Thursday, December 08, 2005

Can you hear me?

The past few weeks I have been lamenting the fact that I don't seem to feel connected to God. I feel lonely, vulnerable and cut off. I know that he is there. I do. I also keep reminding myself that feelings are not a reliable indicator of how things are truly going in your spiritual life.. For example, I have been struggling lately with feeling that when I pray I am just saying words to blank walls and low ceilings. They are just words uttered but not heard by anyone other than me. Because of that I find it difficult to be passionate about them. They seem like words just rolling off the tongue in a world so saturated with noise that they can't be heard. I feel a barrier between me and my God who is the intended receiver. Of course God wants me to pray. He commands me to pray. Even if I don't feel like praying, and lately I haven't really felt like it because I perceive a huge gulf between me and God, he still is waiting and listening. Tuesday as I was driving I forced myself to pray. Which made me feel a bit guilty - forcing myself to communicate with a God I love? I should be thrilled that I have that opportunity. Still, I was forcing words and thoughts, praise, and petitions. And I felt awful. Fake. I don't know any other way to describe it except to say that I felt the words were not even heard beyond the interior of my car. And I was frustrated and sad. I felt the weight of my ineptitude in such a small thing. I couldn't even pray and be heard!
My friend has been dealing with a situation lately. Not of huge proportions, but something that could be costly and this is just not a good time of year for costly. She is a landlord, and something just had to be fixed in her building. For many reasons this was a bad week to get people in to fix this problem. So, on Tuesday, in my attempts to be a caring and good friend as well as to reconnect the communication lines between me and God, I stumbled through a plea to work out this situation. I crossed every t and dotted every i. In the back of my mind were all the reasons he could say no to this request - and I tried to argue with each one of them. Finally, in exhaustion, I came to the place where I just gave in and said - Do what you will, and give her the grace and strength to deal with it. Instead of just praying, and letting him work, I was so cognizant of my recent disengagement and pessimism that I kept giving God "outs" just in case nothing resulted from my prayers. That way if he did nothing I had not failed to help my friend.... How silly. But so me right now. I muddled through it all, and waffled around and finally gave up. I prayed, but did the message get passed the windshield? Not if my feelings about the situation were any indicator.
Yesterday (Wednesday) my friend called me and told me it was the strangest thing, the situation seems to have taken care of itself. Things seem to be working all right again. Huh? As of when? She told me. That was about 15 minutes after I had prayed. I was dumbfounded. Not that God was able to fix the situation - of course he is, but that he heard me even when I felt he didn't. To me it was a strong message saying "Why do you doubt me? Why do you rely on feelings? Why do you think I wouldn't listen to you? I always listen. I always care. Even if you're not feeling me, I am always right there by your side." It shook me to the core. I was taking a human reaction to a situation and assigning it to how God had to be feeling about me. I had wanted nothing to do with God for a few days - and had that been a human friend of course they would have thrown up their hands and walked away. But not God. He's still there waiting. Patiently, lovingly, rejoicing when I choose to let him participate in my life.
And it also reminded me that I can't rely on feelings when it comes to God. I felt alone. I wasn't. I felt unable to communicate. I wasn't. I felt the words I said hadn't made it out of the car. They had. I felt lonely, and worthless and inept. I wasn't. No matter how tangibly I felt that all my words fell on deaf ears - they hadn't! I need to keep talking to God. He is listening. He is hearing. He is right there with me. No matter how disconnected I feel - it is my disconnect, not Gods.
Truthfully, I don't feel much more connected today than yesterday. But I know he is connected to me and working in my life despite my doubts and in spite of my inability to "feel" his closeness. He has not moved.


Kelly said...

He IS there, listening - even at our most inarticulate. I hope you have a great day, Karen. xo

anne said...

Karen, I'm so glad that God did something big to encourage you when you felt a blankness about him! Sometimes I have to look for him in other people to feel connected. A warm smile, a burst of laughter, a feeling of love swelling up in the midst of a good conversation - then I'll remind myself, "Ah! There he is!" Dwelling inside us and connecting us all. Feeling him connecting me to you as I write this...

kingsjoy said...

I so relate to the feelings of being disconnected. Just wanted you to know you're not alone in this struggle. In my experience, this season passes. I'm in one of the most challenging seasons of my life right now...but I'm hopeful I am close to the other side. Prayer going up for you. --D

Christine said...

Praying, Karen~

gaston said...

Hi Karen.

You know. The only verses I've been reading from the Bible are Jesus' teachings on prayer. And the more I read it, the more I'm sure we do most of our prayers the wrong way.

It's bad that we feel we're praying to our walls. :) It happens to me all the time. But I think it's because we're praying the "wrong" way.

Jesus said we should turn to our inside and pray in silence. Amost saying no words.

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.

It means just closing ourselves to the external world... to the noise and stuff around us for a while... "shut the door." And who's in secret? YOUR FATHER.

Not in feelings. Not in noise. Not in joy. Not in fuzzy warmth. (Which are all good btw). Jesus says that your Father God IS IN SILENCE.


You are not cut off! Your DAD is always in there... in your room... in silence.

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.

What??? No words??? What do you mean Jesus? What do you mean God doesn't hear me for my many words???

Yes. Because the type of prayer that Jesus is describing is just BEING THERE WITH GOD for a little while. And Jesus is saying right there that we won't feel him! He's in silence.

Karen. You are not cut off. God is there inside of you. Your are not cut off from him. He has this thing for silence ;)

He's with you... He is the shadow at your right hand.

I would love for you to pray in a new way. I would love if you could just sit in your couch and "be there" with God for a little while and not say anything. God is embracing you right now and will be embracing you then.

Remember, you are NOT CUT OFF. Jesus says he is INSIDE YOUR ROOM... IN SILENCE.

God bless you. Hope you will feel better soon.

gaston said...

Yes. I see what you mean. Just real disconnection. Thanks for sharing and your comments on my blog.

I think that what you are going through has been experienced by some of the most important mystics of all times. I think it's what St. John of the Cross called "The Dark Night of the Soul."

That totally insipid state of nothingness. Other mystics call it "the desert of the faith." Oh how discouraged the soul feels during these times.

But nevertheless God is with you like He was with Jesus in the desert.

And don't forget that the ones who should worry are we who feel happy and filled with joy.

Blessed are:
-The poor in spirit
-Those who hunger and thirst for righteusness
-Those who cry

So we might say you're BLESSED in the eyes of God right now?