I prayed today.
It was the first time in a while. If you don’t count me looking down at my hands as I half-listen half-question words slipping out of the mouth of someone else with Sunday school closed eyes. It was only because someone asked me to. It actually happened twice. I forget this is what happens in Christian school.
“Lindsay, would you mind closing us in prayer?”
Cue mind surge of the honest answers:
To be honest with you, I am not sure if I believe in prayer. That prayer makes a difference. That things will be different in the future because I prayed in this moment. I feel like whatever happens in the next twenty minutes is going to happen regardless. Ever since my dad was diagnosed with brain cancer I have trouble believing that there is a God who actually responds to the words shaped by our minds and hearts. And if you take a second to think about it, we assume all responsibility while letting God off the hook. We defend him even when he doesn’t come through. We’ve put all this stock and confidence and hope in not just an all-powerful but an all-loving God. So how do we continue to reconcile answers of “no” and “not yet?” Because my logic tells me that if someone has the power to do something good and doesn’t, that makes that someone sort of cruel. And last time I checked it is hard to be cruel and the essence of love. But please correct me if I’m wrong. Oh how I want to be wrong. My mind can preach the right answers. That I’m not allowed to test God. Because his ways are higher than my ways… But these answers are so… So dissatisfying. I can’t ignore my stomach hungry for something more substantial. Something I can digest. I can’t eat feathers and sand any longer. So while maybe a year from now I’ll come around to a different answer or come back to what I believed before, for right now I don’t think I can. I’d like to give a graceful pass.
Cue actual response:
“Yeah of course! I’d be happy to close us in prayer.”
And I look down at my hands. I can’t bring myself to close my eyes. I’m banking on the fact that the two other bodies in the room will. And then I hear my voice. It sounds like it always does. It feels like it always has. I don’t have to fight for words. They come out of me easily. It feels more natural and comfortable than telling a story to my friends.
I thank God for his presence. I thank God that he intervenes in our world. In our lives. I pray for rest and peace as our future unfolds. I pray for wisdom as we are faced with uncertainty. I thank God for his goodness and sovereign orchestration.
But the translation in the opposite side of my brain:
Oh God I want you to be present. I want you to have an actual presence in this room. Please let there be a God who cares about individual lives and cares enough to actually intervene and change things. Let there be a God who has a sovereign and perfect reign on this earth. Who gives our lives meaning according to a supernaturally ordained purpose. Please let there be a God who is the ultimate source of peace and wisdom that we can share in as we grow closer to you like we would a dear friend. Hear me now and answer. Dear God, let those things I have been taught my whole life be true.
Some part of my belief clings to these things. Maybe that’s why it isn’t hard for me to form nice doctrinally sound phrases. But I am afraid it is simply the residual produce of a seed deeply engrained in me since birth. That grew into a tree that I have been chopping at in recent months.
The other bodies in the room can only hear what I choose to make audible. Their ears are deaf to my waterfall-loud thoughts.
Am I lying? Do I need to proclaim to everyone who has labeled me as good Christian girl that I have officially stepped down from the role? Or maybe give my two weeks notice? Just so everyone has enough time to process and prepare before her presence is gone for good?
But I don’t want to give my resignation. I liked my job. I was good at my job.
What the hell happened? And what the hell do I do?
My hope is that contradiction does not necessarily equal deception. That it is ok to let both of these pieces sit inside of me even if it feels like two beta fish living in the same bowl. That I can assume and apply a pretty strong “both and” strategy and be both skeptic and faith-full. Both desperate and hopeful. Both dissatisfied and at peace. Searching and at rest.
Hacking at roots but confident the dead tree needs to go. And in its place something else will grow. Ground nourished by its rot and fertilized with its helicopter seeds. Truth I believed in somehow surviving and subsisting.