I used to spend regular time in prayer. At least I tried to. I used to read my Bible more often, talk about God more often, and try to do all the things I “needed” to do to make myself seem like the stereotypical “good Christian.” I even got a Philosophy and Religion degree and applied to seminary so I could keep up the good work.
But now, I’m not praying at all. Not when I’m happy, or sad, or at the end of my rope. I don’t pray the offices, for others when I say I will, at mealtimes, barely even at church.
I’m just not praying.
Because I feel directionless but fear direction. I feel asleep but don’t want to be woken up just yet. I feel numb but don’t want to feel pain.
I don’t know what I’ll hear, whether I’ll encounter a God of love and mercy or a God who is as hard on me as I am. I don’t know if I’ll hear anything but silence. I don’t know if I can trust the God on the other end, because I’m worried this God will look like one that isn’t with or for me.
Prayer might bring me right up close and personal with the One who could tell me to go places I don’t want to go, tear down the walls I’ve worked so hard to build up, make time for the people that I don’t want to see, and maybe even get out of my own head every once in a while.
I’m scared of transformation. I’m comfortable where I am yet want so desperately to be shaken up.
I don’t even know what I believe about God anymore, and there’s this big part of me that feels like I have to have so many things figured out before I can be that close to God again.
I don’t want to be convicted, corrected, or called out. I don’t want to let someone that big and powerful know my deepest darkest secrets and fears and dreams.
I want so desperately to be in communion with my Creator, but the distance I’ve put between us seems a whole lot safer, not to mention more comfortable to me. But this distance comes at a price.
Because while I’ve been keeping God at a distance, I’ve been keeping my community at a distance. I’m afraid to let God see the real me, and I wonder if it’s because I’m afraid to let other people see the real me. Because I’m realizing more and more that the god I worship the most is how people see me, and I don’t want this god to see everything that makes me who I am, the good or the bad.
Intimacy with others can really scare me. How can I expect intimacy with God to be any less revealing or any less terrifying?
In prayer, whatever form it takes, through singing or dancing or speaking or meditating or being with people, vulnerability is a must. Being my whole self is a must. This involves tearing down walls that I’ve comfortably hidden behind for so long. This involves being honest with myself so I can be honest with others. This involves me getting out of my head long enough to realize that I am not the be all and end all of this world.
All of these seem too much for me to do.
So while I really want to pray, to read my Bible and hear its beautiful stories, to be a seminary student, to be authentically me in a community that adores me, I’m still finding what once seemed so effortless now almost impossible. I don’t completely know what I do and don’t believe about the Bible or God or Christianity. I’m still on this journey of putting one foot in front of the other and hoping that everything works out in the end.
I know I need to tear some walls down, let people in, let the world know me, let God know me and love me. But I don’t know how to convince myself that I have strength, courage, grace, and love enough to do something this big.
If anyone else is on this journey, whether you’re a faithful prayer warrior or are consumed by overwhelming doubts, please share your thoughts. Your story matters, and it should be heard. Thank you.