“Be Still and Know Me.” “But That Sounds Scary!” : Two Conversations with God

I’ve been learning a lot about myself in 12 Steps.  I learned that I hugely fear people that threaten my sense of security, and I try to avoid this potential threat by withdrawing from people who might hurt me or else being so competent that no one will ever want to hurt me.  Then I realized that I was playing out this exact pattern with God, and that my distance from him these last few months has largely been because I’m very scared he’s out to hurt me.

The other night, I decided to bite the bullet and open myself up to talking with God in a real way for the first time in a long time.  I had this imaginary conversation (some might call it prayer, but I’m a doubting doubter who doubts, so there’s all my cards on the table):

Me:  I TRIED to get close to you, God.  I was going to read through the whole Bible, but Leviticus, God?  It sucks!  You’re awful to your own people!!  What are you going to do to me?  If I make one mistake, are you going to send my family members after me with machetes?  You want too much!  You just want and want and want, and it’s never enough!

God:  …

Me:  Okay, fine.  You tell me.  What DO you want?

God:  Be with me.

Me:  That sounds like a fake thing that I just want you to say.

God:  Be still and know that I am God.

Me:  Just be…and know you?  For what purpose?

God:  This is a relationship, Tricia.

Me:  So knowing and being known is the whole point?  So…who are you?

The next step is about getting to the root of my character flaw (believing that I can prevent myself from harm by either withdrawing or being competent).  I pretty quickly remembered a conversation from childhood in which a person who didn’t usually show me attention DID show me attention because of something smart that I said.  I’ve been chasing people’s attention through being smart ever sense.

Again, this led back to God.

Me:  I just want everyone to love me!  And the only way I know how to do that is to be so smart and useful that they have to.  I don’t think I can have their attention any other way.

God:  …

Me:  …You’re right.  I don’t believe that I can have your attention unless I perform well for you.

God:  Why?

Me:  Because it’s usually true with people!

God:  What if it’s not true with me?

Me:  That feels way too scary to risk, because if I’m right about this and I try another way, then you’re going to hate me and punish me.

God:  Who am I to you?

Me:  Fickle.  Impossible to please.

God:  Is that true?

Me:  I honestly don’t know.

And that’s where I’m at!  I still don’t trust God, but we’re finally talking about it, so that’s major progress.  Ugh, listen to that.  “Progress”?  What an action-oriented word to describe a relationship.  I want everything to be progress and growth and productivity.  What I’m trying to learn is that maybe I can have a loving relationship with God even without all of those things.

It’s a hard habit to kick.

 

Sunday Summary #3: What’s on the Internet

Three of my favorite topics represented today:  Christianity, feminism, and Harry Potter.  A good week for the Internet.

1|  Guillermo del Toro Interview with The Mary Sue

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Guillermo del Toro did an interview with The Mary Sue about Crimson Peak and his habit of making movies with competent women taking up most of the screen time.  I was initially interested in the movie because of Tom Hiddleston, but now I have an even bigger reason to get over my fear and watch the gothic horror/romance film!

2|  How I Pray by Nicole Cliffe

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The Toast is a new website I discovered because of my friend Elizabeth.  They cover a lot of topics, but this article by Nicole Cliffe about becoming a Christian and falling in love with prayer.  This is exactly the kind of Christian blogging I want to emulate, because she writes with passion and clarity, but never once alienates her potentially non-Christian audience.

Prayer has been one of the pleasant surprises of becoming a person of faith. It’s something I truly enjoy, and has been weirdly transformational to my life, I guess? I wish neither to oversell nor undersell it to you as something to do (I’m not a particularly talented or motivated evangelist, you may have noticed.)

When I first became a Christian (July 7th, 2015, The Jesusversary), Mallory’s dad told me that he thinks God gives a spiritual starter pack to new converts, like how sometimes you can get a way better deal on your phone plan if you’re a new customer instead of an existing one. That there will be long seasons in your life where you feel like God is ghosting you, and you’re just plaintively texting into The Void. That you just won’t feel like there’s anyone on the other end of the line. And those times will come and go, in the average life of a believer, but for this first six months to a year, many people get to feel great nearness in their prayer life, and it’s a gift.

3|  29 Hilarious Tweets About ‘Harry Potter’ 

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These kinds of lists are exactly what I want from BuzzFeed, 24/7.

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Rachel Held Evans Addresses Abuse and the Church

I spent the morning of my 27th birthday listening to Rachel Held Evans lead two conference sessions–the first on Gender Equality and the Church, the second on Abuse and the Church.  Three hours later, as we walked out the door, my mom said, “We should do something fun for your birthday!”

Looking at her in confusion, I said, “That was fun.  I can’t think of any other way I would rather spend my birthday.”  Continue reading

A Prayer for Change

I’ve grown to really like prayers written by other people.  I have written before about my love for St. Francis’s famous prayer (made into song by Sarah McLachlan).  The thing is, when I pray my own prayers, I usually do one of two things:  1) ramble, or 2) repeat “Help me!” or “Thank you!”  Anne Lamott’s book about prayer, Help, Thanks, Wow helped me see that this is not actually a bad thing…still, it’s nice praying thoughts that have been lovingly and carefully shaped by someone else.

I have a pocket edition of the Book of Common Prayer, and in it lies a prayer that consistently gives me peace and courage.  It’s titled “Major Life Transition,” so obviously it is especially relevant right now.  May it encourage you as it has encouraged me.  Continue reading

The Prayer of St. Francis

I’m a bit obsessed with St. Francis of Assisi, and it all started with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  That’s normal, right?

In the season six finale (which is SO GREAT and I will definitely write about at some point), Sarah McLachlan sings, “The Prayer of St. Francis.”  I thought it was beautiful, and I eventually realized it originated, not with a show about vampire slayers, but with a 13th century monk.  Continue reading