Over the next couple of months, I'm offering Tuesday reflections on pain, healing, and recovery. I hope you’ll join the community of folks walking this road together. (To keep up with this reflection series, signup for blog updates in the maroon box in the left sidebar.)
This is what it means to face the pain, and if you were to ask me how I feel in the quickening moments, I’d tell you that I feel abandoned, empty, sick.
There are hollow prayers I’ve considered not worth uttering. Today, I’ll pray them.
Liberate me! Heal me! Give me good news!
At first, my requests for relief only rattle and echo in my stomach. So I ask again and I hear. What? The coming of something quiet?
I am the Lord your God; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
I gravitate toward silence. For those of you who enjoy personality tests, you might say it's a product of my introversion. For those of you into the enneagram, you might say it's a product of my five-ness. For those of you into psychology or sociology, you might say it's a product of a noise-culture pressing against my still raw childhood wounds. Who knows? I'm not an expert on my own motivations.
Here's what I know: yesterday I sat on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, and a friend told me there were whales out beyond my line of sight. I sat and considered those prowlers of the deep, the way schools of fish meet their end in a single gulp, the way they surface to blow water twenty feet in the air. I thought of the majesty of it all, how I believe in "One God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth." And as I considered this credal belief, the imagination of the creator God, I wondered, "how could a God who makes such majesty leave us here to cut each other to death?"
I sat as the waves broke against the shore, sat in quietness of the ocean roar, and listened.
These aren't so much audible voices as inklings, rephrasings of the wind that come from the heart not the head. In the quiet, I knew the truth: we've not been left alone in our pain. We have a truer, consistent, and abiding bonded love. I listened for a few minutes, let it all sink in.
Cultivating the practice of listening in prayer is a difficult sort of husbandry. What does the voice of God sound like? How do we know it’s his voice and not our own? What of the distracting thoughts that interrupt our prayers?
The voice of God sounds an awful lot like peace, patience, and love. It sounds a lot like constancy. Should it come as any surprise?
1. This morning, sit in the silence. What questions come to mind?
2. Wait in the silence. Listen. What do you hear? Can you hear the voice of God speaking to your pain?
3. If you’d like to discuss this prompt, along with other reflections, feel free to join the Coming Clean Insiders Group on Facebook. There, a few souls gather and discuss a range of topics, including addiction, pain, and the path to healing.
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