Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Why I Don't Pray Out Loud

Almost 4 years ago, I joined what my church calls a small group.  It was smallish then.  It started as a small house party at one of the couples' houses on the lake.  It was a nice little cookout with burgers and dogs.  I was feeling all nervous to be around a lot of adults I had never met.  I was a first-time mom going on little sleep, toting a two-week-old newborn around.  I sat quietly and took it all in because I really do feel uncomfortable around new people, especially when they aren't little people.  But God knew I needed an icebreaker so he let said newborn have explosive diarrhea through his clothes and all down my lap.  The host of the groupstart quickly jumped up and got me fresh clothes and changed his diaper.  So began my journey with the "Soddy Daisy Small Group."   

Many of the couples that were at that cookout are still part of our group that meets almost every Wednesday in one of the families' homes.  And month-by-month, more families join in on the fun.  There were months things just "didn't feel right" for one reason or another.  Sometimes spending our Wednesdays without our boys when we had a million other things to do seemed a little overwhelming.  Sometimes conviction happened and we got our feelings hurt.  Sometimes we just felt out of place.  Then, somewhere along the way, I realized I needed these people.  A turning-point in my feelings about this group was the day my second son was put in the NICU and the group wrapped their arms and their resources and their prayers around him and our family.  The feeling that these people were our family was overwhelming.  It opened my eyes to the fact that these people were put in my life for a reason, each bringing something into my life that was missing. 

Together we have laughed (probably more laughing than anything else), we have cried (probably second more than anything else), we have eaten (just as much), we have prayed, and we have lived.  We have lived a lot of life alongside each other, the good, the bad, the ugly, the downright heartbreaking, and the fantastic!

But there are times like tonight that I realize that I need these people...that we need each-other.  I don't pray out loud because I don't have much to say, but when I do, I can't seem to get the words from my heart to my mouth.  But oftentimes, they can make their way to my paper.

Tonight, there was a church-wide worship service.  That means that our church is packed to the brim with people and packed to the brim with children.  Tonight, my husband and I helped corral the children.  Tonight, while most of the congregation was singing "No Other Name," we were watching Bob the Tomato explain that he was "stuck between Iraq and a hard place," and Larry the Cucumber sing about not wanting to use a sippy-cup.  Then we were coloring doorknob hanger that said "Believe in miracles and trust in Jesus."  Parents were beginning to pick up these Papa John's pizza-filled little bundles of joy.  Then one of my dear friends from my small group rounded the corner for a hug.  I could tell she was holding back tears.  After years of occasional tears, you begin to learn what that pre-cry face looks like.  So there was a hug followed by a phone call.  I'm not a big phone person, but I felt like calling her anyways.  I am glad I called because I have felt EXACTLY how she is feeling tonight when another woman in my small group said to me what I said to her tonight.

Paraphrased phone convo:
I feel like such a terrible person.  I give my best to my students and my son, my husband gets what I have left, and God gets my scraps.  Tonight during the prayer I heard God saying he was disgusted by my heart lately.  I am selfish.  I am tired.  My husband is a saint.  He deserves better.  But I am so tired.

Paraphrased answer...worded much better than the phone convo for the same reason I don't pray out loud:
That is NOT the voice of God.  That is the voice trying to convince you it is God and that you are not enough.  God doesn't see all that you think is wrong with you.  God smiles on you because you are a rockstar teacher, rockstar mom, rockstar friend, rockstar wife, and rockstar daughter-of-God...not at all in that order.  He created you because the world needs a YOU and my family and I need a YOU and your family needs a YOU.  Even at your worst, you radiate Christ.  God knows you are tired.  He knows you love your son even when you growl at him because you just want sleep.  He knows you adore your husband (and so does everyone who knows you).  So just keep being awesome.  Fill those journals with honest prayers and uplifting verses...and I will do my best to take my own advice.  Jam to worship music on the way to school (or don' don't have to).  Love on your boys with all the love you have to give, but don't be so hard on yourself.  Communicate.  Unfortunately we didn't marry mind-readers.  That would get boring anyways.  Smile.  And when you can't smile, cry.  Have fun.  Don't be so hard on yourself.  Let him cry it out sometimes.  But not always.  Serve where you can.  Let those who love you serve you when they can.  And as that crazy-wonderful husband of mine likes to say: "Keep DOING YOU!  God's got you, girl!"

Her tears tonight led me to share the words other people have shared with me at times when I needed them.  I hope she's not the only one needing to hear these words passed along.  Share them with someone who needs to be reminded that they rock...who needs to remember how God sees them...who needs to look past their shortcomings and give themselves a break...someone who needs to know that God is smiling at their mess.

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