In my women's group, we're currently reading through Wild and Free - a book that speaks straight to the souls of women who constantly feel like they're too much and not enough all at the same time. Which, from what I'm gathering, seems to be a widespread female (and probably male) issue. Phew, I thought it was just me.
Well, during our debrief, we got on the topic of praying your desires to God, being open, honest and transparent with Him (which I'm, like, terrible at to begin with). It was the third time I've had a conversation with people about this in the past month or so, but I'd really been struggling with it.
So I thought I'd bring it to the group, "Ladies, real talk. I don't know how to "pray my desires" without getting totally wrapped up in them. Then I'm supposed to live in reality? It's near impossible for me to do. And quite frankly, I can't take this emotional see-saw of hoping in God, praying for things and then being disappointed when nothing happens. I hate to say it, but what's the point in praying if God is sovereign and He's totally going to do His thing anyways?!" Not my cutest moment, but I'm trying this whole vulnerability thing (thank you Brene Brown) and well, that's honestly how I was feeling.
I was relieved when I got a few head nods, signifying okay, I wasn't the only one thinking this. Some of the ladies gave words of wisdom, shot some Scripture my way and reminded me of examples of when God did in fact show up in my life post-prayer. And I so appreciated it, because all those things were true. But, I wanted different answers to this particular question. STAT.
The next morning I woke up and my Year of the Bible landed me in Luke 11:5-13 (NIV, emphasis mine)-
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
So over the past week, I just laid it out there. Pages and pages journaling through what I was feeling - searching for water, anything to quench the spiritual dryness I'd been feeling. Tears were a-blazing.
"God, here are the lies I'm believing about You. All fifty of them. And even though I cognitively know they are lies, they are feeling pretty dang true right now. So if you could show up and dispel them I would really, really appreciate it. Let's chat about this again tomorrow."
The next morning I woke up and I felt nothing. So back into Scripture I went, this time revisiting Luke 6: 17-21 (MSG, emphasis mine).
Coming down off the mountain with them, he stood on a plain surrounded by disciples, and was soon joined by a huge congregation from all over Judea and Jerusalem, even from the seaside towns of Tyre and Sidon. They had come both to hear him and to be cured of their ailments. Those disturbed by evil spirits were healed. Everyone was trying to touch him—so much energy surging from him, so many people healed! Then he spoke:
You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all.
God’s kingdom is there for the finding.
You’re blessed when you’re ravenously hungry.
Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal.
You’re blessed when the tears flow freely.
Joy comes with the morning.
So I woke up the next morning, hoping for that joy. But again, nothing.
"Throw me a bone. I just poured my heart out to you. Are you going to show up any time in the near future? Make something fall from the sky. Direct me towards a passage that makes sense. Anything."
And then it hit me. I was finally being super vulnerable with God. It's like we had broken this barrier of intimacy. Slowly I could feel my well filling up again. I'd always been so formal with God, having neatly wrapped prayer bows - as if that would disguise the actual messy thoughts and doubts in my brain. What He actually wanted was for me to come to Him open and honest and inviting Him into the process, letting Him piece my heart back together.
And God showed up. He made it super clear that He sees me. Now, I still haven't gotten any direct answers to all my questions and I really don't expect to in the near future, but my posture has changed. The opportunity to be vulnerable is saving me.
Some of the current, honest conversations we're having:
Your glory's going to be shown through this? Cool, I'll wait - even if I'm not happy about it.
You want me to keep coming to you? Awesome, I'll invest in some more Moleskines.
Need me to take a chill pill while you do your thing? I mean, I'll work on it.