I never liked “time-outs.” I never ever liked to take afternoon naps as a kid, and I never ever liked “quiet times.” I was always on the move, causing both a ruckus and a headache for my parents and teachers one day at a time! I was so terrible at sitting still and I talked so fast that the words coming out of my mouth couldn’t actually keep up with the thoughts flying through my head. My parents thought I had ADD, while my grandma on the other hand, believed that my “motor-mouth” problem was due to my heightened intelligence and elevated IQ (way to go, Grandma). Some days, mom would look me straight in the eyes with a serious face, and she’d put her hands on either side of my head and she’d say, “Sam, FOOOOCUUUS.” And after laughing and doing a few “cool down laps” around the house, I would finally focus.
Honestly, not much has changed since then. (Except for the naps thing, I actually enjoy taking naps now.) But this week, I got to housesit for my aunt and uncle, and I got to spend some awesome quality time with my cousin (when she wasn’t spending the whole day in school). That meant tons of time alone… in an empty house… with not much to do… and an overactive brain that doesn’t know when to shut itself off. OH, THE HORROR. Little did I know, God had a purpose and a plan for me in this “quiet time” madness.
If I can manage to pray for more than 5 minutes in one sitting, it’s a big deal… because it never happens. Usually my prayer life consists of short random prayer thoughts throughout the day, like, “Oh Lord, where did I put my keys? I know that You know where they are… Father, give me patience to drive in this flippin’ Miami traffic, the worship music playing in my car isn’t helping anymore, and I am about to bust out of here and walk home…. God, I pray for the kid’s in my moms first grade class, please calm them down and keep them FOCUSED because she might murder one of them, and I don’t want my mom to go to jail because she’s a great teacher… Father, thank you for hot showers and comfy beds and yummy food. Love you Lord, In Jesus name, Amen.”
Yeah. The second I try to go deep with God, I blank out. I forget the names of all of my friends and family members who may or may not need prayer, I forget all of the bible verses that I had memorized, and I forget all of the things that I needed to talk to God about in the first place. The struggle is real. To help me combat this struggle of distraction and forgetfulness, I began journaling my prayers. That helped a ton because I love to write and it keeps me focused. It also allows me to go back and cross off prayers that God has answered which is super encouraging! I also stopped trying to come up with fancy words while I pray, which really made a difference in my prayer life because my prayers ended up making more sense and they began to sound like a real life conversation between two people (with real people words). Lastly, I told fear and shame to go “take a hike” because they were hindering me from being able to get real with God. Fear and faith can’t both thrive in the same place. So I said, Sayonara and Adios to those lies from Satan. This week, I got real with God. (So real, that it got to the point where I cried multiple times on my aunt’s carpet and spent some quality time in fellowship with their pet peacock, Kevin who didn’t judge me for my puffy red eyes or for my runny nose. Thanks, Kevin. Mad respect.)
Also, God showed me a few cool things that I really want to share with you guys because maybe I’m not alone – and maybe you struggle with this stuff too?
The power of prayer has nothing to do with me or my fancy words. God is the powerful one in this relationship. He makes things happen and He sets things in motion. He brings freedom, understanding, clarity, and wisdom. He comforts and protects and provides. All He wants is for me to trust Him enough to muster up the courage to actually say something to Him about what I need (and what I am thankful for). My help comes from Him, not from how eloquent my prayers sound. Once I realized that my prayers weren’t about me, I finally had stuff to pray about. I could praise Him, thank Him, and ask Him for things. It freed me up to enjoy God without worrying about being judged for how I sounded.
Jesus promised that troubles and tribulations would come, but He also promised to help us overcome them all. I learned that having a nervous breakdown every now and then (especially while talking to God) is okay. There’s no law that says Christians aren’t allowed to be upset or angry from time to time (just don’t let that lead to sin). In fact, the Bible says that God keeps track of our sorrows and tears, and that He records those moments in His book (Psalm 56:8). This just means that God is very aware of our meltdowns, and He doesn’t condemn us for them, He sympathizes with us instead. Believe it or not, God gets it. He is big enough to handle my mood swings, He is loving enough to walk me through the rough patches of my life, and He is gracious enough to not take my “moments of emotional weakness” personally or hold it against me. I love God for that. When I learned how to cry in front of Him, I also learned how to let Him love me in those moments. When I get free, He freely comforts me and He strengthens me by reminding me of how strong He is on my behalf. Then my meltdown stops because I remember who my Father is. If God (the Mighty Warrior and Creator of the Universe) is on my side, then what the heck do I need to worry about?
When I am weak, He is strong. No, but for real. There have been so many times when I’ve tried to hide my weaknesses from God because I thought that He’d be disappointed in me. I was ashamed of my sinfulness, and I didn’t think that the Holy of Holies would want to even look at me – let alone converse with me – but, I was so wrong. The Lord showed me that His light shines through my cracks. In the areas of my life where I am weak, God is strong for me. He’s supposed to get the glory in those moments, but if I try to hide my cracks and my flaws, that makes me a hypocrite and it makes God a liar. He chose me as His own before I was even born – already knowing who I would become and what I would do. He took into account my wrong turns and my mess ups before they even happened, and He said, “I still want you despite all of that. I’ll clean you up and make you righteous in time, but I want you as you are now. I love you and you are so precious to Me.” That kind of love is hard to wrap my mind around, but it also compels me to go out and tell the world about it. Unconditional love is a gift that no human being should ever have to miss out on.
So, this week was full of me, myself, and My King. At first I was so intimidated by the copious amounts of quite time that I had to endure, but God slowly began to change my heart and my mind about it. Now, I’m really starting to appreciate the quiet moments in my day. Way back when (like two weeks ago, ha), I couldn’t pray for more than 5 minutes at a time, but now I sometimes skip lunch because I get so consumed with talking to God about anything and everything in my “jam-packed” brain that I actually forget to eat. That’s unheard of. I love food, almost as much as I love my family (but not quite). The coolest part is that as I pray and read God’s word, He answers. Whether it’s through a verse, an overwhelming peace in my spirit, or through a phone call or text from a friend that comes at just the right time (shout out to Jocelyn for your perfectly timed messages). He always answers.
Will I still shoot up random short prayers to God throughout the day? Heck yeah. All the time. Because I need Him all the time, and because He’s always with me. When you love someone and want to get to know them better, you spend more time with them… and my relationship with my Heavenly Dad should be no different. It’s a learning process and there are hard days when I don’t want to open my journal or my mouth, but the more I learn about how awesome my God is and about how much He cares for me… the more it makes me want to talk to Him.
I think the most challenging part of this love walk/prayer journey is going to be letting God speak while I just sit and listen. (Still working on that with my momma too.) Luckily for me, love is patient…