If I’m being totally, 100% honest, I have to say that I’ve found being a Christian to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. No one told me that when I was standing in the Baptismal at our church that the very thing we were celebrating my pursuit of would cause me tears of frustration and the feeling of wearing a lead vest, some days.
The general theme of faith based publications and blogs that I read is “child-like joy” in pursuing faith and the love of God. I have experienced that feeling. I have been brought to tears because I’ve asked God to change my mood and my heart and *Bam* he does something and suddenly I’m knocked on my butt in wonder. But lately that hasn’t been the case. Lately it’s been more along the lines of “Hello, God are you there? It’s me. Stephanie”.
The other night Steve and I were talking about the message last week at church about “counterfeit Christ followers”. The main thought being that to be a true disciple of God you must love as He first loved you. You must love with your life, love without judgement. On the subject of being “counterfeit” Steve mentioned “Fair weather followers” because it’s so much easier for most people to pray and reach out to God when things are tough. It got me thinking, that’s not the case for me. When things are great or something good happens I sing God’s praises, I engage in talking to him every chance I get. I rejoice in my relationship with him and in whatever it is that has caused such happiness. When it’s tough, when I’m run down and feeling desperate and alone, I fall silent. I hang my head in defeat. I keep my mouth closed and fight against the weight of another mirror image day fighting to keep me pancaked to the ground.
I have tried being the change I want to see in my life. I have tried pursuing career changes, volunteer opportunities, lifestyle changes, etc. A few of these pursuits have caused me to hit an obstacle that I can’t move alone. When I turn my focus to God and pray until I have no breath left, until I feel like I can pray these prayers without any engagement because of the amount of muscle memory in my lips, until I am crying out to have an answer and the tears just keep flowing freely down my cheeks … nothing happens. There is no change. There is no answer. There is nothing.
Growing up my sister and I were taught (maybe accidentally) that vulnerability can be crippling. Maybe that’s where this stems from. I allow myself to pray vulnerable prayers to God for only so long before I feel ignored and unimportant and stop. I’d feel this way when engaging in a one sided conversation with anyone. I give up trying to be heard. My desperate and emotion driven actions are not changing anything, so why keep doing it? My heart can’t take pouring it out for no change, day after day. Once I fall silent I feel like I’ve failed and I am powerless. Instead of finding comfort in knowing that God is in control, like a loving parent keeping His child safe, I start to feel like a pawn in a game, a nameless chess piece.
I write from my place on the game board this morning. Today, I’m angry that so many road blocks are in my way no matter which way I turn. I’m angry that I have to work so hard for something that oftentimes comes so easy to others. I’m angry that I’m ignored and that there is never any change. And I’m angry that I want these things will all of my heart, they are attainable goals and they would all glorify God and His kingdom but the prayers I’ve been reciting with all my heart, mind and spirit have fallen on deaf ears. I feel like all of my limbs are made of cement and just the thought of lifting my head off of my hand at my desk brings me to tears.
No one ever said that pursuing faith was easy and as I’m learning, it’s not always joyful. I would love to live my life haphazardly with reckless abandon, having no concern with what my actions bring on me and how they’re perceived. I can’t do that, knowing the outcome. This is a dark place. Knowing that your heart and soul depend on a change that you’re powerless to make is terrifying. Feeling completely helpless and unable to see the changes that you pray for with every ounce of your being makes them seem unattainable. I don’t know that there is a solution for this. Some say “pray harder”. I’m not sure I can. Some say “pray more often”. I don’t know that there is a “more often” . People say things like “He will provide. He has given you this for a purpose…” I’m losing faith that it is indeed for a purpose.
I am in desperate need of a gust of fresh air in my stagnant day to day. I crave change, no, I need a change. I need change like a symphony of woodwind instruments needing the air in their lover’s lungs to be heard. I ache for change. And yet, on my own, this change is unattainable.