“To listen is to continually give up all expectation and to give our attention, completely and freshly, to what is before us… to listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.”
— Mark Nepo, The Exquisite Risk
I am by far having one of the hardest years of my life. And it’s only February.
The battle is mental, spiritual. I’m desperate to hear God’s voice, and I find myself teetering on the edge of wanting to end it all… I’ve never cried so many tears nor have I ever spent so much time on my knees at the edge of my bed praying, face flat into the pillow, asking God to show up, taking a break to look up at my phone to switch between social media and Google searches for for affordable therapists, then back to prayer.
It’s been chaotic in my soul, to say the least.
One thing I can appreciate, though, is the battle. I’ve never fought so hard for anything before. There’s something to be revealed in me through the way I have been clawing and clamoring, demanding answers from God, petitioning for peace within my soul, asking God to fulfill my need to feel loved, to matter…
Slowly I can feel myself discovering my worth. Discovering what God is up to with my story, and the character I’m supposed to be in other people’s stories. I never seem to run out of encouragement for others, especially toward my girlfriend. The real battle is for me to encourage myself, though. And sometimes that looks like me just needing to shut up and listen.
It’s not always clear to me when God speaks. I feel like I do most of the talking. And I find that I don’t have much patience for dead space. But maybe that’s exactly what I need to get used to — often in my boredom I desire to just fill up my space with tons of nonsense and distractions. I haven’t really learned the discipline to be still and listen. Even when God doesn’t speak.
The truth is I’ve been spending more time with God than I ever have, and I’m always convicted that it’s only during times of extreme duress like this. It’s pretty crazy to think that God feels so much unrequited, jilted love from so many of His creation. And how often I ditch him when things start to get better. I never truly include Him in my life – He’s only my center when I cry out and let Him drive, when everything spirals out of control as a result of me trying to steer my own life.
So I am just trying to listen more… to pay attention, to train myself to be alert at all times, to be ready for when the moment God does speak, I’ll be aware. Until then, I am starting to understand that there is no immediate rescue plan, that maybe God wants me in this turmoil a little longer, to make me a little stronger, and if I continue in that perspective I can’t help but be grateful.
Maybe an answer won’t come, maybe a great revelation or audible voice won’t dawn on me. Maybe God is just enjoying that I’m near and responsive to Him again. And truthfully, even when there is no answer, I do feel loved. And that’s the proof of God’s presence, after all.