I suck at saying prayers. In nearly every capacity in which it’s possible to suck at saying prayers, I currently do. I stutter over words, I can barely get a thought out and my attention span rivals that of a goldfish. Most days it never even crosses my mind to attempt to say hello to God despite the presence of an app on my phone that pops up periodically and tells me to do just that. Adding insult to injury, is the fact that it wasn’t always like this…
I grew up in the church. From a young age, my mother cultivated in me a love of language and words. As such, by the time I was in junior high I found myself able to speak insightful, soulful prayers into existence with nary a thought. It never won me any awards, but I felt good about it.
Enter the Great Silence.
I’ve mentioned it repeatedly as it’s the reason this blog exists, but for now, suffice it to say the event effed my $h!+ up. I stand on this side of the vast Godless chasm that had become my life, and things are better… But not a day goes by that I am unaware of the scars that mark my broken soul. Chief among them is my inability to express myself like I used to. The words don’t pour out of me like they once did.
I once heard a story about a guy who needed to rent a moving van, but didn’t have much money. Instead of getting the big mama-jama truck, all he could afford was the glorified station wagon. He realized that in order to make everything fit, he would have to be very strategic. So, he started packing his stuff like it was made out of Tetris blocks. No inch of space went unused. When he finally got the van filled, he dusted his hands, turned around, and realized he still had a yard full of items that still needed packed. No matter what, something was going to get thrown away. His only choice was to empty out the van, prioritize, and try again.
I feel like I’m standing in the yard, sweaty and exhausted. My beliefs, ideals, and relationships are crammed into boxes that are mislabeled and spilling out into the grass. If I’m going to figure out why after all this time, I still feel broken, I think I’m going to have to sift through these boxes and look for answers to the questions I’ve been too scared to ask:
- Is it possible that I used to be able to write beautiful things about God because I hadn’t had a real “dark night of the soul” experience yet?
- Is it possible that despite my best intentions, I’m keeping God at arm’s length as a defense mechanism?
- Am I just doing it wrong? Does God just want me to stand up, close my eyes, and sing like everyone else? Is the whole notion of this blog flawed? Am I wasting my time looking for God in weird places when the vast majority of the church knows exactly how to get a hold of him on Sunday mornings?
- Is it just a matter of reading my Bible and praying more?
- Am I actually out of the Great Silence? Have I just been telling myself that things are better because I couldn’t cope with living life the way I was? Is God still unwilling to speak to me?
- Was God talking and despite my best efforts and intentions, I completely missed it?Am I still missing it?
I don’t know the answer to any of these questions yet… But I can’t help but feel finding the answers is the next step to packing up my moving van and going somewhere good.