I like iced lavender lattes now. In the fall it was iced honey almond lattes, and then for the winter it was amaretto lattes, but now it’s iced lavender.
Change is rarely noticed unless it’s catastrophic or world-changing. Moving to college. Noticeable. Changing your coffee order into a different “regular.” More of a gradual thing. Getting into a relationship. Noticeable. Slipping into intimacy issues with God. Not as noticeable until you’re deep in it. Having a debilitating injury. Noticeable. God’s voice becoming less and less noticeable. Also an unfortunate gradual thing.
I’ve lost the intimacy. I plead for an intimate relationship with my God. Knees-to-the-carpet and fists-clenched-together plead for an intimate relationship with God. It’s the kind of desire that actually makes you physically ache. I trekked through the mud and made it out of the darkness to think I would find Him standing in a lovely field of flowers and lock eyes with the One who set me free, but that hasn’t been the case. It’s been day in and day out of searching through the wilderness, with little tricks that make me think I’ve found Him only to find it’s just a heightening of my emotions. What’s to say I will really find Him? I keep looking, but when will it really and truly feel like, This is it. Here He is. My Maker. Here He is. It sort of feels like a scavenger hunt; I get little hints of Him here and there, but I still haven’t gotten the full picture of Him or at least a resounding whisper of, Here I am. That’s what I’m looking for, but maybe I’m looking for the wrong thing. Maybe that’s the problem.
I could compare Him to a lot of things, but no metaphor will ever do Him justice. He is the Great I Am, and my words could never adequately explain that to you. I understand that.
Do I ask for too much? I mean that on a serious note, not a drama-queen question. Do I seriously ask too much in prayer? I went from asking asking asking to pouring out thanksgiving and praise and not really asking much of Him to trying to find a happy medium of both and nothing. Should I ask Him for things? Is that selfish, considering what He’s already given me? But I want to voice my worries and concerns to Him. I want to cry out to Him. I want Him to hear me. I want to know that He hears me.
One of my favorite bloggers sent out a Monday morning email a while back that mentioned the prayer journal of Flannery O’Connor. I thought I would give someone else’s prayers a try & here we are: me sitting in my favorite coffee shop and having my brain almost explode because of how much I relate to these prayers. Questions. Tons of questions and doubts and feelings of mediocrity. I feel you, Flannery. I feel you.
“Can’t anyone teach me how to pray?…. Dear God, I don’t want to have invented my faith to satisfy my weakness. I don’t want to have created God to my own image as they’re so fond of saying…. I don’t know if I’ve ever been sorry for a sin because it hurt You…. Don’t ever let me think, dear God, that I was anything but the instrument for Your story–just like the typewriter was mine…. All this disgusts me in myself but does not fill me with the poignant feeling I should have to adore You with, to be sorry with, or to thank You with. Perhaps the feeling I keep asking for, is something again selfish–something to help me to feel that everything with me is all right…. I want so to love God all the way.”
Yes. Homerun. Out of the park. Grand slam. Hole in one. Strike. Score. Boom boom. Insert any other sports metaphor for earning points and that’s what she’s done for me. I’ve pined over these pages for a little over an hour, and the words have melted my heart. 40 pages of pure, heart-wrenching, brutally-honest-with-God prayers. And I needed some of that because I feel like I’m going crazy not knowing how to actually form an intimate relationship with God and just talk to Him. I just want to talk to Him & I can’t for the life of me figure out what’s holding that back.
He mends. He restores. He loves. He quenches. He fills. He is stable. He is fulfilling. He is more than enough. He is pleased with us. So while I might think that my prayers are too feeble or too awkward, He responds anyways because that’s not how He sees them. He sees them through Jesus. Our prayers are perfected in Jesus. Our communication with God is perfected through Jesus. How comforting is it to know that our words are understood and interpreted by a perfect and blameless Son?
I talked to Him as many times as I thought of it today. Behind a table, in between deep breaths of frustration. In the laundry room between switching my laundry from the washer to the dryer. I kid you not, I stood in the laundry room of our dorm hall and I talked to God and asked Him for patience and peace and understanding in the best way I knew how to. I prayed when I fell asleep last night. That hadn’t happened in a while. I was once told that the things that consume your mind the most are the things you think about right before you’re falling asleep or right when you get up in the morning. Now, I don’t know if that’s just some hypothetical thing people have been reading in pretty fonts on Tumblr or Pinterest, but I agree that it holds at least a little bit of truth. Things will consume you if you let them. And I’ve always been told that is a horrible, awful, dreadful thing. But how beautiful a thing to let God consume you; to be completely consumed by the One who put you here in the first place and handcrafted your calling and makes you wonder all the time. That is what I want to consume me: the breathtaking wonder of such a perfect God.
“I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think You’re like, but I’ve heard the tender whisper of Love in the dead of night, and You tell me that You’re pleased and that I’m never alone. You’re a good good Father.”
And I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone sees God in different ways. God is different to every person on this planet. Some people see Him in trees and flowers and every blade of grass He ever made. Some people see Him in tastes. Some people hear Him in songs and birds and musical instruments. Some people feel Him moving in their everyday lives. Some people hear Him in prayers. Some people find Him right in His Word. Some people find Him deep in theology textbooks. Some people find Him in preaching and standing before an entire congregation.
And I think my problem is this: I don’t know where I find Him. Typing those words was really hard and, honestly, a bit painful. I don’t know where I find God. I could write you a list of places I’ve found Him before, but upon returning to those places or not being able to return to those specific moments, I have come to find that I rarely find Him again in those same places. I would like to think He’s random, but I know He’s not. I’ve found Him in the window seat of Swift. I’ve found Him in prayer before I gave my testimony to a room full of high school students, the kind of prayer where every hand is on you and everyone is going at once and the room is sort of spinning but in the best way possible and you’re so hyped up on caffeine that you don’t know if you’ll pass out before you walk out on stage or if you’ll actually make it through the full 25 minutes. You don’t forget a prayer like that. You don’t forget finding Him in Psalm 28 while Bible-thumbing on what you would later realize was the morning of the worst day of your life thus far. You don’t forget the way you felt when you realized that Jesus had all you wanted. That was it. I was consumed. I’ve found Him in prayers in bathrooms when I realized praying was the only thing I could do. I’ve found Him in writing Bible study curriculum. I’ve found Him in the hearts of each of the girls I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring. I’ve found Him in prayers over Skype. I’ve found Him in walks across Berry’s campus. I’ve found Him in a chapel at 3 o’clock in the morning. I’ve found Him in the taste of a cup of coffee. I’ve found Him in very special conversations where I knew He made Himself a cozy little spot among the “What are you passionate about?“s and “What would you do for the rest of your life if money was no object?“s. I’ve found Him in mine and my mother’s baptisms. I’ve found Him in tear-filled worship. I’ve found Him in goodbye hugs. I’ve found Him in a run in the midst of one of the saddest events I’ve ever experienced. I’ve found Him in the fog of my own mind. I’ve found Him on the floor of my dorm room. I’ve found Him in walks in the snow with a dear friend. I’ve found Him in the joy I get from holding babies. I’ve found Him in hand-holding.
I’ve found Him in the words I’ve written. I’ve found Him so many times, but when I come back to find Him again, it’s like He’s gone. It’s sort of like going back to your old high school room or an old room at a house from your childhood and expecting to have the same feelings you had when you were 8 or 18. But it doesn’t work like that. I don’t know how it works yet, but it doesn’t work like that (stay tuned, I’m working on it, God willing). And it’s not that I can’t find Him because He is always here, but it’s that I don’t recognize Him. It takes a lot for me to recognize His presence. I want to be able to recognize it more. I want to seek and find more. I want to know Him more. I want my heart to be in sync with His. I want to know my calling and His will for my life. Yes, He reveals that to me daily, but I want to know for sure, 100% I am doing what He requires of me. That’s my greatest desire: to have enough intimacy with the One who created me to know that I am doing exactly what He requires of me.