a little easier when my greatest dream; to be with Jesus forever, is the only thing I’m holding on to.

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When I can hold onto that with everything in me, all of my earthly desires are up for grabs. I’m free to believe big for a husband. I don’t need to shy away from that desire or downplay it so that if it doesn’t happen my feelings aren’t hurt. I can say that it’s something that I’m praying for, knowing that if it doesn’t happen, that just means God has something even better in store for me – and I still have Jesus.

I believe God has called me to sing and share my songs on a large scale. If it doesn’t happen? I’m going to sing to whoever will listen…and I STILL. HAVE. JESUS.

It’s always a win, win for me.

So while life was easier when I had faith like a child, when I had the freedom to believe without the nagging doubt in the back of their mind that comes with life experience, I also want faith that is based on unshakeable truth. Truth that has been tested and proved faithful.

Nothing has been proven to be more true than the fact that Jesus is greater than anything this world has to offer.

So believe big. Believe with everything in you – because He’s faithful. He’s good for it. And “those whose hope is in The Lord will never be put to shame.”

 

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