(for Jesus Followers)
“God, I’m sorry but I just have no desire to read Your Word, to read anything. I can’t even pray. My heart is searching for You more than any other point in life, yet I can’t seem to do as I was taught! And church? I just can’t handle it.” Guilt seeped in. My “spiritual” life as a follower if Jesus was changing and it threw me into confusion.
It was exhausting to meet with the church and engaged with teaching! Who wants to hang out with people when feeling so grouchy, when so irritated? And singing? Forget it! Often the noise wore me down. I could hardly stand long enough to get through the music and singing, to engage my incredibly weak lungs in voice! Visiting after? People would ask how I was doing and I wanted to run from the questions! If I began sharing, I began getting opinions: ‘maybe you just need rest’ or ‘perhaps there is a generational sin in the family?’ People either wanted to cast demons out of me or shove pills down my throat. It was intimidating.
What should I do? Should I say all is well when there’s turmoil inside, either turmoil or such deadness I don’t feel anything? And yet…at some points it did touch me that someone cared enough to say something, but the freely given advice without questions asked didn’t help my situation. Somehow, too many opinions sunk me; they stressed me out. It was easy to run from the church.
The Bible? Often I couldn’t focus long enough to read my Bible; if I read it, my eyes would move over the pages but nothing inside of me would engage with the words. Occasionally phrases would hover over my soul for weeks. But sometimes I wouldn’t even think about cracking open the Bible. Yet my search for God was an intense one, almost vicious at times.
Prayer? I cried out to God often and out of the desperation my soul so deeply felt. But it was an outpouring of myself over which I seemed to have no control. I couldn’t make those moments come. And I couldn’t seem to pray for others. I just couldn’t focus. My brain. It just wouldn’t work!
Yet I found Him in another way, a way that brought deep peace and calm to my entire being.
The work of His voice, displays of His beauty, power, creativity, a concern with details that those who hurry do not see. As I think back over that summer, looking over the little ‘grateful’ journal I had, these two things come up over and over again: nature and rest. So grateful for both.
To be in His beauty, I only had to stumble outside the little shack and there for my eyes to feast on was the greenest of grass, the fields, robins, rushing creek, waving limbs of fir, alder and maple; stars bright and clear, the moon ever present, beautiful fog to soften tones and shapes. And His music: the wind in the tree-tops, the bird’s constant song, the creek’s rushing over stones, whinny of horse, howl of a coyote, the frog’s choir of a million voices raised in evening song.
He quieted my soul, soothed my heart, caressed my worry and in those moments I was able to be quiet, be still. I felt Him. I knew Him. And He spoke. I wasn’t reading my Bible. I wasn’t praying. I was letting Him touch me through His design, the one He put on earth that people might see and wonder who He is.
I discovered it was ok if I wasn’t reading or studying His Word. It was ok if I couldn’t sit and pray. Being in His presence, in His world, allowing His creation to quiet and soothe my soul-it was enough. His all encompassing beauty calmed my heart. I needed to slow down, to learn calmness and silence, to pay attention to my needs and allow Him to refresh me through quiet, rest, the song of His world.
Suddenly it was ok. I didn’t have to be reading, praying, church-going. No guilt at this point (believe me-I had struggled with guilt in the past!). This was the new way He breathed life into a wounded soul that was His own. I accepted the gift, drank deeply of life that summer, yes, in the midst of turmoil. Never before has He touched my heart in that manner, the way of stillness and silence covered with His music, of beauty and light, of fog and forms, of the raindrops, the aromas of His earth.
Fellow Jesus Followers
My hope is that those battling brain-affecting sickness would look, would discover those parts of life that bring them into the presence of God. Accept what comes your way. If it’s different from the norm, that is ok. Perhaps you will find music reaches your heart. Perhaps it will be people, reading, poetry or other things. Don’t forsake His Word, communication or His people long-term, but don’t be fearful should the brain be too foggy to connect. Don’t stress and try to force it upon yourself. Let Him reach you in the way He has wired you.