Let’s start this post by all pretending that it hasn’t been six months since the last time that I have written. Please and thank you.
It seems almost impossible all of things that have packed themselves into the last six months of my life. Some of them I wish to explain in detail, and some of them I wish to never really speak about ever again.When I think about it all at once, I get very overwhelmed and then I read a poem out loud to myself to interrupt my brain and slow it down a little bit (or to ignore and/or avoid, but to each his own). It is so strange to me how large and how small life can be all at once. Anything can change in an instant. Location, relationships, even desires or beliefs.
Some changes matter so much, and some of them don’t really matter at all, and sometimes I think I mix up which one is which. But I think that the ability to discern between the two, or at least the attempt to do so, is part of the pursuit of being a good human, so I guess I will keep trying.
Amidst all of this transition and change and loneliness and confusion and patience and excitement and blah blah blah, I am trying to recognize the things that are still, the things that are causing the ripples in the river.. ya know? Unfortunately, I don’t think I know the answer to that question in an articulate way. So, what I have started to do is, instead of chipping into my ever-growing reading list, I am taking some time to re-read old books that have played a significant role in my life in attempts to remember some things that I have learned about myself/life/God along the way that maybe I am too overwhelmed to remember or simply need to relearn. (These books include East of Eden, Jayber Crow, A Severe Mercy and Flannery O’Conner’s Prayer Journal). This has felt so restorative to me and I have been overwhelmed with gratitude for the ability to reclaim and remember these truths simply by picking up a book that is already sitting on my bookshelf.
The book that has been the most impactful specifically to the last six months of my life has been one that I received as a gift from my dear friend Amy, and that is Flannery O’Conner’s prayer journal. I think I read this book all the way through ten times this semester, not counting the times that I picked it up simply to just read a prayer or two. Never have I ever related so deeply to a writer before. The things that she pleads for from the Lord are so courageously honest and are also things that I never knew or understood that we could ask for from God.
One prayer in particular has been something that I have been praying for awhile:
“God is feeding me and what I’m praying for is an appetite.”
When I first read this I thought, “Whoa, now that’s pretty gutsy, Flan.” But then, as I was honest with myself, I realized that these words, this pleading for an appetite was exactly what I needed to be asking for from the Lord. But, before reading this simple sentence, I was scared of the implications of the truth inherent in that statement. Praying for an appetite means that I’m not hungry, and if I’m not hungry than I am doing something wrong.
But reading these words provided for me an embrace of freedom that my fears and insecurities had been fighting off for much too long. I realized:
Even this. Even this I can ask for in His name.
I can ask for an appetite, I can ask for the strength to love and believe when I don’t want to, I can ask for an impatience for the second-coming because sometimes I am a little too patient for it.
As I attempt to make the daily decision to not drown in a (surprisingly strong) desire to not move forward (and somedays, not even get out of bed,) I will pray these simple prayers, I will worship in their midst, and I will embrace this time of restoration.
Well, I’ll try.