Months later, I’ve accepted - even enjoyed - this truth that our family is now 7. I haven’t held her in my arms yet, but she’s definitely a part of this family. Yet, still, there’s this boulder in the pit of my soul that keeps asking those questions brought to the surface by those two little lines. What if all I’ve believed in is a fairy tale? What if all of this religion is just... religion? What if none of this really matters? Then, what? What purpose do I have? To raise kids? To teach English? It all seems so worthless then. 
And the day-to-day of the future still looms before me, like a mountain casting shadows over everything. How will I manage 5 children? All 8 and under? The youngest 3 will be 3 and under! I’ve known some wonderful moms to raise 3 kids 3 and under, but there are two more older! (Not to mention, those moms seem to be so much better at it all than I am.) How will we pay to feed them, clothe them, for childcare, for medical bills? The monthly budget is already stretched tight, with no raises for perhaps years in the future. 
With white knuckles, I try to hold on to the things that I’ve felt were true even in the darkest wells. Nature. Creation. It has to point to a Creator. But, does that Creator really care about me? The Bible seems to say so. Is that enough for me? That The Book says it’s true, so it must be? Do I need more? Does that make me a bad believer? I guess it doesn’t really make me a believer at all. If I have proof of something, then I don’t “believe” it; I know it. If I want to believe something, I have to trust something, namely the one telling me, or at least the facts presented. So, is that what I’m lacking? Trust? Is that why I’ve only attained “religion” and not “relationship”? Is that why I don’t believe, deep in my soul, that God delights in me, as so many have told me He does? Is it that I don’t trust? What, then, don’t I trust? God? The Bible? Christians? Well, I know the answer to one of those. I don’t trust Christians - people - in general. They’ll lie and cheat just like every other human. I trust individuals, but not all. So, then, is it the Bible? Is it God? 
It’s hard for a person with a brain wired like mine to trust in God. I don’t trust much of anything. I need proof. You tell me this medicine works - prove it. I want to see research. You are trying to sell me the best carseat/ minivan/ carpet cleaner? Prove to me why it’s better. Show me all the details of how it works, how the competition works and why yours is better. God doesn’t work that way. He operates on trust. If I have researched carseats until I’m practically an expert (and I have), it doesn’t take much for me to trust that the seat will do its job. I know it. I don’t believe it; I’ve seen the proof; I’ve broken down the facts and figures. I don’t believe it or trust it; I know it. I can’t do that with God. I can’t prove that He exists. Sure, there are apologetics, but there are plenty of naysayers too. I have to decide, I have to choose, to simply trust, blindly. No guarantee. Only hope. 
Is that such a bad thing? Hope. Hope keeps people going in the worst of situations. In fact, hope keeps people going - hoping - when the facts, figures, and research are all dismal. When the child is dying of cancer, the mother with hope somehow gets up every morning and cherishes the moments with her kid. The mother who believes, trusts, the doctors’ predicted outcome, what does she do? She puts on a happy face for her child? And if the child dies, then what does this mother have? The promised outcome? What does the other mother have? Does she still have hope? Some do. So, in practical terms, what does it hurt to hope? To trust? To believe? What do I have to lose? Discontentment, anger, pain, anxiety? What does not trusting truly give me? A sense of control, perhaps, but only a sense. If I don’t trust, and God is still really there, He’s still in control (allowing, of course, for my free will to make decisions to trust or not to trust). And all I have to show for it would be bitterness. 
So, if I’ve decided that trust is worthwhile, how do I transfer that from the practical part of me that sees the benefits of trusting, to the heart? The heart that hurts and isn’t sure? How does it become more than simply a practical way to live? Can I push my heart to trust? Will it obey my command? I suppose the Bible says it does. And if I’m going to trust God, I have to trust the Bible. I’ll give it a try. 
This mental struggle continues for days until, reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, she tackles this very issue. She struggles with these same questions: “Can trust be conjured up simply by sheer will, on command? I’ve got to get this thing, what it means to trust, to gut-believe in the good touch of God toward me because it’s true: I can’t fill with joy until I learn to trust: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow’ (Romans 15:13)” It’s almost like God just thumped me on the head, saying, “I am the God of HOPE. I fill you with JOY and PEACE. But I do so only as YOU TRUST. And why? Why? So that you may OVERFLOW.” Now, I’m beginning to thump myself on the head. This image that’s been bothering me, this overflowing cup, spilling over and making a mess on the new tablecloth. He uses it again. This metaphor - HIS metaphor - that I’ve been distorting. This cleverness I feel I have, He smashes it. With a look that I’ve given my kids, that you-know-perfectly-well-that’s-not-what-I-meant look, He reminds me that He wants to fill my cup with joy and peace. And what have I been doing? Running away from him, hand over cup, yelling at him for doing so! When all I have to do is stop and trust that what He’s pouring in is good. 
What I realize as I’m reading this book is that, for a long time now, I’ve believed in God - in those things I keep coming back to: nature, photosynthesis, flowers, a Creator, but I haven’t necessarily believed in a good God. I’ve believed He was there, and even was in control. On a cognitive level, I’ve said that God wants what’s best for me. I’ve repeated that He will work for good for us. But, deep, down where my true beliefs lie, the ones that aren’t always clear or based on anything rational, I’ve not trusted Him. I’ve felt as though this Christian life is a series of hoops that must be jumped, trials that must be beaten, or simply lived through. Joy and peace had no place in this life I’ve been leading. It’s been drudgery. Just survive one more hardship, take a breath, and wait for the next one. Like that family friend that keeps dunking you in the pool over and over. You just have to get a breath long enough to make you survive the next one.
That’s not life. That’s nothing like joy and peace. Yet, God is offering joy and peace in the midst of all of this. How do I get it? I trust. I trust that He’s not dunking me in the pool, but holding me as the ocean’s waves crash over us. Keeping me afloat and safe when all I know is I can’t breathe. I am not even aware of all the trouble surrounding me, out there in the ocean, I think it’s a pool with a concrete bottom and steps to climb out. I’m thrashing, screaming for Him to let me go. Just let me go be with my friends, the ones I know are somewhere playfully splashing and doing handstands in the water. He knows. He knows every single danger waiting in the murky depths of the ocean. He won’t let me go, despite my pleas. If I would rest, simply trust in the strength of His arms to keep me safe, then I would have peace (and rest!). Then, I might be able to find the joy in the beauty of the landscape. But I can’t see those things while I’m desperately trying to convince Him that I know better.