The things I've been doing for the past few weeks - VBS, a new full-time gig as a contractor's assistant, even the day-to-day life stuff - has been energizing me. But beneath it all has been building this complete exhaustion that I was almost naggingly aware of and yet hardly at all noticed. Honestly, it hasn't been a physical exhaustion. That, I'm fairly commonly aware of and can cure with some good sleep. This has been more of an emotional, drifting into spiritual, exhaustion that I couldn't quite put my finger on.
What I knew, in an unexpected moment of clarity Tuesday night, was that I needed a whole lot of God. Everything of Him He had to give to me. So I prayed for such.
That prayer wasn't enough. It was only the tip of the iceberg. I needed to pray. I couldn't focus, couldn't do anything else, couldn't even manage anything mindless like a game of minesweeper or an hour of TV. My heart was parched, and I needed to talk to my Father. And I tried to make it all formal, but I couldn't go there. (If you've been sneaking peeks of my new book, Prayse, know that those words are words my heart needs to hear and that's why I write them. We have got prayer so wrong. Me included.) I just laid there for awhile, talking like I was talking to a friend, rambling really, out loud because there really wasn't a reason to pretend I had to whisper or just "think" about God. I wanted to talk to Him. I wanted to talk this out. This building exhaustion that in the blink of an eye, I had become so suddenly and profoundly aware of.
I won't tell you what I prayed because that's not really the story. And I don't really know. I was just talking. Letting my heart pour out whatever measly words it had and not confident in the moment that it was anything. I remember having the vague thought as darkness fell that I mumbled to God (after this long, drawn-out conversation I'd been having with Him) that I promised to pray as soon as I figured out how to do so. It was just one of those nights.
For a few moments, while I was still thinking in my heart that I needed to pray, it occurred to me that I had. That I was. Somehow, I felt better - not because I felt holy for praying but because my heart felt better having just taken that time, even had I never consciously understood it as prayer. That little bit of release opened me to see a bigger picture of my exhaustion, in particular. What was eating my heart.
I was plugged up. There's been so much grief and agony and trauma and pain course through my life in the past couple of months, and in that moment of clarity, it all clamped down on me and I knew that's why I was exhausted. One thing right after another right after another, and my heart was open to this dialogue with God and so I wasn't overwhelmed when I saw it all. I just asked Him to help me trace it back.
What it was is this: it started with my dog. Kiira. With her seizure. Something in the helplessness of that situation, the senseless violence I watched hold my beautiful buddy hostage, something in that burrowed into me and plugged up my heart. The things that happened after that, though I had tried to work through them as they came, hit that plug and just built up inside me. The grief of Harold's death. Stresses in relationships. Another death close in the family. The little annoying this and thats of daily life. I was trying to push through them but they were getting trapped inside me, blocked by this little place of Kiira that I now knew needed more. Needed grace.
All I had to do was whisper her name, and I heard her big ol' feet start sliding against the floor as she stood up and came into my bedroom to see what I wanted. Tail wagging. A little hop in her step. She's my girl. She walked in, and I looked at her and realized that in almost two months, I have not looked at her once without pain. Without worry. Without fear. Without guilt. That she had suffered, that it might happen again (it has not, as yet, thank God), that I couldn't stop it. She walked over and nuzzled me, and I wrapped my hands around her head like she likes. And I made myself push everything aside and just tell her I love her. And that I forgive her. And that I hope she forgives me.
Those few little words started breaking up that plug. It started to release some of that exhaustion in me, not to mention an avalanche of I-thought-I-dealt-with-this-but-no's that were pent up behind it. I know it sounds odd, at the least. She's just a dog. What a tiny incident. It wasn't even her fault. But these are the kinds of things that happen every day and sometimes, they just weave their way into our hearts without our knowing it until we're just heavy. Burdened. And we've got to track it back to figure out where it all started.
We've got to be willing to find grace for every moment. Forgiveness when it seems ridiculous and unnecessary. Kiira didn't need me to forgive her; but my heart needed that.
So I kept talking to God for awhile, one hand scruffing up my big girl's jowl, the other holding off the attention-hogging puppy who gets so direly offended if she's not the center of your world, just talking to God. It wasn't that heavy-hearted, "I need to pray" anymore. Just a chat. Because I felt the release, felt myself unplugged, but wasn't ready to give Him up yet. I just wanted to keep talking. Just because.
There probably wasn't an Amen. Just a sigh. I am notoriously bad about forgetting amen...I'll sometimes add it five or ten minutes later when it suddenly occurs to me I didn't officially conclude my praying. Oh yeah. Amen. Shrug. But when my exhaustion broke, I was exhausted, so I just kind of trailed off and started thinking about the fireworks that were set to start in just a few minutes, the ones I wrote about yesterday. (And what I'm telling you today is likely why those fireworks struck me the way they did.) And fell asleep just a few minutes before they started, awakened by dogs to see the last. one. firework. And laugh and thank my Father.
He knows just what I need.
Is there a place in your heart that's plugging you up? Something that needs grace, maybe forgiveness? Is your heart burdened to pray but you don't know how? Start talking. He's listening, and He'll walk you through it.