Prayer in the Night

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I’m done searching for a miracle.

Done asking for fixed things.

I won’t plead with You any longer to release these bruises from my bones.

Or to lift the ink from my heartskin.

I don’t need restoration like I need to know You.

So, don’t take away this achiness.

Don’t let Lonely leave.

I hate her.

More than I’ve ever hated anyone.

But, You said she can stay-

So, she can’t be that bad.

Keep me here.

Trapped in a world I can’t see clearly…

Fuck my eyesight.

Because, there’s nothing worth seeing if I cannot see it with You.

You see in darkness as you see in light…

Will you see enough for me?

Let all I have lost remain lost.

Cast away into the infinity of finiteness.

What is any of it worth, if I am lost from You?

It hurts.

Oh it hurts.

To love with this mess of a chest.

The imperfect trying to love the imperfect will always be imperfect.

The imperfect trying to love the Perfect? It too will always be imperfect.

But You the Perfect, loving the imperfect, will always be Perfect.

So, Leave me in the pit.

In this groaning flesh.

In this sickness.

In the inexhaustible pain of existing here…

Just please don’t leave my side.

Miracles won’t help me now.

One thrilling, blood-tingling, impossible happening,

Would leave me cold just the same as the mundane.

It could never be enough.

I need a lasting happening.

Happening and moving constantly from one ache to the next.

I need a True Love.

A Transformational, Supernatural, All-consuming fire.

You.

Will You be enough for me?

 

A YEAR WITHOUT FAITH

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God.

If you’d asked me a little over a year ago about God, I could have told you.

For 8 years, God, Jesus, and Christianity were the main focus of my life.

I believed.

I did all the things.

Studying, praying, attending church services 3 times a week unwaveringly, and even taking a very public platform to propagate the message of Jesus Christ to others.

I was the perfect “good girl”. Especially to those who didn’t know me but knew the image of me that was portrayed.

I never liked it that way. I knew very well that I was not worthy of the pedestal I was thrust upon.

I wanted to be seen.

Understood.

Not as the “good girl”, but for the person I really was.

I envisioned a life where I loved God and served people on a deeper level while also being loved through my own wildly outrageous failings as a human being. (Rather than having those failings wished away or ignored)

It was my deepest desire to show that love to others as well.

So, I made the intensely difficult decision to step out of the spotlight and into the quieter pursuit of community and behind the scenes work.

I had every intention of building this new life I had envisioned.

I would get involved in a local church, volunteer, travel, write, and discover more of God and more of myself in Christ.

…And then the unspeakable happened to my heart.

It was a massacre like nothing I had ever experienced before in my life, and it left me questioning EVERYTHING I believed.

Is there a God?

If there is, how could He not save me from this?

Why are my prayers not enough?

If this is my fault, where is His mercy?

Where does faith come from?

Does He even care?

How can I do all of these things He expects me to do?

Is He really who He says He is, and if so how can I get to Him?

Do I even want to get to Him?

Why did He make me?

Why did He make anything? Because it seems so pointless and so selfish…

I was so angry at God and so conflicted with these questions and so very, very alone as I tried to hang onto my beliefs.

My year of more meaning became a year without faith.

No faith in God, no faith in people, no faith in hope for me.

I studied worldviews and gave audience to atheism, naturalism, postmodernism, and transcendentalism.

Truly, some days all that kept me reaching for God was fear of losing my soul, not out of reason or trust.

I became twisted. Hateful. Self-loving.

It was F*** me and F*** the world like the angst-y teenager I thought I’d left far behind.

Yet, in all of my writhing, I saw people.

I mean, I saw people.

I saw Atheists, Muslims, Gay people, Transcendentalists, Politicians, Criminals, and especially Christians.

And I realized so clearly that we are all simply doing the best we can with the information we have been given, but we have all been given different information.

Whether through DNA or circumstance not a one of us in unbiased in our beliefs.

All of the questions about God and all that He entails therefore, cannot be answered by any one of us.

No religion, including Christianity, has all of the answers either.

Christians will say that Jesus IS the answer. And that may be true, but even if you follow Him to the point of martyrdom as some do, He would still keep some mysteries of the universe to Himself, as they are perhaps not ours to know.

It scared me to question God at first.

Who am I to point my finger at the Creator and say things like “Why have you made me? I’d rather not have been made”. But now that I have wrestled, I truly believe that Jesus is it for me.

Life seems unbearable without the hope of something better. There is much pain here.

Our bodies will fail us, our friends will fail us, our families will fail us, our religions will fail us, our possessions will fail us, our fame will fail us, our works will fail us, our talents will fail us, our goodness will fail us. And we indeed will fail ourselves sometimes without even realizing it.

People are complicated and confused and broken.

I need to believe in something that will not fail me even if it turns out not to be true. And that I believe is true for everyone. It seems to me, that Jesus is the safest place to land and that there is in fact evidence that He IS true.

For those that do not draw the same conclusion as I do, I do not judge you nor do I blame you nor do I think you are an evil person for doing so.

I especially hope that the drawing of differing conclusions does not divide us. It makes more sense to me that it would UNITE us. Having respect for the fact that we all had to do some serious work, wrestling, and thinking to arrive at our individual conclusions.

We all must question and never stop until we’re satisfied with legitimate reasons. No matter the path you follow, there will be consequences, pain, more questions… and hopefully ultimate peace.

From all of my questioning I am a better human being who very much just wants to explore truth with my fellow human beings.

I want to listen intently and compassionately to every doubter of the Christian faith. Not dismissing their questions but validating them and answering them as completely and comprehensively as possible as a fellow confused human who has plenty of questions herself.

No one needs a superficial conversion. No one needs fake faith or “good enough” strength.

Whatever conclusion you draw about this life, question it. Wrestle with it. Be certain it stands. It will take time, tears, more time, work, uncomfortable conversations, and unanswered prayers, but it is worth it.

God, Social Media, and Taylor Swift

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Whether you like her, dislike her, used to like her, or used to NOT like her, you definitely know who I’m talking about when I say: Taylor Swift. You also know that just over a week ago she released her new album “Reputation”. She is arguably the most famous pop star of this generation. Even if you actively try to avoid hearing about her, you can’t. I’ve often told people that during every significant event in my life since her debut, there has been a Taylor Swift song playing. Sounds dramatic, but it’s actually not! I could write a whole post on just that alone!

Being the “Swiftie” that I am, I couldn’t wait for her new album to come in the mail. Her choice in the release of her first single “Look What You Made Me Do” combined with the title “Reputation” for the album gave me and the rest of the world the impression that this album was going to be about revenge. But, when I played it for the first time I found something entirely different. The title “Reputation” is accurate, but the theme of the album isn’t just Taylor’s reputation in the media, it’s so much broader than that. It’s about all of us in this culture obsessed with portraying ourselves a certain way online.

If you post something negative about your life on facebook without the words “please pray for me” tacked onto the end, people will probably get mad at you for it or find it extremely annoying. Obviously, no one wants to see on their news feed that which should be reserved for people you are actually close with. Makes everyone uncomfortable. So, instead of doing THAT most of us just post our proudest moments, our best hair days, our prettiest meals, and of course our most flattering gym selfies. Posting on social media platforms is like putting our families’ scrapbooks on display for literally the entire world to see, except with more details.

And we like our “likes”. The attention and false sense of connection to others drives us into addiction. I’m guilty. It’s nerve wracking to be away from your smart phone these days. We want to be involved, we want to know what’s going on, we want to parade our lives about and show people how great and fine we’re doing even when we are falling apart. It’s comforting to us somehow, knowing that in the worlds of facebook, twitter, and instagram our lives look really great. Online, we create the kind of person we want to be and portray ourselves that way. And sometimes, others even twist that ideal we’ve created into something ugly and use it against us. Much in the way the media portrays Taylor as being a serial dater.

We as a society hold the belief that “If I don’t post it on social media, then it probably didn’t happen.” No one consciously believes this, but you know the feeling when something good is happening and you just HAVE to get your camera out so you can post it. I think that posting about things gives us a sense of permanence. It’s like we are writing a history book of our lives with deleted chapters and fake names. And we write it to be remembered…the histories of the glories of our lives forever preserved in pixels and data clouds.

We all have a reputation. Here’s the thing though, God is writing the actual history book. With real names and with every chapter accounted for and written out in black and white. Our preoccupation with our image and social media really points to a deeper underlying desire that we all have. We want to have beautiful lives and to be remembered. But, we forget that we are already remembered. Christ remembers us every day. Whether you’ve accepted Him or not. AND! He wants to make our lives beautiful. His beautiful looks absolutely nothing like our beautiful though. It doesn’t happen on our proudest days but on our humblest ones. Our idea of beauty is something that draws attention to itself, while His is in the little acts of faithfulness that only He sees.

I’m not shaming social media. This isn’t a battle cry to banish it from our lives forever. I’m a millennial to the core and I and think it’s a great tool. This is just a post for a moment of thought on the subject. I don’t think it should be as consuming to us as it is. Like, while you’re busy taking a picture of something with your smart phone, you’re forgetting to take a picture of it with your own eyes and store it in your mind. When we escape into our fantasy lives online, we start losing interest in our real ones. We want our likes from man so much that we forget to want the approval of a God who actually sees and knows everything about us.

Let’s become our real selves. Good, bad, and ugly because it’s all a part of a story to give God the glory! Your moments DO matter and they DID happen whether you post about them or not. So, take it easy with those post and tweet buttons! You don’t have to try so hard. ❤

All-or-Nothing

 

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“You’re such a perfectionist!” These words have been spoken to me on countless occasions. Whether at work, school, or play I listen to people moan and groan about how I always want things to be exactly right. And while they’re going on about it I stand there with my arms crossed wondering why it’s frustrating them so much.

What IS so wrong with being a perfectionist? Isn’t that a good quality to have? Perfectionism is a highly encouraged trait, especially in American society where we place so much value on hard work and climbing the ladder to success. After all, perfectionists are organized, high achieving, and often extremely successful. Who wouldn’t want to be that? Unfortunately, as I’m learning, that isn’t the entire story.

On the outside, their lives seem so put together. They get the A’s, stick to their schedules, and fix everything that’s out of place. But, what happens when they don’t? What happens when the red ink pen comes out? Or how about when something interrupts their perfectly balanced schedule? I’ll tell you this: It ain’t good. All of those high expectations and the constant pressure to perform can quickly become damaging when their humanity strikes a blow. Perfectionists are at a higher risk for mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

Perfectionism has pervaded my life in more subtle ways as well, creeping into decisions, habits, and thoughts until I’ve become consumed with its voice and started to believe I am who it says that I am. For a long time, I didn’t see how trying to be perfect was holding me back from living fully. I didn’t understand that joy doesn’t come from getting everything exactly right. Until one day when I looked at my life and just wondered: why?

Why does my life look like this? Why did I ever go on that extreme diet? Why did I quit taking piano lessons? Why isn’t singing fun anymore? Why can’t I play board games with my friends? Why am I procrastinating on this class? And the worst why of all: Why is it so hard for me to see God in any of this?

And here’s the “why”- Perfectionists suffer from All-or-Nothing thinking. Here are a few examples to illustrate.

Oh, I only have 30 minutes to do this today, and I really need an hour and a half, so I’m just not gonna do any of it because I won’t be able to get it all done.

Ugh, I had so much sugar for lunch today; forget eating a nutritious dinner because my progress is already ruined.

I messed up on that part, and that part, and that part on this song, so clearly I sang the whole song horribly and should never sing it again because what’s the point if I can’t get the whole thing right?

All-or-nothing means either the whole task gets completed or none of it does. It means that if you eat a cookie, then the salad won’t help. The whole song is right or none of it is. There is no middle ground, there is no moderate view. And we hate incompleteness. We avoid it at all costs even if it means procrastinating because we can’t get it all done. Living that way makes it extremely hard to see any good anywhere. It makes it hard to accomplish anything. It makes you miserable. And the most horrible thing is that it is a complete and total lie.

When we are pursuing perfection. Perfection becomes our god. If perfection becomes our god, then guess where we are going to place our worth? All the while the One True God is calling. Perfection Himself, Jesus Christ, invites us into His presence on this earth and one day in Heaven to partake of a perfect Kingdom in a perfect body. THAT is what’s worth pursuing. Jesus is the One who will make us perfect. We could never do it ourselves, but we try to believe the lie that we can for the sake of pride.

I’m exhausted from chasing an unobtainable perfection when I should’ve been chasing the available Perfection.

But, here’s the good news: all I have to do is turn around and run the other way. With the wind instead of against it. And that’s exactly what you can do too.

1st Corinthians 15: 51-58

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.