Why is it such a battle to pray in familiar surroundings? Am I the only one who struggles with this? I could be almost literally anywhere in the whole entire world, and be feeling overwhelmingly drawn into that reverie of supernatural power in which all things flow from heaven to earth…but put me in my own house and you might as well forget about it. My mind is pulled thither and yon with a million different distractions, and I seem to spend every lick of time in an involuntary state of freaking out because there are important things that I need to be doing…
Not even actually doing those things per se…
Mostly just freaking out about how they need to be done, while nervously flitting from one place to the next.
I need to get situated. I need to schedule these times of union. They are incredibly more important than any other type of meeting or engagement. More so than a date with a pretty lady, or anything else in the universe.
I’m just being honest. I struggle with anxiety in many different forms. It’s one of the problems that I have. I refuse to succumb to it, though. I won’t even use terms like “my anxiety,” because it’s not mine. It belongs to the old me, and he’s dead. That’s not my stuff. It was his, and then he died, and I’m in the process of refurbishing this old house, cleaning all of the rooms, renovating the living spaces, fixing up the plumbing, and the insulation and whatnot.
We are all engaged in some version of this. If we forget that we are, then things get away from us. They can get out of control pretty quick! God is always there, though, to bring us back into the process, regardless of the sometimes unavoidable consequences of our previous failures.
Sometimes, grace makes a way for those consequences to be circumnavigated. If it doesn’t though, and if you have to go through the fire, understand that there is a reason for it. There are things that you need to learn. There are ways that you can be better. Sometimes, pain is the only schoolmaster we will listen to. It’s not that it’s the best or most efficient teacher…it’s just that we’re stubborn.
At least I am. Or, I have been. It’s my firm resolution to change that about myself, though.
I want to be the kind of person for whom the goodness of God is the only thing necessary to stimulate repentance.
And I don’t mean “repentance” in the sense of Oh, woe is me. I’m ‘bad’, and I need to be ‘good’. Whatever shall I do? No, I mean it in the sense of changing the way I think so that I am in agreement with a big, beautiful God who is okay with me for who I am, and who is so, so, so very interested in being a part of every piece of my life…a God who isn’t content to leave me alone in my confusion and pain, but who wants nothing (absolutely nothing!!) more than to stay close to me, and to live through it all with me, and to orchestrate awesomeness on my behalf…a God who loves to show off how much he loves me… I believe that the type of repentance that is actually being called for is a change in our thinking to agree with a reality in which God is good. Unspeakably more good than I am capable of understanding, to the point where a big part of my working towards personal betterment is spent deliberately engaging with the desire to understand it.
I don’t want to keep wandering off to the places where the bad things are, until one day the bad things finally actually really do get me, and I have to go through that pain on my way back. That’s where I’m at right now. Instead of trusting in the goodness of God years ago, in response to some very difficult circumstances, I chose instead to trust in my own flesh to comfort me. F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “And then I was drunk for many years, and then I died.” And that was me. Basically.
The me that now lives has been raised up with Christ. I’m all the way done with that version of myself, born of flesh and stricken by fear, who ran from God until he finally died. Even when those familiar things pop back into my mind, I choose to realize that they are just ghosts, and that it’s not me anymore.
Just thinking out loud. Or, actually, wait…I’m not. I’m writing.
Distractions are a giant part of real life.