Saturday, May 16, 2015

The struggle to talk to God (even though it should be simple)

You know that feeling when you see someone all the time? You laugh together, maybe cry in front of each other, talk constantly, see each other more often than you see anyone else?

And then, for whatever reason, you drift apart?

And then, after you force yourself to contact them and get through the awkwardness of it all because you know there's something there worth getting back, get together for a burger?

And you feel fidgety, and uncomfortable, and a little sad, and not quite like yourself, as you munch on your reunion lunch? Hoping to rush through it, desperately wanting to be back in the comfort of your own space, even if it's lonely? Wondering if maybe your friendship will never be like it once was?

That's how I feel about my relationship with God right now.

It's 3:20 a.m. right now, and I waited about 20 (did I even make it 15?) minutes before I finally caved and grabbed my laptop and pulled it up here on the bed with me to possibly type this or to at least peruse Facebook and check my email, to escape the discomfort of my guilt ridden thoughts.

When I woke up -- possibly due to the inexplicably egregious amount of Diet Coke I drank yesterday -- and found myself in that state of boredom that prevents one from falling back asleep at 3 a.m., I dared myself to resist the laptop urge.

I tried to get myself to talk to God instead.

And, as always these days -- and for a number of years I don't care to admit -- it felt weird.



A little sad.

Or maybe a lot.

First, there's the conversational method. Do I ask questions? Start prattling off facts and feelings, Dear Diary style? Lie motionless and wait to feel His stillness?

Second, what to talk about? Apologize for not conversing lately? Question which of my actions are considered sinful -- since, while the Bible gives so many guidelines and society gives a billion more, the agreed upon standards are so muddy? Just sit back and talk to Him like an old friend, since all is forgiven, and in order to believe that I better just start acting like I believe it and pretend there's no awkwardness in our interactions?

A large part of me wishes I could just fall back asleep right now, and once again ignore these tuggings come morning. But I think maybe it's good to write it out.

I can say for once I know I'm not alone in this.

I find, in the worlds of religion and otherwise, that people tend to be black or white on this: fully confident in their conversations and relationship with the Man Upstairs, or slinking in the shadows, afraid to talk too loudly about their God relationship issues -- or lack thereof altogether -- the way one would avoid talk of a fresh divorce, whispering around the subject but mostly just moving on as quickly as possible to small talk, grasping on to the latest popular sporting event for topic even though you don't care much about sports at all.

And who are we kidding, really? Certainly not Him.

I'm good at reading Christian books. Listening to pretty Christian music. Smiling and speaking friendly when I greet people every third Sunday of the month as they mosey from the parking structure to the auditorium where we worship at a local school.

And then I'm really good at skipping church afterward, and not coming back to the campus until the next third Sunday.

Not that it's all about going to church. I've long been clear to express my opinion on that. God loves you if you wear jeans to church, don't go to church, struggle over the complicated and ancient words of the Bible.

But, like any relationship, quit attending to it, quit showing up, and your chances of feeling normal and happy and relaxed in that relationship are minimal, laughable.

So when, like me, one doesn't read the Bible, go to church, meditate, pray, talk (too) much about God with her friends, then what's there?

Confusion. 3 a.m. Diet Coke induced stupor and frustration. And some hope. Some trust that God is steadfast and who He's always said He is -- loving. Forgiving. Chasing after us.

Praying is hard. Reading the Bible -- which, I find jumps from topics like adultery to "let the children come to me" to beautiful Psalm 139 that makes me weep -- is hard. Talking to God and letting Him know you're scared, and sad, and completely unsure of where to walk next in your faith journey is hard.

But maybe that's where I need to start. I'm pretty good, with my friends here on earth, in 'fessing up when I'm sad, confused, scared. I openly complained in recent weeks to coworkers about the exhaustion of searching for an apartment, about the joys of my friendship with my future roommate. Maybe this talking with God thing doesn't need to be as hard as I'm making it to be.

But Friends, I understand if you feel that it is hard. Because it can be so hard. Hold on. And message me in the comments to remind me I'm not alone, and offer tips for getting that conversation with the Best Friend of all back in gear. I'm all ears.

Love and Hope,

P.S. Also, this beautiful song that has given me comfort came on my Pandora shuffle station while I was writing this, so I will share it with you:


  1. Hey Bailey. Not sure if you remember me, but we went to Valpo together and had a few psych classes in common. I've read your blog from time to time (found it on my husband, Kory's, Facebook) and this time I wanted to speak up.

    First, you are definitely not alone. I have had seasons where I was spending an hour or two reading/praying every day. I have had seasons where I did not crack the Bible open for a month. I have always gone to church, but I credit that to Kory. I rarely feel like going and usually do not get much out of it. I learn a lot better by reading/writing than by hearing someone talk at me. I do like the worshiping-Him-together part, though. So I'm glad Kory encourages me to go.

    The difference between the two seasons for me, I have realized, is accountability. It helps me a lot to be involved in a Bible study where I know someone is going to wonder where I was (if I don't come) and ask me questions about what I read. I love reading Christian books, but they aren't substitute for the Bible. And talking together with others about the Bible is a lot easier than trying to figure out all of the confusing passages by yourself.

    About praying. You are a writer. I like to think I am a sort of writer. I would highly recommend writing out prayers. A couple of benefits to this: you can read back over them later and actually see Him at work. Also, for me, I think more clearly/slowly as I write. And it feels a lot less like I'm just talking to myself. It's more like I'm writing a letter to Him. Talking out loud works too, but I prefer writing.

    Just so you know, writing this was rather convicting for me. Again, you are definitely not alone in your struggle. (Quick side note: loved your post about mental health awareness. There also, I can relate. This comment is already insanely long, so I won't go into details. Perhaps another time :))

    1. Cara! Of course I remember you, and what a lovely surprise and note from you!! Thanks for the kind words, glad the comment gave you a chance to hash some of your own thoughts out. :) Writing is a gift in that way, helps us learn stuff we didn't know. You're so right about the accountability thing. I'm moving in with a Christian roommate and we are already discussing having Bible study/prayer time together. Blessings to you and yours! Say hi to that Kansas husband of yours!