Tag Archive: prayer


Brokenness

Somewhere in my blog’s post section, there’s a blank post titled “Brokenness.” I’ve been trying to write this post for weeks, and I keep getting stuck. I’ve fallen asleep at night trying to form it. I’m sure I’ve walked down halls muttering to myself as I’ve wrestled with it. It’s been something of a pain. I can’t quite forget it, but I haven’t quite produced it, either. It’s important to me, though, so I’m going to keep trying.

A few years ago, I was definitely working through some stuff. In some ways, it was a great time in my life. God helped me do some serious cleaning up of my attitudes, emotions, habits, questions, and so on. I had baggage. I’m pretty sure nobody escapes their childhood without some (even good homes come with some!), and growing with abuse, neglect, and all that certainly marked me up. I had trouble trusting. I hated being touched. I was alienated from my emotions. The list goes on. God and some good friends helped me dig into that and deal with the causes, and the results were great. However, the process was absolutely awful. I was alienated from emotions for good reason. There was so much pain, fear, and other painful and scary emotions I’d  been shoving to the side that I somehow had to actually process and release. I hurt a lot. Most of the time, I wasn’t sure the pain was ever going to go away. It was overwhelming, and it went on and on and on.

I frequently thought about brokenness during this, especially as I hurt. I prayed about it a lot, because part of what was happening to me was having to face and accept my own brokenness, my lack of perfection. I wasn’t perfect. I’d really wanted to be perfect, though, and I’d tried hard to do and say and be all the right things so that I could be perfect. It wasn’t my fault that I had failed. I really did my best, and I talked to God about it all often. My prayers went something like, “God, I hurt. I hurt so much, and I’m not sure it’s ever going to end. I’m tired. I’m dysfunctional. I can’t do things the way they should be done. I’m just… screwed up.” I would sigh, pause, maybe cry a little. It was… Hard overly simplifies how I felt. I was frustrated. I was disappointed in myself, in God, in my circumstances, and in other people. I was in pain. I was frightened, because I was having to admit inadequacy, and I’d been taught that was a very dangerous thing to do. I didn’t know if I could or should have hope. I wanted to be better. Oh, my gosh, I just wanted so badly to be better and done, to be fixed, better, something – for it all to be over. I ached for that.

In not quite words and more than a feeling, God talked to me about that. He asked me a horrible question. Right in the face of my aching desire to be better, He asked me, “What if you don’t get better? What if healing for you doesn’t look like the removal of your brokenness? What if it’s not just gone, and you spend the rest of your life limping?”

The rest of my life? What would you do? How would you feel?

I think this is a good place to stop and wait and ponder, so I’ll see you later.

Back to My Roots

I woke up this morning grumpy. My back hurt, I didn’t want to go to work, and I could hear the rain pouring and the wind howling outside. Grumpy doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable, does it? I’ve noticed the last couple of days that I’ve had to watch my attitude. Grumpy is coming easily. A little bit of grumpy is no big deal, but chronically grumpy sours into bitterness, and that’s not how I want to live out my life.

What can make it hard is that I have some legitimate complaints. I’ve been in pain, often a considerable amount of it, almost constantly for about three months. Pain, I’m finding, is a wearing and exhausting thing with which to live. Besides the fact that it hurts, it grinds on me. It makes me feel weaker. I’m always devoting a fair amount of energy to living with it. I also feel guilty about it. It’s been three months, and I’ve been cooperative with my plan of care. Shouldn’t I all better by now? What am I doing wrong? I’m not, by the way. Apparently, some of the damage done can take six months to heal, but knowing that doesn’t necessarily make me feel great when I’m feeling down about it. I still hurt. I still feel weak and guilty. I’m still angry over the unfairness. I’m still being disappointed in my desire to be better, and that makes it easy, easy to feel all grumpy, and then to be snarky and sour, and then… You see how this goes, right? Somehow, I need to allow myself room to be in pain and to have reason for complaint without allowing it to eat me alive.

This isn’t the first time in my life that I’ve had something hard and unfair. I learned some things from those prior experiences that I’m finding helpful now. One is that I do need to watch my attitude. When I was a kid, I didn’t know that. I didn’t watch it very well which meant that I had some difficult messes to clean up when I started dealing with the reality that I’d suffered childhood abuse. Another is that I need to leave myself room for the legitimate pain and emotional turmoil I’m experiencing. I can’t just tell myself to shutup and ride without doing more damage. Yet another is the realization that I can’t do this on my own. I need God’s help and provision and ear.

In the last couple of days, I’ve noticed that I’ve almost without conscious thought turned myself toward God. If I’m grumpy, I grouch at Him and complain about how unfair it is. If I hurt, I cry out and tell Him that I can’t do this. This morning, I noticed another old lesson popped up. I was lying in bed, grouchy about being awake, and instead of staying there, I started thanking God for stuff. The truth is that I have not only reasons for complaint, but I also have reasons for gratitude. Work may be getting on my nerves sometimes, but I do have a job, one with decent pay and benefits and an employer that I usually appreciate and think appreciates me. My back might hurt, but most everything else is working great, and my back is better. I have a great mom. I like my siblings most of the time. I have some really good, sweet friends. Some time in the near future, there will be silly lambs bouncing all over the place and making me laugh with their antics. I live in an abundantly beautiful place. There are lots of good things in my life for which I am genuinely grateful.

One thing I would like to point out my attitude of gratitude is not a case of, “Cheer up! It could always be worse.” I’m not happy about having a job because I could be one of the poor folk who hasn’t been able to find one, or because I’m not stuck doing something I truly hate. I’m not happy about my back pain because at least that’s the only body part currently misbehaving. I think cheering up because it could be worse is the same thing as telling myself to shutup and ride. It’s not gratitude. It’s another method to deny the legitimacy of my very real pain and genuine struggle. It takes what I feel and tells me that I shouldn’t be feeling it. I’ve done that to myself before, and I found that while denying what I feel can be good in the short term, making it a long term habit means I have a lot of unresolved issues that eventually refuse to be hidden or denied.

Tell you one more thing for which I’m grateful. It would be roots. It would be the experience I’ve already acquired and the habits I’ve already learned that make turning toward God something that I don’t always have to struggle to remember. I’ve got that established, rooted into my life. That doesn’t mean I always remember right away to turn to God to pray and wait and rest and praise and all that, but it’s certainly quicker and easier and more likely to happen in a timely manner. For that, I’m grateful.

The Absolute Nuisance of Love

Picture, if you will, the great finger of God, stabbing His points for emphasis. “The greatest commandment,” with a dramatic sigh for the stupidity of one young human, “is to love Me with all that you are. You say you don’t know what that means or what love is.” An impatient statement follows, “Silly girl, it’s all spelled out in I Corinthians 13. To love me, you” an emphatic stab of His finger at me “must be patient. You” another stab “must be kind. You may not” point, point, point “envy or boast, and there will be no dishonor, selfishness, or flammable tempers on your part. I most certainly do not want to hear about any wrongs that may have been done to you, either. You can’t keep those records. You better be rejoicing with the truth, protecting, trusting, hoping, and persevering. Let me know when you get it all down.”

This bit. It rankled. I did not like it, not one bit, no sirree! I don’t like being spoken to like this, dismissively being told what I needed to do to make myself at least somewhat acceptable, but this is God we are discussing. However vast my resentment, some part of me recognized that if anybody had the right to talk to me like that, it would be Him, so I tried swallowing my pride and tried to do all of this stuff. I tried to be kind and patient, especially with my (annoying, obnoxious, pestiferous) younger siblings. I failed more than I succeeded, but I did keep trying, and I even humbled myself enough to ask or sometimes demand that God help me with this impossible task.

I did not approach this labor wholeheartedly. All the while, that resentment of God’s highhandedness kept rumbling. I was annoyed by it all. “I must be patient. I must be kind. I must not be boastful,” I would snarkily repeat to myself, under my breath. “What the heck does all the crap mean, anyways, God? I don’t know. I can’t figure it out.” Please, my friends, do not underestimate the value of snarky prayers or confessions. God hears even them. All I could do with love was try, and the trying made me angry and insecure, because it exposed how completely I failed. I could not even talk to God about love consistently with any love (or civility) on my part. I was not patient, nor was I kind, nor did I treat God with honor. Once in a while, some of that would appear, but it was not a consistent experience for me. I just kept trying and kept looking for opportunities to keep trying. I’m stubborn, and I do not give up easily. Still, I treated love like a huge pain in my butt. I felt it was a nuisance. I did not believe that love was a good thing. I only cared about it because I believed it was what God demanded of me, and I was trying to make Him happy.

God hears and answers even snarky prayers, people. One day, I was in the kitchen, making something for lunch. Nobody else was around, something that was a rare event with my many younger siblings (I had five at that point), and while I was cooking, I was thinking. Cooking involves lots of fairly mindless tasks, and performing fairly mindless tasks has been a soothing thing for me for a long time. I accomplish something, my hands are busy and thus not distracting me, and my mind settles down for a good think. So I was thinking, and because I had love on the brain (love had gotten under my skin. I was so irritated by it!), I was thinking about it and God’s ridiculous demands. My mind was traveling its (by now) well worn path of resentment and shame.

But suddenly, I had this moment of revelation. It was so cool. Out of nowhere inside me, I realized that I was reading I Corinthians 13 all wrong, and that I was more right than I knew in complaining that I didn’t understand love. I thought – believed, really – that I Corinthians 13 was there to point how messed up I was. It is not. It can serve that function of conviction, yes, and it did for me, but that is not its most crucial message.

You see, my friends, what I realized is that God is love. Not only that, but at just the right time, while we were still powerless, while we were still sinners and making terrible messes, God demonstrated his love for us through the death of His Son, of Himself, of Christ. God was NOT saying, “Bekah, you have to live out I Corinthians 13 to get me to care about you.” I had misunderstood completely. He was saying, “I Corinthians 13 is there to explain how I treat you, because I AM love, and I’ve already commended that love to you. I already love you. I am patient. I am kind. I do not boast, and I am not selfish.”

My jaw dropped. It was not a demand, an imposition over which I had every right to be angry, a great nuisance to make me sweat and toil and suffer. It was an explanation, an offer, something which I’d already been given. I had been so wrong, and yet He was so gracious. My jaw just dropped in awe at the amazing awesomeness that is the love of God.