Monday, August 10, 2009

Praying Oh So Badly

"Come and see what God has done,
how awesome his works in man's behalf!"
~Psalm 66:5

Part of my intent in starting this blog was to force myself to look at silver linings, the half-full glass, and all. In light of that goal, I avoid writing in it unless I can actually feel like talking about something...well, good. This will in part explain why I haven't updated in over a month ('in part' meaning I also had tons of stuff to do). Sometimes it's hard to see past the looming monsters of student loan debt, family problems, the economic crisis...not enjoying the single life....

However, one must keep her head up. Last night after a very good Sunday wherein I spent time with friends, ate delicious barbecue food, etc., there was also a lot of saying goodbye to people, and I am still at a loss as to why it was made to seem as though my closest friend was moving to the outer regions of Andromeda 9, some 3 billion light-years past our solar system. She is moving to New Jersey, for crying out loud. I will still see her plenty, thank you very much! But since everyone was rubbing it in, I was all: I AM ALONE IN THIS WORLD.

My sister Brittany wasn't there, which probably had a lot to do with it.

Anyway, there are terms for the way I was feeling at about...oh, 1:30 a.m. Old-timey people called it melancholy, or maybe blue? I don't really like 'blue'. Nowadays some call it 'emo'. Nobody was on Facebook. Nobody was on DeviantART. My drawing was suddenly boring and pointless. I couldn't look at anything or read anything. Sallie Mae informed me via email that I was thisclose to defaulting on my loan, whatever that means (and it can't be something good). That loan, the one that eats up entire paychecks. Whatever! I was so annoyed and alone and kept rotating my neck and mussing my hair (I didn't have any sackcloth and ashes handy).

Well, God, I thought, I am so forlorn, and things are so BAD! Oh, woe is me. You would probably tell me that hey, some people have it worse! Someone always has it worse--you could be sick, or someone could die, or you could have no job at all, or no friends, or--Well, I don't care--I have it pretty bad. And hey, You're God! Your job is to comfort me. So I will read my Bible (extra Christian points for doing it out of my normal routine, AND at night...almost as good as sackcloth!) and You will have some words to tell me yes, it is bad, but everything will be okay and I am a good girl and people love me.

I've done this in the past--felt strongly about something, and opened up to the book of Psalms and read whatever one I saw first. It seems a bit superstitious, but the one I choose is always PERFECT for the situation. However, doing so in such a spirit of whiny me-first presumption, God often has some surprises waiting when we come wailing to His throne. I fully expected to come upon a Psalm like, oh...maybe 46. The sort that basically tells you "God will kick all the bad guys dead. And He'll place YOU on top!" There is a time and attitude for that sort, but mine was not it. I would have crowed in triumph, Yes, God! ME! I'm the worst off! (I deserve it!)--I don't think I'd have said what's in those parentheses, but that was my attitude.

I opened to this:

Psalm 66

Shout with joy to God, all the earth!

Sing the glory of his name;

make his praise glorious!

Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.

All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing praise to your name."

Come and see what God has done,
how awesome his works in man's behalf!

He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the waters on foot—
come, let us rejoice in him.

He rules forever by his power,
his eyes watch the nations—
let not the rebellious rise up against him.

Praise our God, O peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard;

he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping.

For you, O God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.

You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.

You let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.

I will come to your temple with burnt offerings
and fulfill my vows to you-

vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke
when I was in trouble.

I will sacrifice fat animals to you
and an offering of rams;
I will offer bulls and goats.

Come and listen, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.

I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.

If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;

but God has surely listened
and heard my voice in prayer.

Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!

....I almost thought I'd found the 'wrong' Psalm. I wanted to hear about me, me, oh, and quite possibly me, but when I looked at the psalm, God was saying LOOK AT ME! Not at you, not at your problems or at your desires, but at ME! He was saying in this psalm that it is HIS glory that matters, the things He has done that are mighty. The psalm begins with praise to the Lord, telling you to forget ALL that comes before His glory and scream about it, shout that HE IS GOD.

And when it is done saying that, it tells you that God watches all, rules all, and forgets no one. This means that He deals with us in ways we don't always like, He lays "burdens" on us, and lets "men ride over our heads." That last part is so picturesque to me. People stepping, riding horses on your HEAD. How much lower could a person feel? But He does it to REFINE us. He leads us through "fire and water" to bring us to His abundance. And it ends, it ends saying that God HEARS us. He hears us and listens and "does not reject" our prayers! Even if we are praying out of heart filled with discontentment and wounded feelings, He knows which parts of it we really mean, and can sift out of our awful badly-put-together prayers which things are the true pure desires and sorrows. He does not withhold love because of our clumsy, whining way of asking.

It said every single thing I could have wanted to hear. And all at once I realized what I
should have been praying for all along. I should have told God, Lord, I do not have money for such-and-so. Please provide it because I have no way. Please protect my credit from the loan service. Don't let me be treated unfairly. Take away my envy and my discontent, and my anxiety, my crippling anxiety that burdens my health and destroys the gentleness of my spirit, that makes me hard and rough on the inside, and old before my time in my heart. Replace it with peace, and trust, and joy. Thank you for my blessings. Please add more if it is your will. But let me be content anyway.

I think Psalm 66 is now one of my favorites. Along with 2, 46, and 100. It says everything, everything. It's perfect.

I still highly recommend the randomly-opening-to-Psalms method. Sometimes it feels like your heart is just going to overflow with things and you just need to get your head clear.

I apologize for the blatant this is how I really am--a bratty jerk but I think maybe others could relate...?...I hope?...anybody...? Don't all speak up at once now...heh....*sweat sweat*


Jenn said...

Hey, you.

You are so wonderful, and you most definitely made me cry.

This was so honest, and I can definitely relate. I must say that I have a lot of respect for you.

I am NOT moving to another galaxy, nor do I plan on ever doing so. It's so cold and dark there, not to mention oxygen-less. Besides, there are probably aliens. Mulder says so.

Elizabeth said...

Melissa! I'm going through some of the same feelings and situations. Thanks for sharing--this was really encouraging.

Kathleen said...

Hi Melissa!

I usually don not have time, or the attnetion span to sift through blogs, emails, or anything of length on the internet before the baby cries or my eyes burn, but FINALLY tonight I sat down and read some of your blogs. You write beautifully. And I think everyone can relate to your thoughts and ideas one way or another. I also open randomly to the Psalms sometimes...I haven't done it in a while, you have inspired me. I think I might try it tonight :) God is good. Keep on writing. I am slightly envious, in a good way (?), of your dedication to writing and creativity. I used to write almost everyday. Now, however, the only words I find myself writing are wall posts, emails, texts, and occasionaly a 'thank you' card. Just by reading a few of your blogs I realize we have a bunch in common. We should get coffee :) Jenn--you should come, too!

Kayte Gonnella

Kathleen said...

PS. Sorry for the typos, ect. I am exhausted, typing on a laptop (which I hate!), and talking to my dad. Scatter brain.

PPS. Boo Sallie Mae. Do not let your loans default-life will get much more complicated! Trust me, I know first hand. Ugh.