I think the seeds of distrust were planted very innocently when I was a little girl who grew up in church, hearing testimony from missionaries and people who had been converted to Christianity from crazy situations. A lot of those stories involved God using bad things for good, and somehow it occurred to me that God might do something horrible to me so that I would have an awesome testimony. By horrible, I mean wipe out my family in a car crash so that I could learn (and testify!) that all I need is God. Shudder.
I also remember some well-meant teasing along the lines of “never say never to God, because sometimes that’s just what he gives you!” Because I hate hate hate bugs, and wouldn’t it be hilarious if God sent me to Africa as a missionary? Incidentally, I did a semester in Brazil, where I was properly horrified by cockroaches and thereby desensitized enough to live in our current apartment when it was infested with Canadian cockroaches. Also, back in the day, my Mom thought she’d never marry my Dad, and then she did, and here I am! So that backfired “never” worked out pretty well for me. But again, this seed was planted in my mind that God would give me what I didn’t want, that he was a prankster in the sky who I had to trust or else he’d make things even worse.
Ironically, I think the experience that has given me sturdiest reasons to trust God sounds exactly like the testimonies that terrorized my imagination for so many years: I got cancer. I was getting out of the shower one day when I was 14 and noticed a lump in my neck, and by the time a year passed, I’d had three surgeries and radiation treatment, and it was all over. The whole thing is so surreal in my memory, but I know that God brought me and my family through it. Any time I got scared, I knew I could cry to God about it; every time I got put out so more pieces of me could be cut out, I knew that if I didn’t wake up on Earth, at least I’d wake up in Heaven. Honestly, the whole thing was a lot harder on my family than it was on me, and the label of “survivor” probably belongs more appropriately on my parents for watching me go through it than on me for simply not dying.
If getting cancer had any negative effect on my faith, it came a year or so after my clean bill of health, when I decided I was tired of needing to be grateful just to be alive. I decided I’d rather try to be a cool kid than a good Christian, which failed pretty badly, and that story is my real testimony of why I put my faith in Jesus.
Since then, God has given me so many outrageous reasons to trust him! And still I struggle. Each new step of faith is just that: a new step. Sometimes it helps to have the experience, to draw on that for courage and hope, but very often it is just as stomach-dropping as the first time I let Jesus be the boss.