Sunday, March 19, 2006

Prayer and Fortune Cookies

You sit in any church, you’re invariably gonna hear them tell you to take your concerns, cares, questions about the future to God in prayer. So when do you get an answer? I was concerned, because 99% of the time, I couldn’t tell if the answer I was getting was actually postmarked from God, or my frantic subconscious piecing something together that it thought I wanted to hear. How Do You Know What’s An Answer From God? And one of my favorite nonanswerable questions of all time: How Do You Know When God’s Answer Is No, Or Not Yet. Ha ha ha.

Ever since I started 2006, I’ve discovered the best time to pray to God is when I’m on the ellipticals at my gym. I am the world’s most unfortunate early morning person. I’d really rather not be, but it’s a straight DNA line right down the middle of my family, and sister Agatha got Mom’s side, and I got Dad’s side. It’s disgustingly textbook. Dad has brown hair, blue eyes, so do I. Dad has bowed legs, so do I. Dad gets up at 5:30 without an alarm clock, and so unfortunately, do I.

But that’s where my gym comes in, since they open at 5am. And it’s me jamming away on the ellipticals in front of the windows, looking something like this, except it’s an elliptical, not a treadmill (trying to save my knees), and it’s not Hong Kong.

But I discovered that the ellipticals are a great place to pray. I can either pray to God, or I can stare at the display that tells me I’ve got twenty-eight more minutes to go. So I shut my eyes and pray.

Following a recipe/sermon I once heard at church a long time ago, I thank God for a bunch of stuff first (my job, my ability to write and not suck at it, my opposable thumbs), I pray for other people second (big long list), and talk about myself third.

The weird thing about praying is that God already knows what you’re gonna ask, but He wants you to ask it anyway. Why? I dunno. Probably something having to do with the fact that He wants you to get into the habit of talking to Him on a regular basis. I always wanna pull a Ren & Stimpy, slap a gigantic suction cup on my brain and think my “Captain’s Log” directly up to the sky.

So basically, God knows what you’re gonna say, but He wants you to say it anyway, because there’s something powerful in the act of articulating what you want. I used to journal all the time about how if you name your fear, it becomes real. But it’s supposed to work the other way too. If you name your dream, wants, desires, they become real…as long as they’re in God’s will for you. ARGH! I KNEW THERE WAS A CATCH!

So basically, God knows what you’re gonna say, but He wants you to say it anyway, and if it just happens to be in His will, He’ll grant it to you. Ah, there’s the rub. In His will. This one devotional book I read talks about says you shouldn’t even have to question whether what you want is in God’s will for you or not, because you’re supposed to be so closely aligned with God, that His will is your will, His wants should be your wants as well. Yeah? I want world hunger to end. Where’s the big POOF, your prayer is granted, huh?

When it comes to articulating my personal wants apart from world peace, I like to use the rationalization of Ask for it anyway, because you never know. Maybe God’s gonna grant your request regarding your secular No Trace Of God Anywhere screenplay because He’s got an ulterior motive for it. It can happen. God uses the strangest things to reach people in the strangest ways. I wanna be a strange thing for God! I wanna be a freaky strange way! Me! Me! Sign me up for the Strangeness please!

And there have been two times in my elliptical travels where I think I got something. Something that seemed…otherworldly? Yeah, alien, sheesh, try again. I think I got something that seemed…outside of myself and my interior monologue.

The first time was me fretting and dratting away because I couldn’t seem to get around a particular plot hole in a script I was working on. And it seems retarded to ask for God’s help. Dear God, please help me figure out how I’m supposed to kill Bad Guys 1 and 2 in the graveyard. Please? I’m out of ideas, there’s only so many ways you can clock someone with a shovel, and I’m trying to be creative here. They’re Bad Guys, so they should die anyway. The internal monologue, which sounds like a sixty piece orchestra conducted by hamsters. struck up about how I’m so stupid to ask for God’s help, this is a supernatural horror script, why would God deign to extend a supernatural assist to something like that, when He could be out solving world hunger, or helping some other Godly screenwriter who’s trying to write a summer tentpole movie about David and Goliath. All those people deserve help. Not me. Not me, silly silly me, and what’s wrong with me anyway, why am I trying to write this kind of script. What am I doing here, why aren’t I applying for a staff job in a church. Why aren’t I trying to get a job writing for Veggietales. Why don’t I…

And then, suddenly, a thought floated from in somewhere outside myself. And all it said was…

The answers will come.

Oh. Oh are you FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME!? THAT’S MY ANSWER!? That’s so vague, so random, so fortune cookie oblique. That’s something that you’d see in a really bad beer commercial, the hikers are climbing to the top of Mt. Incredibly Tall, seeking wisdom, truth and enlightenment, and the bearded cross legged man sitting at the very top says “The answers will come.” And then hands them a Budweiser or something. I can’t believe it, don’tcha wanna make it more personal, or something? The answers will come, Amy. Amy, the answers will come.

So I railed to God about how dumb that answer was, went home and promptly fixed the hole in my script. Sigh. Okay, I get it, I get it.

The second time, was a few months later, still on the ellipticals (yes, this is an elliptical, just the scientific kind) where after I thanked God for a bunch of stuff first (my incredibly cool bosses, the fact that my car still runs, Amazing Race went back to the two person team format.) I pray for other people second (still a big long list, basically, anyone I’ve ever met in my entire life), and talk about myself third. Today, I’m talking to God about this particular project of mine that’s been in limbo for years and years. Literally, years and years, and can we just reach some sort of conclusion with the financiers? Let the financing come through or let it go, but can we please get an answer one way or another? ‘Cause I’m tired of being in this state of suspended hope. Can you, dear Lord, please let me know? I totally understand if the answer is “let it go” ‘cause that’s the answer I’ve been prepping myself for, but just any answer would be cool. Is it gonna happen this year, Lord? Are we gonna make this movie this year Lord?

The internal monologue run by hamsters struck up again. How dare you ask God to send a financier to give you money to make this non-God orientated film. Well, I was gonna tithe ten percent of what I’d make. God doesn’t want your Non-God orientated film money! You shut up right now and find out where the Veggietale people have their production office and go apply for a job! Sit on their doorstep until they see…

And then, suddenly, a thought floated in from somewhere outside myself. And all it said was…

In my time. Not yours.

Oh not again. Why don’t I go down to Panda Express and see what THEIR fortune cookies have to say…hey, wait a second, IT WASN’T NO! The thought wasn’t “No way, go home and write about Daniel in the lions’ den.” The thought was “In my time, not yours.” Which is ALMOST a yes. Almost. It’s quite possible that “In my time” could mean fifteen years from now. But it’s not a no.

Maybe I’m taking it completely the wrong way, and maybe I’m jinxing myself by writing about it here. But the point is, I know where God is, and I’ve actually HEARD Him, on two occasions. Is hearing the same as feeling? Am I demanding too much? I know where you are, and I know you’ve talked to me, but scratch all that, I want MORE. I want to FEEL you. Little brat. Little ungrateful brat.

How Do You Know When It’s God, Or You Really Really Wanting To Believe It Was God? I don’t know. I just don’t know.


Midlife Virgin said...

I think you're finding God in your own way. I find Him in the funniest places, too. I think it's where you're most open, most unguarded and not thinking about connecting with God, even though you may be talking to him. That's when you find Him the most. He's funny that way. Keep listening...

Yummyteece said...

NOt to sounds like a fortune cookie, but why don't you just trust that it was God? what do you get out of thinking it might not have been God? Why would you headtrip yourself for no apparenty reason? you prayed for an answer... you GOT an answer...

why would then question the process?