Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

1/1/2008

Talking to God

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:56 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

I’m not sure how well I communicate with God.

The other day at one of the men’s group meetings I go to, we were talking about maintaining a conscious contact with God, about our personal relationships with Him. Naturally, that led most of us to talk about prayer. Me? Not so much.
I feel like I’ve stopped talking to God this year. There was a point at which I stopped having anything nice to say, so I stopped talking. In fact, I was a little bit pissed off at God. I mean, I know I haven’t live the best life always, but I just couldn’t imagine what I might have done that deserved the divine retribution of lymphoma. And, really, as a fellow cancer survivor sitting next to me pointed out later, it’s not the disease that’s hard to survive, but the treatment. Take it from me. That is the truth.

Now, it’s important that you understand something. I don’t think that God turned away from me. Though I may not understand His plan or how He works, I knew that God was with me the entire time through treatment. But, I got so angry at Him that I couldn’t pray the way I used to pray. And, I’ve always struggled with the idea that God cares, really, truly cares about someone as small and insignificant as me. Or you, really, so don’t start feeling all sorry for me. I mean, I get that there is a God and that he’s all powerful and created the whole universe and the laws that govern it. That’s not a hard concept for me. Hell, Darwin believed that evolution was evidence that God existed. So, I’m good there.
But, I’ve always struggled with the idea that something so huge could possibly care about me, us, at all. Doesn’t He have larger concerns than that? How could He have the time and patience for our little, flyspeck lives?

So, before my chemotherapy was done, I’d all but stopped praying.
Oh, I still read my morning and evening devotional. And, I still worked through my prayer beads, when I had time and energy. After I started to get back into my normal pattern of life, albeit somewhat altered by my medical “stuff”, I got back into working through rote prayer with my prayer beads almost every morning. But, it was hollow. An empty gesture. A habitual, almost superstitious, pattern of behavior. There just wasn’t anything behind it. No emotion, no connection.

So, with all that in mind, we started talking about prayer and being in touch with God at the meeting.  I listened, and spoke.  Mostly, I talked about how I was afraid to listen to God for fear of what He might say to me.  I was, and am, still afraid that God will challenge me to be more than I am, do more than I’m capable or willing to do.
But, I’m also afraid of what will become of me if I don’t pursue that personal relationship with God.  I know that I won’t last long on my own.  As in “nothing good can come of it”, right?

A couple days later, I was thinking about a conversation I was going to have with a friend.
I wanted to allay his fears that anything might be wrong and I wanted to say it the “right” way.  So, as is my habit, I rehearsed the conversation, trying to work out how to say what I needed to say and what his responses might be.  And, yes, I spoke out loud.  At least, I spoke my half of the imagined conversation out loud.  That’s one of the advantages of living alone.  The dog thinks I’m talking to her and just wags her tail.
In any case, I’ve had this habit of rehearsing important conversations to try out assorted responses and plan out my contingencies.  It’s actually served me well over the years.  I usually have a good grasp of what folks are going to say and how they’re going to react to what I say.  But, somehow, running through all this makes it easier for me.

And that was when something that someone said at the meeting clicked for me.  I don’t think he meant it this way, but it sort of fit me.  It occurred to me that perhaps in doing this conversation rehearsal, what I was doing was talking to God.  Maybe, I was just hanging my friends’ faces on God, to make Him easier to see and hear and talk to, so I could find Him and tell Him, in a way, what was on my mind.  Not as a lowly follower to an all-powerful God, but as a younger, smaller friend seeking help and advice from an older, more worldly, more experienced and capable friend.

So, maybe I’ve been talking to God all along.  Maybe my prayers don’t start with supplication and end in “amen”, but they’re still there.  It’s possible that in my efforts to hide from his message, I’ve found it after all.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."
   --James Baldwin


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