Thursday, September 23, 2010

Have YOU prayed about it????

Sometimes I just cringe when people ask me 'Have you prayed about it?'. As I sit on the balcony, watching the last of light slip under the sky, the palm trees take on a silhouette glow, grill smells, cool breeze enters, I breathe easier, San Diego hot day is passed...

The praying question causes me to constrict my breath, hold it and freeze. I feel I have much to prove and a list of duties to perform before God.

“Have you prayed about it?” is the Christian's favorite trump card.People talk about prayer like it's some safety net from disaster, like some “ouch proof” thing, some shield from pain, bad decisions and people's lame choices and broken hearts. It's like the tag you read on boots, “water resistant” It seems prayer is correlated with pain resistance or at least the prosperity gospel at the very least.

It's not.

And yet God knows my heart and how I pray-how my being turns to Him. I don't want to blame God for my un-answered prayers and people's idiotic choices. “How did you let this happen?” I prayed! But God DID 'let' it happen??? God weeps over sin, pain, betrayal, He makes beauty from ashes, but I certainly don't think He ever desires pain. Love always seeks good. God seeks good.

Assuming prayer will block me from a broken heart, from health failures, from natural disasters and from traumatic events is not entirely accurate. I am not saying prayer 'can't', I'm saying it 'may not'.

I think we (well me) obsess about praying for the right career, the right job, where to live, move, be geographically, who to date, who to marry, what school to go to, what education, what to study, how much money we should make, even what to buy and not to buy. I pray for people, for family, for friends and I pray hard.

I often forget to pray over bondage and addictions. I forget to pray about the stuff that is actually eating me alive. It's hard. I pray for the right car, the right job, and the right grade while simultaneously freaking out. But maybe that's not what it's about.

On another level I could pray that I would hate what is evil and cling to what is good like Romans 12:9 talks about. I could pray that my being leans into that. I could pray to want that. I could pray that I would lean into God because he is good despite the pain I see and experience in the world.

One of my favorite quotes on prayer is by Ghandi. He says, “Prayer is not asking, it is the longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”

I do believe prayer is asking but I also believe longing is a deep form of pleading, asking, wanting, desiring in our spirits deep inside of us. It's me turning from darkness to light. It's me realizing God is in the room with me. It's me hating what is evil and clinging, holding onto good with my very last breath.

That's when God runs towards you.

It doesn't matter how far you are or what kind of bondage He saw that .00001 turn to light. He saw the choice in that hour to not fill your life with the empty. And even while you are filling life with emptiness, He caught your eye. You blinked. Your eye wanted light. Your eyes screamed freedom. He caught you looking at Him for a split second.

That's all it took and now he is running after you. Luke 15:20 says, “But when he was still a great way off, His Father saw him and had compassion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” or in the Message, “When he was still long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him...” I won't move into a theological discussion or exegetical study on this passage for it's a parable and that is not my point. But the message is powerful.

He is running towards me.

And He is running towards you.

I think that is prayer. One look towards home and God sees you before you pack your bags. He is already running. Him running

So while the question “Have you prayed about it?” sometimes drives me crazy, I will probably be guilty of asking you that question. Just know I'm not asking it so that you can check it off your list, or so that you can be guaranteed pain-proof. I'm not asking to make sure you are still a Christian and have avoided the latest cult. I'm not asking to sound religious or even spiritual. I'm asking because I know what happens when I lean into God, when my heart stumbles down a dirt road towards Him.

He runs towards me. And that changes everything.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I feel a little cold.

That seems to be rare for a summer day in San Diego. I am even having chicken noodle soup. Amazingly both the kids I nanny are sleeping also a rare thing.

That leaves me to my own internal monologue. In fact I have been left with my own internal narrative for days now -I am really getting tired of it. That is what happens when you roomates leave for the weekend, you come home to an empty house after nannying all day, and then writing papers after that. Summer school is finally coming to an end and with it comes my final papers. My head stuck in books, articles and re-writing, re-working, re-editing papers. The next morning I feel like a truck has run me over and I don't know why. The cries of the baby I nanny for seem to be on repeat some days like a broken record.

Maybe I just feel cold inside.

While the word "alone" used to never be so threatening, today it is. What is it about being alone that is so undesirable? I have had my times where I want my space. I cherish alone times. I enjoy the calmness and quiet. Other days it's like I want to live the college dream every day and have a social party every night. It's not realistic.

Most people don't want to do life alone though. I get that. Even the introverts.

As an extrovert I have weird tendencies such as actually isolating myself on purpose. My roomate Janice says she has never known anyone to have such big "space boundary" issues.

But once again, today I don't want space. I'm sure next week I will want my quiet space back, and then suddenly despise all over again.

A funny movie by yourself is not as hilarious by yourself. And a glass of wine doesn't taste as good without some conversation. The crayons don't taste as good without someone there to taste them with you...(wait a second, I mean color...why is Ruby eating crayons...Ruby looks at me blankly with her adorable little face) Um..right.

Anyway the point being. Today is lonely day. Lonely day is also normal day. And it will pass. So will the random shivers. For now I shall color with Ruby and find happiness in eating the tasty things in life :-)

Friday, August 13, 2010

I cannot drown out your love

My dance is not choreographed
It seems I am losing the motivation to truly stay sane
I'm giving in.
Feeling stuck inside my words
Needing to verbalize
the hurricane in my soul
Everything I try
ceases to make me whole
Someone taught me to swim
but swimming is not what I need
I need muscle mass to fight against the ever increasing stream
the currents are like ice wind
and I am against the flow
Everything in me has a dull ache
I begin to violently shake
No longer moving forward
I feel my body slide into frozen motion
Tears stream down my face
As the water makes its place up to my neck
* * * * * * * * * * * * *

God you are so disarming.
What you see echos deep and far from me
My dance is not so charming
A simultaneous fight with a white flag of surrender
Many waters cannot quench His love
I am giving in to agape
fighting still against the surge of waters
I do not wish to swim on dry land
Still I find myself tripping along some puddles with an odd flash flood warning sign taped across them.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I saw my tears in His eyes

So today at Starbucks I asked for an iced coffee. Some dude took mine and left me his. I didn't complain, he had a latte with 4 espresso shots. Not something I usually would get or want. Hence why I am up at 2am pondering the meaning of life.
I had all this motivation to clean my room and organize the daylights out of everything in my life. Then I watched a movie with Janice, "The Secret Life of Bees". based off the book by Sue Monk Kidd.

As my caffeine intake slowed my heart was able to listen.

The little girl goes through all this trauma, running from her family, abusive dad, dealing with the south and civil rights, wondering why her mom left, why her friend had to die, wrestling with God. Towards the end of the movie, even though things were much better for her and life had taken on a glow she said she still would wake up in the night with tears and the pain would come back. It was then she would get up and connect with forgiveness.

I think she was wracked with guilt for the things she had done. I also think she had to forgive the people in her life as well. Either way she would get up in the middle of the night and "touch God's heart" in a sense.

Cause that is God's heart.

I thought about the nights I wake up restless. The nights I am still awake due to coffee. The times I need to just look Jesus in the eye and FEEL the forgiveness. Sometimes I want to experience heaven now so I can fully understand what it means to feel no pain, no hurt. What is it like to have never wounded anyone's heart? What does it feel like to not carry my own wounds?

But when I look at the cross I realize Jesus already brought heaven to earth. I see that I can connect with the Rescuer any time of day or night. No matter how awful, how ugly, how painful, God can turn ashes to beauty. (Isaiah 61)

The fire may be over, the trauma, the initial sting of the pain, but now you have ashes. They are so lifeless. So formless. So black.

Well get ready, cause that is when God shows off His most artistic skills, He will transform those ashes into something so beautiful, so intoxicating, you won't even recognize where it came from. Ashes. And it doesn't really even matter because you are no longer who you used to be. You have touched His heart. You have felt his scars on his hands. And the forgiveness in His eyes is stronger than your greatest pain, your reckless guilt, your bleeding soul, you know because you saw the tears in his eyes.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Wedding Twist: A going away party.

Weddings are interesting.

I just got back from my cousin's wedding. As I was trying to prepare a speech for the dinner rehearsal I got to thinking about what a wedding was really about. I talked to my sister and she was all, "Weddings are so weird, they are like funerals, everyone just talks about the past like it's the good old days, like you'll never talk to the couple again" I thought that was so true. In fact, weddings aren't quite like a funeral as far as devastation goes and mourning. But they are very much like massive going away parties.

Everyone cries. The family feels a loss. They reminisce over happy memories and brace themselves for the future. It's funny because it's not like the couple is moving over seas to Africa or leaving to Iceland. They actually might end up on your street as your neighbor, though you will never step foot on their yard till approxiamately 2 months later and only before 6pm. What a strange un-spoken rule!

But I get it. When my sisters get married, maybe I'll cry. My sister will probably go off to Africa in reality. But when I left for college, I left my sisters and I cried about that. When they get married I might cry from relief that they married well and are happy. I don't think I'll cry cause it's over or because it's me saying good-bye.

People joke about weddings being the beginning of life or the end. It's either a death sentence or a life sentence. A new birth or the end of a journey. While it's mixture of both, the wedding is certainly not solely the beginning or the end of life as we know it.

I have been considering Jesus and his talk of marriage and weddings in the New Testament. I have come to the conclusion that a wedding any day is stronger than a funeral. Why? Because what we gain is more than what we lose in the end. I don't know if this makes sense but maybe a wedding is not the starting line of a race or the finishing line, maybe it is the journey. The marriage is the journey. When I get to heaven and meet Jesus face to face I'll think I'll realize this. Because after all when you enter into eternity, there is no beginnings and endings. There is no start or finish. It just IS.

You can say good-bye to the going-away parties we throw all the time. :-)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The genre of life

A person's life is much too complicated to write a mere novel. One's life has multiple plots, sub-plots, and too many characters altogether and a wide variety of genres. This is not a feature film we are living. I was watching Garfield on TV this morning and he said, “My biggest stress is whether or not I'll make on time to my afternoon nap, from my morning nap.” That made the show apparently. There are of course other shows on other things, The Office, humor, The Bachelor, bursting at the seams with drama, Prison Break, action, LOST, mystery and some sci-fi thrown in and don't forget all the soaps!

They solely focus around one genre, that is how they market. Our lives aren't so easy. Our lives are not about one thing. They are about everything. Even the shows that throw in a little mix of romance and suspense they still only have one job, one best-friend, one boyfriend, and one terrorist attack. Not 5 jobs, 10 best friends, 6.5 stalkers and long days and long nights were nothing is actually happening.

That's the irony, one minute life is romantic, suspenseful, action packed and humorous, the next it is so boring and so dull you hope the only one watching is the little girl you nanny for cause at least she appears entertained.Is God even amused? Somehow we'll watch Garfield nap but cringe upon moments in our lives that no longer are about everything. In fact they appear to be about essentially nothing.

Is God the author? Is He the script writer or am I? And if He is, how come nothing is happening?!? On the other hand if He is the director of this show, a director will never drag an audience through a character's minute by minute job search for two months. A direction will never have a camera crew watch some sob story second by second of a girl's repeated break up with the same man 3 times. Or for that matter, a nanny's hour by hour , 'wow', 'good job', 'truck', 'bottle' job. Seems God watches these kind of things, ever so closely. Maybe God is the audience, surprisingly.

What is God looking for? What exactly is the plot? Is there a happy ending or is it a dark comedy? Does God hover over my life ever so gracefully but shockingly strong with creature like wings. God hovering over my life of chaos, the work of the sculpture's hands, the author's mind.

Intrigued I catch a glimpse of His eye. A twinkle in His eye, He winks. Caught off guard I swallow the lump in my throat. He does know what this story is about. Stumbling through a foggy blackness I trip over a match involuntarily lit by an orange glow. Perhaps what I say is true, Life is about everything, and the yet the is also about just one thing...