Monday, May 28, 2007

Talking, But Not Asking

Ethel Update: She lives! Ethel Lives! Ethel is now up and about and zooming around Los Angeles like she always was. Turns out the gas sensor was stuck, so when the dial was reading that I had a sliver’s worth of gas left, enough to get me to the nearest gas station, it actually was that I had ZERO gas. Stella’s Wella is the most awesomest mechanic around, and I owe him my firstborn (nobody tell him that I’m not having kids, ha ha ha.)

So I was reading this book, 10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You: (But Can't, Because He Needs the Job) a few weeks ago, because I’m a sucker for a Grab Me Title like that, and because the Los Angeles Public Library system is the best thing for people who don’t have the money or the space in their room to buy book after book.

This book is rather slight, though, barely a hundred pages, and while there are some topics that they don’t go into in depth as they could (such as The Role Of Women In The Church, which our own awesome chick pastor Dulcina covered much better a few weeks ago), and some topics that I think just COULDN’T be that easy to answer and thus will require more research on my part when I have time in, oh, mid 2009 (such as the Easy Peasy Presto answer that when the Bible talks about homosexuality, they’re using the Greek word for pedophilia.)

But there was one interesting thing I gleaned from it, which was the topic of prayer. The author defines prayer as (paraphrasing here) “A conversation with God, not simply a list of requests.”

And oh dear me, I am first in the line of offenders of Praying A Laundry List O’ Requests. Of course I am. I know SO many people whose moms are suffering from different forms of cancer. I know SO many people who’re trying to claw themselves out of the pit of depression and would love an Almighty Assist. And that’s before we get to my own personal prayers (which are short and simple: would like a better job, would like to sell a script, would like to love and be loved, please o please o please o please amen.)

But could I actually have a conversation with God where I wasn’t asking for anything? Well, that would be interesting to try. Ha, look at me. “That’d be interesting to try.” That’s probably what He’s been wanting THIS ENTIRE TIME.

Of course it’s difficult. I’d be chatting with God about my day, and thanking Him for the things that I do have (I have clothes on my back, I live in a house with a washer and dryer, I get to occasionally housesit in a mansion in Los Feliz, my car has come back from the dead)

But, as I am wont to do when I think I’m being all lofty and introspective, I ponder the issues that loom in the future (what’s gonna happen after this short term gig is over in another week, maybe I should switch temp agencies in the hopes of landing better jobs, I need to get my act together because I haven’t done any significant writing in at least two weeks, what the hell do I think I’m doing attempting to write a zombie graphic novel when I’ve never written for graphic novels before) I found myself sliding into Ask Speak again.

So I’d start off like this:

I dunno God, it seems pretty silly to try and write a graphic novel, like trying to start a TV writing career when you’re not in your 20s, and where do I start researching in the graphic novel world when I don’t wanna write for an established superhero, is this REALLY what I’m supposed to be doing?

Uh oh. You just asked a question.

…and it makes me wonder if this is what I’m supposed to be doing, writing an epic zombie graphic novel. THAT’S what you want me to do?

DING! Another question.

…I wonder if that’s what you want me to do, and when I say “I wonder” I mean I wonder in the non-question sense of the word. Because, honestly, could you give me a sign…


I mean…MAN, it sure would be nice to have a sign from somewhere, wouldn’t it?


I mean…it would be nice to have a sign if someone who just happened to be listening to me was in the mood to send such signs. And uh, well, no biggie if not. Just chatting here. Just shooting the breeze and all that.

So I’m sure God got a few chuckles out of it.

But seriously, what does it mean to have a conversation with God? Talking to someone who already knows everything you know, everything you’re thinking, and to make matters REALLY sticky, He knows what’s coming next. And yet you should forget that, try very hard not to ask him what’s coming next, and chat like a giddy schoolgirl over Starbucks frappuccinos. Did you SEE that hottie at the barbecue yesterday? Cut off his hair and slap a better shirt on him and MAN would he be good to go!

Then there’s a part of my brain that’s more than happy to trot out James 4, second half of verse 2, “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” so I AM supposed to ask?

And hey, let’s include verse three, before someone with itchy Comment fingers calls me on it, “3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

So I AM allowed to ask, as long as it’s in the context of “Is this what you want me to be doing, because if it isn’t, please send a Mack Truck to knock me off course before I really get too deep and waste too much time on zombies, if in fact I’m supposed to be writing about puppies instead.” (I suppose I could always throw a dog into the zombie idea. Since, by all accounts, zombies don’t give a hoot about a dog. Seriously, being a dog during a zombie attack is golden. Like being a fish during a flood.)

I dare you all to try it. Try talking to God without asking him for anything. It’s really hard.

1 comment:

Allison said...

Yeah, that IS hard.

And here's something else to throw in the mix: "do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." And "Give us this day our daily bread."

But does that mean we're never supposed to think long-term?