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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Found Wanting: Jennifer Tatum, "I've wanted to be a woman of faith, but . . ."

jenmichel@me.com

I am curating stories for a blog project called, “Found Wanting.” (If you’d like to submit a guest post, learn more here.) During Jesus’ earthly ministry, it was not uncommon for him to approach the sick and sin-sick with this question: “What do you want?” In John 5, he speaks with a man lying next to the healing waters of Bethesda, a man who has been an invalid for 38 years.

“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’”

The man seizes an excuse. “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up.”

Was it too much for this man to hope for healing?

What is too great a risk to invite the responsibility for walking again?

There can be fear in desire: fear that we will want what God will always refuse to give; fear that we will not want whatever God, in his sovereignty, chooses to give.

Ultimately, we are profoundly afraid of ceding into the hands of God our trust.

I’m grateful for those willing to share their stories of desire here. I'm neither applauding nor condemning their stories: rather, I am amplifying their desires - and reminding each of us that to be human is to want. In my book, Teach Us to Want, I claim that:

“Desire takes shape in the particularities of our lives. We cannot excerpt desire from the anthology of our stories. Our desires say something about us – who we have been, who we are and who we are becoming. They tell a part of the story that God is telling through us, even the beautiful and complicated story of being human and becoming holy.”

To catch up on the series, read these featured stories: Amy Chaney, "I didn't want to be a coach's wife." Beth Bruno, "I've wanted beauty." Wendy Stringer, "I didn't want to move to suburbia." Steve Burks, "I've wanted to produce entertainment." Faydra Stratton, "I didn't want a child with Fragile X." Brook Seekins, "I never wanted to be a missionary in Africa." Sarah Van Beveren, "I have always wanted to be strong." Holly Pennington, "I didn't want to find out what I wanted." Larry Shallenberger, "I wanted to know what I wanted." Hannah Anderson, "I didn't want - because I couldn't afford to." Megan Hill, "I want your blessing." Bronwyn Lea, "I wanted a boyfriend, college scholarships, permission to sleep over at the popular kid's house."

Today, Jennifer Tatum writes her story of desire.

* * * * *

I’ve wanted to be a woman of faith, but I found myself whispering, I’m tired of having to live on faith. When is enough, enough? It felt like an ungrateful thing to say to Jehovah Jireh after everything he’d done. I’m sorry, Lord. I don’t mind. Faith is good. I’m learning to depend on you. … Without faith, I would have fallen apart years ago. In the economic crash of ’06, my husband lost his job and we learned all about faith and trusting in the One Who Owns Everything. God saw that we always had food and that the utility bills were paid - even our mortgage. In fact, he provided so perfectly, that on that year’s taxes we got a refund of exactly $1.

We used all our finances, even taking a short sale on our house. We lived with my crazy-generous parents and then added another member to our little family. Pregnant? And jobless? Yes, but God still provided. My husband was offered a great job within a few weeks of finding out and the insurance covered my pregnancy.

This year we moved across the country and after 9 months, found ourselves jobless again. And again, God is faithful. He met our needs and we were living by faith and enjoying his blessings on us.

But my heart whispered, Can I live on something other than faith for a while...please?

I’m not sure I can even articulate what I mean but I would like:

to buy AJ jeans that fit ... to take Ellie out for a smoothie reward ... to take Juli to the bakery for breakfast because it’s fun to watch her eat a cinnamon roll bigger than her head... ...and not have to check the bank account every time.

I am, in no way, ungrateful for how amazingly God has taken care of my family. But for me, living by faith is not easy and, while fulfilling, it can be an exhausting journey. (Like motherhood, come to think of it....) I've been living by faith for so long for day-to-day needs and while I know God is providing the things we need, I’d like to enjoy some things we simply want.

Sure, the widow had more faith than the rich in giving her mites but I'd settle for a mere half a mustard seed worth and the ability to affect greater change in the lives of others. It is exhausting.

I don’t want to spend foolishly and buy my kids every new electronic device on the market so they can be like their friends.

I want to look at the church's Christmas Giving Tree and pick the $500 card instead of trusting God to help us with the $5 gift. I want to be the one God uses to bless other people like he’s done for us. But honestly, I just want to not think about money for a while. I just want to relax…

...and not hear that whiner in my heart sighing, Enough faith, already.

* * * * *

Jennifer Tatum is a wife, mother, writer, and a dozen other things. She lives with her husband and 3 kids in the Pacific Northwest. You can find her telling stories at lexicaljen.wordpress.com.