Today my church was doing an extra curricular activity where they were gonna spend an extra hour and a half after the service talking about the reasons why we worship the way we do why it’s okay to raise your hands to heaven, how we connect to God through singing and la la laaaaa. I didn’t wanna go, I wanted to go home and write, but as we all know from past experience, it’s the things I don’t wanna do that are usually the things I’m supposed to do, so I went.
They handed out a little brochure thing that listed all the places in the Bible that Scripture says it’s okay to Lift Up Your Hands, Clap, Shout, Play Music And Sing, Dance, Play Instruments. The snotty part of me wanted to point out that the Meditate And Be Silent section automatically negated all the other parts, but yes, I know, it’s not and Either/Or, it’s a Both/And, fine, whatever. I still don’t feel the need to lift up my hands. No, I will never believe that lifting up my hands will connect me to God in a way that’s better than any other way. And God still loves me, just like He loves the ones who do lift up their hands.
At one point during the service, the leader says members of the prayer team are available to pray with you, if you want to. That’s nice. They will pray for you “to be able to experience the presence of God this week in a vital way.” Aw hell. That means I have to go do it now. Shit and damn. I wanna go home and write! It’s cold in here! This place doesn’t have central heat and it’s raining outside! We’re all freezing!
But there’s been something I’ve been wrestling with that I actually would like prayer for. Well, I would like to be held accountable for it, and it seems like perhaps grabbing one of these Prayer Team Peeps and praying with them about it would maybe get the ball rolling on trying to fix it.
I see that Tulip is amongst the Prayer Team Peeps. I like Tulip, even though I get annoyed when she starts talking Platitudes. She knows I get annoyed, and she likes me anyway (She’s the type of person that you would know instantly if she didn’t like you. But she’s also a pastor in the church, so I think that means she’s forced to like everybody. But I bet she secretly doesn’t like some people. But she likes ME. I think. Ho ho ho.)
So I resolve to go down there and grab her to ask her to pray with me. Which I do. I say, “There’s something I have to pray about to be held accountable for, and then I need you to pray for me to experience the presence of God.” She says okay, she grabs my hands and we bow heads. And she prays for me, she thanks God for me, she thanks God that I’m still searching for connection for Him. She prays for a bunch of stuff, and it’s beautiful and I’m positive God’s listening to her.
And then she says, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” And squeezes my hands. Oh. Um, okay. It looks like our prayer time is over. But I didn’t get to pray about what I needed prayer for. I didn’t get to pray publicly with Tulip about it, I didn’t get to be held publicly accountable for it.
Like a chickenshit, I scurry back up the aisle without saying anything else to Tulip other than a quick “Thanks.” Go back there and tell her you have to pray for something with her. NO! I can’t do that! I can’t monopolize Tulip’s time! It took courage just to get me to go down the aisle the first time! Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!
And then it hits me that maybe God wants me to be held publicly accountable here on the blog to the 11 or so readers I still have after my stops and starts and I’m Taking A Hiatus Now. No Wait, I’m Back! Fits.
Oh, gross. I don’t wanna do THAT. Well, you know that means you have to.
Okay, fine. FINE. Fine, fine, fine dee dee FINE.
I have trust issues. TA DA!
You know, the Bible says something to the effect of “don’t put your trust in men, men will let you down.” Lemme go look it up. Ah, here we go,
It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes. Psalm 118:8-9
So there you go, my trust issues are vetted by the Almighty, and He says it’s a-okay not to trust a one of ya! Nyah nyah nyah!
Actually, I think everyone has trust issues, or they damn well should. Have you been living in this world (okay, Los Angeles) at all? People are flakes! They let you down! They say something, promise you this, that, the other, dangle the golden carrot in front of you, you believe them, and then POOF, they’re gone. Personally, professionally, whatever. We’ve all been bounced around like yo yos, and still we square the shoulders and soldier on, thinking we’re gonna be smarter next time.
So it gets to the point where I can’t look a potentially golden opportunity in the face without first thinking of all the ways this opportunity is gonna sock me in the gut for believing it was gonna happen in the first place. It is not one of those situations where my unbelief causes the deal to go south, because I’ve gotten very good in keeping my unbelief to myself, to test the theory that the deal would go south even if I put on a Happy Face.
But if you’re a friend of mine, I guarantee there has been a point somewhere in our friendship where I have puffed up paranoid scenarios about how you’re going to metaphorically sock me in the gut.
The Paranoid Scenario button is one I have never been able to turn off, much as I would like to. It usually goes like this:
I met a great guy! He’s gonna lose interest.
I’m getting my play produced! Nobody’s gonna go see it, and you’re gonna get trashed by reviewers.
Somebody wants to read one of my scripts! They’re gonna hate it, or they’re never gonna call you back.
I’m doing a blood drive! Nobody’s gonna sign up.
Now, in all of the above instances, everything worked out swimmingly, at least for awhile, so you would think I would stop mashing the Paranoid Scenario button based on past experiences.
And yet I can’t. I don’t know why.
All this week I’ve been wrestling with Paranoid Scenarios about how this, that, and the other person is going to fuck me over for this, that, and the other reason. That’s what I was going to pray with Tulip about. (I probably wouldn’t have dropped the f bomb though.) I would’ve thanked God for creating the potentially great scenario, for putting the people in my life that had a hand in creating the potentially great scenario. I would’ve thanked God for blessing me with the gifts He has given me that helped perpetuate the potentially great scenario. I would’ve asked for God would give me the strength to wrench my thoughts from turning the potentially great scenario into a Paranoid Scenario. I would’ve asked God to help me deliberately focus my thoughts on the positive aspects of this scenario, of these people, of my gifts. I would said a lot more P words, like prayer, praise, pshaw, etc.
So instead, I ask God here, in front of you all. Give me strength to be positive, give me strength to be positive, give me strength to be positive, give me strength, strength, strength. Amen.