Written by Yelena Knight

I am learning to appreciate blank slates; to get comfortable with the unknown, in not feeling like my next steps are planned. I’m beginning again and coming to a realization that I know so little and have so much to learn. When everything is stripped away, or all the goals you set for yourself have been accomplished, the vast nothingness that appears is both terrifying and exciting.

Face the Void

I wish I could sit here and say that I am someone who embraces the void as something exciting, something to be welcomed—but I have spent most of my life avoiding moments like this. I am a type A, goal-oriented personality. From as young as I can remember, I would find myself curled over a notebook writing a list of things I had to do or accomplish.

This habit was reinforced as a competitive athlete where I was taught how to set goals, and the importance of setting them regularly. The skill of setting goals helped get me through my undergraduate degree, when the light at the end of the tunnel seemed so far away, and I would forever be studying the same case.It took seven years, but eventually I found myself crossing the stage and accepting my degree. Immediately after, I began working in my field, doing legal research. My goal setting, meticulous planning, and discipline brought me to this point. But almost right away, I began to feel the sinking feeling that I was lost, standing in a city that I did not know, where I could not speak the language. I was in the void, and I hated it. I tried to set goals, but I had no idea what goals to set. I no longer knew what I wanted, or what my next steps were.

Eventually, even the small steps felt significant; should I go to the gym this morning, or sleep in? Should I spend time with this friend, or stay at home and recharge. Gosh, I spent a lot of time recharging. I was scared, to the point where I would have panic attacks. I hated feeling as if I was not accomplishing anything, yet I did not know where to go next.

I thought I was drowning instead of floating.

Starting Therapy

I started therapy, and started to work through these feelings of fear. My therapist, who is a Christian, asked me if I trusted God. It was such a simple question, yet I could not answer. I have believed in God for what feels like my entire life. I grew up going to church, reading the Bible, and singing worship songs. My entire family believed in God – I have pastors in my extended family. It was never a question of whether God existed; I simply believed this as fact. As I grew up, I walked through some moments where hope just felt like a word instead of a feeling. I continued to believe in God, but began to question if He could be trusted.

A Big Question

While I grew in my faith as I read the Word, what remained in the back corner of my mind was the question of whether God was a God who I could truly trust with my pain, my heartbreak – the entirety of my life. I began to lean on my own capabilities; my ability to be organized, set goals, and achieve. As long as I believed I could do something, I made sure to make it happen.

It was not until my therapist asked me such a simple question that I realized that I was relying on my own strength, and not God’s.What unfolded after that moment was a year of questioning my faith, not in a “is God real or not,” because that has always remained true to me, but a question of what my faith really meant when it was unpacked. I asked myself the most basic questions, similar to the one my therapist asked me, and saw that my faith was largely based around my family, and what my family believed, and not what I believed to be true. I was carrying their personal experiences with me, and making it my own.

Of course, I have my own spiritual experiences that show me that my faith was real, and I did have a personal relationship with God; but I was beginning to drown those experiences with other’s stories, where my faith was no longer my own, but a number in a collective.

The Void

When there is a fork in the road; where nothing in your life makes much sense anymore, even if it appears on paper to be okay, you have to make a decision as to how to move forward. You could stand staring at the Y in the road, paralyzed. These people refuse to change anything, even though they are completely miserable with their lives. Or, you could pick a road and hope for the best.

Another Choice

Through studying law, I learned that when someone gives you two choices, you come up with a third one – a counter. I chose the third choice here; instead of rolling the dice, and hoping for the best, or relying on my pros and cons list, I chose to trust God, and pray through my next steps. This was completely unnatural to me. Trusting anyone other than myself was something that I have always refused to do, because of fear. However, God is not “someone,” God is God, and can be trusted. Even when things go wrong, or get messy.

God is Constant

That was the biggest thing I learned, that God is constant and remains the same even through all the uncertainties of life. It sounds easier to believe than it is to practise sometimes; I found that I began to do a lot of waiting. I found that I would not rush to make decisions as I used to. Is that not how God is, though? If you look at the grand scale of life, He moves slowly, but He is also always on time. I found that my prayers felt more like conversations than prescribed things that I felt I should say. Overall, I stopped being who I thought I needed to be, the “right way” to be Christian, and started focusing on God alone.

I have found that this shift in my relationship with Him has allowed me to be more present and real in life overall. I have days where I slip and get it super wrong—more days than I would like. I am trying though, and I am trying to keep my eyes up above, instead of down on my to-do list for the day. I stepped into the void, and attempted to appreciate it for its vast beauty of nothingness – a blank slate to create something wonderful, instead of the possibility of falling below.

Where God Meets Me

The void is where God came to meet me. I share this candidly because I want more people to talk about those moments, especially those who have been in the faith for years. It is easy to shout from the rooftops that all things are wonderful, and that things are going effortlessly. It is in these places—not necessarily in the pit, but in the void—where things can feel lonely.I long for authenticity in our faith culture, because it is in those real moments where community is born.

Keeping it Real

Authenticity is what I seek in myself; being real with where I am in my faith. I love Jesus. I love what He did on the cross for us. I believe that God is good, even when it does not make sense. However, I am also learning how to make my faith personal, something that I can access and comprehend in the moments when I do not know what to do.I still plan and make goals, but afterward, I give (or at least try to!) it all to God, to let Him take care of the details. I encourage you embrace a faith crisis if that is where you are. So many before us have had them, and come out the other side with a deeper love, and appreciation for Christ. Embrace the warmth of the void, and see it as an opportunity to grow, and shift. I can assure you, you can trust God to be there next to you in this journey.