Thursday, July 16, 2020

Change Me, Lord

I've been thinking a lot about the way we pray. I think sometimes, it's easy for us to get wrapped up in our own hearts in prayer, and this keeps us from getting wrapped up in His.

The other night, I went to bed hurt. As life tends to go, I'd had a difficult exchange with someone I love - and who loves me - and I was simply hurt to the core of my being. I was hurt by the actions of the other, hurt by the words of the other, hurt by the words of a third party who was present, and I was hurt by the actions I myself had taken in that moment, hurt that I had to do it and hurt that I knew it hurt someone else for me to do it. There was just a lot of hurt. (And I know I wasn't the only one feeling it.)

The thing about hurt is that it doesn't like to hang around very long. It always wants to become something else. It wants to become anger, casting all the wrong on the other party and condemning them for it. It wants to become indignation, elevating the self to some kind of privilege that shouldn't have to put up with such things. It wants to become depression, convincing you that you're just a piece of garbage and not worth anything. It can even convince you life is not worth living if you're careful. At least, your life is not worth living. That's just the thing about hurt - it tries to be anything else but raw pain.

When hurt starts to transform in your heart into something else, it changes the way that you pray about it. I had thoughts that whole evening about what I wanted God to do in response to my hurt, which was trying so desperately not to be hurt any more. At first, I just prayed that I was ready to go Home. Ready to give up this life. I prayed that He would take me quietly, gently, and I wept tears of grief for those I love that I would have left behind. I prayed as my heart let go of the things that give me life here, and it was hard. And you know what the worst part of it was? It didn't help the hurt. All the drama, all the emotion, all the despair did not change the hurt that I was feeling. The prayer that was wrapped in my own heart failed to do anything at all for me in that moment.

So then, I became indignant. What I wanted was for God to somehow make the others in this situation pay the price for what they had done and said about me, for the way they had acted and reacted in that situation. I wanted them to feel the full weight of sorrow and be miserable about it. I prayed out of my heart that God would smite theirs, but that felt wrong, too. That's not the kind of person I am, and it's not the kind of person I was willing to let this situation turn me into. And you know what? It still didn't help the hurt anyway. Being indignant didn't change the way that I felt. This prayer, too, wrapped in my own heart failed to do anything at all for me in that moment.

For a few breaths, I settled into anger. A righteous anger, or so I convinced myself. I confessed t the Lord that I was angry, and then I confessed to the Lord that I was also right. I started praying for God to change the hearts of the others involved in this situation, to make them understand their wrongness and the depth of the pain they had inflicted on me. I asked them to soften their spirits and convict them of their transgression, even though I knew how hard it would be for me to trust an apology or even a glossing over of things. This prayer, too, did nothing to help my hurt. Wrapped in my own heart, it just didn't do anything.

But as I realized the hurt just would not go away, that it was burrowing deeper and deeper into my soul, I changed my prayer one more time. This time, I prayed that God would soothe my heart.

And you know what?

He did.

In a breath, that heavy feeling lifted off my chest. My tears became gentler tears of exhaustion and comfort, rather than pain and hurt. I fell asleep in the midst of that prayer, crying out for God to come and change my heart, convict me where I needed it, soothe my hurt. And He did. And it turns out, that was everything I needed that night. Not my heart, but His.

May that moment forever change the way that I pray. 

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