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Posts Tagged ‘prayers’

On my Facebook Author page (@JulieBallantyneBrown), I posted this question tonight:

SATURDAY NIGHT QUESTION TIME!!! Name a book that changed your life. One of mine (I have several books that have changed my life or have caused me to reflect.) is Faith Unraveled by Rachel Held Evans.

I’m posting this because Rachel Held Evans needs your prayers, good thoughts, and/or vibes tonight. She is currently in the ICU in a medically induced coma, according to her husband, Dan. (https://rachelheldevans.com/blog/health-updates) I don’t know her prognosis, but it does sound extremely serious.

I wrote the truth in my post. Her book, Faith Unraveled, did change my life. While growing up, I had questioned so many things about my faith and most of the time, I felt alone. I felt like I wasn’t allowed to question my faith, that I was supposed to see everything in black and white when it came to religion. As I have written about before, I was raised fairly fundamentally, leaving that behind when I had my own family because i didn’t want to raise my kids with the levels of fear and shame that I had grown up with. To me, God was not supposed to be a terrifying entity who sent people to Hell on a whim, but a loving presence who wanted the best for me, for all of us.

Those thoughts of a dreadful God  stayed with me for years, even though I had physically moved on. Then, one day, a friend of mine recommended a book online. It was A Year of Biblical Womanhood. In that book, I was introduced to someone who spoke what I was feeling: my doubts on my faith, my thoughts. I eagerly devoured her other books, but Faith Unraveled really resonated with me. While our experiences weren’t exactly the same (I was never the astute Bible student that she was), it spoke to me that I was not alone, that it was okay to question religion, to question, gulp, God, and to be okay with it because He welcomed our thoughts, our questions, and even our doubt.

I’m not writing to preach tonight, but to ask for help for a woman who has given me a new perspective on faith. It doesn’t matter what religion you are, or if you have any at all. I’m quite positive that she would agree with that.

Shalom, A Blessed Passover, and a Happy Easter (Buona Pasqua, Sabri) to you all.

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Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.

Remember when you’re talking to the Man upstairs

That just because He doesn’t answer, doesn’t mean He don’t care

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers”

“Unanswered Prayers”- Garth Brooks, Pat Alger, Larry Bastian, 1990

For those that don’t know, the song is about a man running into his old high school crush at a football game. He remembers praying for God to bring them together, how he wanted to be with her, praying so desperately that he swore he would never ask for anything again, but, alas, it was not meant to be, although he continued to think about her over they years. Finally, seeing her after all that time, he realized that his wife had been meant for him, that God didn’t grant his request because that girl had not been the right one. (Now, this is a little ironic, because although Garth Brooks said that this song was based on true events, he and his then- wife ended up divorcing and he remarried Trisha Yearwood. Sorry to kill mood of the song, but there you are.)

Even though the true-life version of this song didn’t end very well, the concept is a good one. I can’t count how many times throughout my entire life that I’ve prayed for something that I really wanted, something that I was convinced would be the best thing for me, only to have silence on the other end. Boyfriends, jobs, kids, almost nothing has happened as I have planned it, and most of it has turned out much better than I have ever planned.

I’m going through this situation now, and part of the reason I’m writing this blog is to reassure myself that even though I can’t see it right now, God has His own plan. I’ve been struggling with a part of my life for some time now. I apologize for being cryptic, hopefully later I can explain all, but right now I really can’t. (We’re all healthy and nothing bad is happening, so please don’t worry.) I have an idea of how I want things to go, I’ve spent a lot of time fantasizing about how much better things would be if only… But so far, things haven’t gone the way I think they should, which can be incredibly frustrating. Mr. Marty Man just reminded me of another (paraphrased) line from a play, “God hears all prayers. Sometimes, the answer is no.”

Now, let’s get something straight. God is not a fairy godmother. He is not a wish-granting genie. We are sometimes inclined to think that way, that if we only ask God for what we want, we will get it. Mega-church preachers, like Joel Osteen, preach that message, which, with their millions of dollars, is easy for them to say. As we wait for those very specific things, we are disappointed many times. Does God want us to be happy, to be prosperous? Yes, absolutely! He loves us and wants us to be the best that we can be, but maybe not in the way that we think. Rich does not equal happy. Many millionaires are miserable. Job success does not equal happy. Prosperous means different things for different people. Contentment equals happiness, and contentment doesn’t equal the same things for everyone.

In scripture, we’re told to ask for the things we want, but that God will grant us the things we need. It’s a little confusing sometimes, I know. In my mind, I’m thinking: I’m a good person. I go to church, I pray, I read my devotional, and I try to live my life the best I can, and I’ve worked for it. WHY hasn’t (this) happened??? God doesn’t work like that. Sometimes there’s a lesson that I need to learn, or somebody that needs my help before I move on, or that was definitely not the right boy to marry, or going to this event would have meant that I missed something that I loved even more. We won’t always know the reasons why our life takes certain directions. As someone who is been diagnosed OCD, I like to know not only what is happening, but why it is happening and the timeline involved, but, again, God doesn’t work that way. We need to learn patience. I HATE patience, by the way. I never pray for it, figuring that I don’t want any extra doses, but it is necessary for a good character.

Why? Why does God do this? Well, think about it. As a child, did your parents give in to your every whim? I hope not, I really hope not. Good parents know that that giving a child everything he/she demands makes a spoiled, entitled child. The same is true for adults. Just because we’re grown doesn’t mean we’re mature. We all know people who seem to be mentally stuck in middle school and live by the principle of self-gratification. Crimes are committed and lives are destroyed because people think they should have something and they decide to get it by any means necessary, throwing away morals, compassion for others, and their sense of right and wrong. Getting everything that we want sets a dangerous precedent and teaches us that our desires are more important than the basic rights of others. God knows this, hence the unanswered prayers.

When I was in my teens and early twenties, I thought I knew it all, like every other young adult. But the older I get, the more I realize that I have so much to learn, that every situation I’m in, whether it makes me happy and seems to fall perfectly into place or whether it leaves me crying in frustration or rage, teaches me something and that I will never know it all.

God doesn’t give us a perfectly mapped-out life. Instead, it’s like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure Books, every choice you make leads to different circumstances. Even those who don’t believe in God can agree with that. If I didn’t decide to go to that party, I never would have met her. If I didn’t work at that camp, I never would have changed my major. Our choices and how we deal with the good or bad consequences of those choices help to design our characters, our personalities. God doesn’t make us do anything, He provides opportunities and we have to decide what we want to do. I’ve learned to pray and to listen to my intuition, trusting that God will lead me where I need to be. It may not be what I have envisioned, I still don’t have a writing contract, but I have faith, however shaky it can be at times, that He will answer my prayers in one way one another. It’s just that sometimes, the answer is, “No”.

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