For my Spiritual Traditions and Practices class we have to spend about 45 minutes each day with God. Since I was a child I have just had conversations with God. I sit in my room and talk aloud to God. Sometimes he talks back. Sometimes he gives me pictures or songs or words that speak directly to my soul. I have had a few of those experiences this week and so I thought I would share with you some of those experiences.
6/22/11 30 minutes
I lay down to work on my 45 minutes and I was anxious about fulfilling that time. I remember someone from class saying how they looked forward to that time with God and I was just anxious about making it the whole 45 minutes (which as you can see I did not make it). I’m a little ADHD (ADD back in the day but now there is no such thing as ADD) and so the idea of being still for 45 minutes is just insane; which is crazy because I have done it before in prayer groups and spiritual discernment groups. But I was still worried that I wouldn’t be able to be quiet that long with God. I’m really good at 5-10 minute short bursts with God but 45 minutes is just crazy, or at least it seems crazy. In other prayer groups I was focusing on other people during that time so I found it easier to sit with God for that long.
God does speak to me in pictures and words so it wasn’t the idea that I might not get anything that was troubling me. It was instead the idea that I might get too much. I might learn too much about myself, my past, and my pain that I just really don’t want to deal with. Right now I am in between therapists and I am really longing for that connection/time with a therapist again.
All that to say that I was anxious about the time constraints and I was laying down hoping that I wouldn’t watch the clock and that I wouldn’t be freaked out if I couldn’t make it the entire time.
I fell asleep. I was laying there freaking out about which classes to take when (because after this quarter I only have 3 left) and how to go about taking them and insurance and money and everything. I fell asleep and had a dream. In that dream I was holding all the stuff I was freaking out about and God just said, “Leave it there and come with me.” In class on Tuesday professor Jensen led us through Lectio Divina and in that time I saw God telling me to come. This past weekend I also heard God telling me to put down my worries and just sit with him. In the dream I was able to do that and after the dream I was able to just release my worries for just a little while and rest in God.
6/24/11 23 minutes
My internet was down this morning so I couldn’t do what we were asked to do. So I looked on my shelves of books and tried to find a devotional but I don’t really have those. So I picked up 101 Hymn Stories: The Inspiring True Stories Behind 101 Favorite Hymns by Kenneth W. Osbeck. I’m not really a hymn person either but I did find a hymn that I knew (Thank you David Crowder Band). When I picked up the book I only intended to sing the hymn and then go take a shower. I wasn’t really thinking about making it work for my morning prayer but it surprised me.
The name of the hymn that I chose was “All Creatures of Our God and King” by St Francis Assisi and can be found on page 18 with its author description and meaning on pages 19-21. So I sang the hymn one time through paying particular attention to the “right” notes and rhythm and I was frustrated when I was flat and when the rhythm wasn’t just right. Then I read through the description and meaning. I was surprised to hear how much St Francis Assisi was committed to the poor and those on the margins. I’ve been dealing with money issues since I arrived at Fuller 4 years ago.
After I read through the material I started to really wake up and remember all the things I have been freaking out about: making sure to finish all my classes this year, making sure I take enough classes to get money this year, making sure I take enough classes to get my insurance this year etc. All in all I’m freaking out. I’ve prayed and had others praying for me for years and every year this happens. All this to say when I was done reading through the material I was pretty upset.
Then I sang through the song again without paying so much attention to when I was flat and to when the rhythm wasn’t exactly right. I enjoyed it more this time. I started crying when I sang the third verse,
“And all ye men of tender heart, forgiving others, take your part,
O Sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear, Praise God and on Him cast your care:
O praise Him, O praise Him! Alleluia, Alleluia! Alleluia!”
I was completely surprised at how much this verse touched me because I wasn’t consciously thinking about all the things that were upsetting me. I mean I worry about these things all the time but they are just one among the many. Last night in class professor Jensen asked us to take our cares away before we communed with God in the Lectio Divina and during that time I was picturing my heart. I pictured my heart with a dollar sign silver weight sitting on top of it. I saw me trying to pick up that weight and hand it to God. It was difficult and as I opened myself up to that picture I saw a tether that kept that weight connected to my heart. It was a piece of white rope that connected that weight to my heart. I kept trying to give it to God but it kept coming back on me. So when I was singing this verse I had that picture in my mind. “On him cast your care.” I kept thinking about how badly I wanted to drop that weight and ask God to keep it but how I kept holding onto it not willing to let go because I don’t really trust God to really care for me. I know that God always comes through but I often spend hours each day worrying about how God will really do it this time.
After singing the song a second time through, really focusing on the words I was weeping with the pain that resides in my heart. Then I went back to the description and found a prayer that was written there,
“Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is discord, unity.
Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is error, truth.
Where there is despair, hope. Where there is sadness, joy.
Where there is darkness, light.
O divine master, grant that I many not so much seek to be consoled as to console.
To be understood, as to understand. To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving, that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying, that we are born to eternal life.” (20)
I read through this a couple times and let the words was over me.
I was quite surprised at how much this activity affected me. I was surprised at how much it touched my heart and caused me to bring to the surface just how much suffering I was trying to escape. I am an alcoholic, compulsive spender, and a love addict. I am an abuse survivor and I have major trust issues with God, people, and myself. I run from my problems as long as I can but I always end up regretting that decision.