I’ll be honest- I haven’t had the best semester. It’s my last few months of college and I was expecting the absolute best from the get-go. Instead I was met with friend problems, boy problems, personal problems, school problems, even car problems… every kind of problem you could imagine. I’ve felt all semester like life has been knocking me down, letting me get back up for a second and then knocking me down again, and it’s been really discouraging.
Through this challenging semester, I’ve gotten a little out of touch with my faith. It’s been pushed to the backburner as I’m trying to deal with all the other things that seem so immediate- I have to figure out where to go for grad school! and I have to work to pay rent and buy groceries! and I have to spend time with my friends before we all graduate! and I have to remember that I’m still in school and have homework to do and tests to study for! I have been feeling really anxious, overwhelmed and unfulfilled.
And a couple weeks ago I came to a kind of sudden realization that I don’t know the last really good, honest conversation with God I’ve had. There’s been prayers for others when I know they need it, quick SOS prayers before big tests, bedtime prayers begging for the melatonin to kick in extra quick that night, but not the kind of prayers that really open your heart and pull you closer to God.
I was driving when I thought of this (pretty safe bet it was to or from Starbucks if you want to set the scene in your head), and I just started yelling at God. I don’t even remember if it was in my mind or out loud, but I told Him I was MAD. I was mad that He was letting all these really hard things happen to me one right after the other (I’m sure I used a slightly stronger word than “hard” if you want to continue to set the scene). I was mad that I couldn’t see Him or feel Him through any of it even though I’d been asking for His presence. I was mad that my last semester of college was shaping up to be my worst. I was just angry and bitter and I let Him HAVE IT.
And then I sat in silence for a minute and I thought oh my goodness I am probably so not supposed to speak in that tone to our Lord and Savior… but as I thought about it more, I realized I think it’s really okay. Because God knew I was mad. I was mad at Him and at myself and over time I had let a lot of anger build up in my heart. He saw that. You can’t really hide anything from Him. So if I would’ve recited a nice, polite prayer about how thankful I am even through the hard times, I think He would’ve known that didn’t really come from my heart.
I think we censor our prayers a lot. I’m not sure why. Maybe we think God can’t handle it if we say a few cuss words when we’re talking to Him. Maybe we think if we pretend like everything’s okay, so will He. And in reality, He knows the deepest innerworkings of our hearts and minds. He knows when we want to scream and cry but instead we’re halfheartedly asking Him to be with us through our trials. We can’t fool Him! We can only try to fool ourselves and that never works out in the end.
So over the past month or so, I’ve been yelling at God sometimes. And the craziest thing happened. He yelled back at me! I told him I was ANGRY and FRUSTRATED and DISAPPOINTED and He told me HEY dummy, why don’t you seek me a little more? Because I told you if you did that then you’d find me, RIGHT? HMMM. (My paraphrase.) I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a clearer message from Him.
And so I don’t think every single one of our prayers has to be loud and passionate and dramatic, but I think they all need to be honest. I think if we want to hear from God, He has to see that our thoughts and requests are genuinely coming from the heart. If your heart is bitter, don’t act like it’s joyful. Be real in how you feel and ask for help in getting where you need to be. If you need to yell or cry, I don’t think God wants you to hold back. If you’re saying ugly words in your mind you might as well speak them, because He sees them either way and can only rectify those thoughts if you open them to Him.
Maybe you, like me, have been feeling a little far from God lately. Or maybe you’ve been spending a lot of great quality time with Him and are happy with where you’re at. Either way, I would challenge you, as I’m challenging myself, to never be anything but completely, 100% honest with God. About the good, the bad and the downright ugly. He not only can handle it, but He wants that from us. He wants to celebrate with us in the good times and trudge throught the mud with us in the hard times. He knows very well that we are imperfect, sinful beings and He loves us in spite of anything hurtful we could ever say or do.
The best relationships aren’t formed by putting up a front and acting like everything’s okay when it’s not. They always get a little messy. They always involve hard honesty and difficult truths. Sometimes even a little yelling. And it is so freeing once the anger and the bitterness and the negativity are released, because then there is room for love and joy and peace to flood in and take their place.