Confession:  When I get “troubled” I find it really hard to pray.

For some reason there is a gap between my brain and my heart.  What I know is that I should be pressing in to God even more when I’m going through rough times.  I should pray and worship, really dig into his word so hard that I find the bones of Adam and Eve.  Even if things don’t turn out the way I want them to I will be progressing with my relationship with God and that makes anything worthwhile.  I will have a little more peace than I usually do and experience more joy.  Or so I’ve heard.
Thing is, whenever something is trouble or hardship or suffering in my life I end up shutting my mouth and keeping it that way for a while.  A while can be anywhere from a week to months.  When things aren’t working the way I want them to I get angry at God.  I take it very personally that the one little or big thing I want can’t just happen, and I get very much like a child.  The way that a toddler throws tantrums, with the yelling and crying and nastiness spouting out of them from every orifice, that is what I throw at God. 
I am slowly changing my attitude, but it takes focus and discipline.  These are not my strong suits.  I’ve been utilising two realizations though, and by remembering these things I am moving towards something.  I think.
The first realization is one that I think applies to everyone: that our emotions, positive or negative, are really just tools leading us to glorifying God.  When we experience emotions that have the ability to pull us away from God we can turn it around.  Behind each emotion, each sinful thought or longing, behind insecurity and pride there is a place in the heart that needs to be filled.  When that place is using our emotions to try to fill it with things that are shallow and sinful we must turn away from its siren call and focus our attention of the Lord.  If you think about it, God is really lenient with us.  If I were in the position of having control over everything and I found out that my creation was thinking or acting the way that I think and act, I’d just have me killed.  That’s one of the many wonderful reasons I’m not in the position to do so, and I’m grateful for that.  So while sometimes I only think about this concept of turning my wicked heart and it’s emotions into a way of strengthening my relationship with my one and only glorious savior and sometimes I actually do turn and try to say something to him aside from “What do I do?  I need YOU to do something.  Now!” I have found a strange comfort in knowing that I can use this hinderance to my benefit.  I just need to switch my gears and stop chasing after what my sinful nature thinks will soothe me.
The other thing that has been helping me is seeing God’s glory in situations and relationships.  It’s incredibly easy for me to forget that there have been answered prayers or anything good really at all in my life when there is something bad happening.  I was going to write a Dirty Dozen in order to focus on that, but I’ll just post a quick list here.

  • The boys have let me come crash on their sofa so I’m not homeless.
  • I have a job.
  • They feed me.
  • The commuter rail isn’t a far walk.
  • I have the weekend off.
  • Tink and her dad are super supportive and kind and rooting for me.  It feels great and I’m so thankful for them.
  • The sun is out and the day is beautiful in its chill.
  • God’s word is like poetry sometimes.
  • I have a voice.
  • I have wonderful friends.
  • I seen God answer prayers all over the place.
  • God gave us his Spirit and when it is at work I am in awe.
  • God’s love can change people.

That last one is a big one that I keep forgetting, even though it’s a really big deal.  It’s happened to me, he changed me from the inside out and renewed me in every way, yet I generally chose to forget about what he’s done and focus on what I want him to do.  The reasoning behind that is similar to the reason that some people never want to be in real relationships: when I get what I want and it’s wonderful and I’m happy there is an inevitable change that means I will not be so happy anymore, most likely because the thing isn’t what I want anymore or it’s taken away.  It hurts and it humbles.  But there is such joy to be had when remembering during worship or prayer what he’s done, and how he’s already proven himself worthy of our admiration and praise time and again. 
That, the idea of giving thanks, is something I’ve heard maybe a billion times.  That’s billion with a B, because it’s a lot.  But since I have a thick skull and have to do things “my way” I can’t just listen and realize it’s true… that’s way to easy!  This was something that I didn’t realize until the Holy Spirit brought the understanding into my mind very recently.  It’s so typical that only God can actually get me to not only listen to him, but talk to him when I decide we’re fighting. 
So what I will be focusing on, aside from trying to figure out my situation in life and see where God’s taking it, is trying to protect my relationship with him by thanking him for what he’s done, and while I’ll still be petitioning my case I will be trying to focus on thanksgiving and praise and other prayer requests as well.

…he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.  (Psalm 103:10-14)