There’s a scene in my book where I’m praying with my spiritual director, Debby. She asks me to sit quietly with God, and eventually, after minutes of silence, instructs me to ask God for one word. One word.
That day, I sat on her floral loveseat begging my brain and my soul to stop fighting it out for one second so I could listen. But it felt impossible to stop my mind from shouting doubt at the part of me that wants to believe. I would pray, “God, please give me one word from you.” And my brain would respond, “If you think God gives you a word, it’ll probably just be you deluding yourself.”
Faith Micha: “Nope, God. I believe you can give me one word.”
Doubt Micha: “Will I just make something up and tell myself it’s from God?”
This is how prayer goes for me a lot of the time. It’s a wrestle for faith. It’s always hard-won.
That day, after minutes of this, with my eyes closed and my hands wringing on the couch in front of Debby, I finally calmed both voices down: both the desperate one and the doubting one. I finally was still inside. And when I was, I watched a word rise from the bottom of a dark pit, its letters growing more and more visible as it came to the light.
Believe. It said.
When I finally opened my eyes and shared that word with my spiritual director, she said, “Believe. What an invitation.”
I hold that story as a touchstone of sorts in my spiritual life. It was the moment when I realized that I may not be healed of my doubting mind. It may always travel with me through my life. But still, the invitation will come. Still, I will always be offered a choice. Will I believe today? Will I believe in Jesus? Will I believe in hope? Will I believe in wholeness and healing and love?
My favorite hymns from my childhood are the “Invitation” hymns. The ones we sang when the pastor invited all the lost souls to come home to Jesus.
All to Jesus, I surrender, we sang. Oh Lamb of God, I come, I come.
I’ve been thinking that God is always inviting me into the life I’ve been created to live. And invitations are meant to be gifts. We are offered the chance to respond, to believe, to receive.
I come, I come…
We moved to a new house last week and I can’t seem to shake off the guilt I feel, for being somewhere easier, bigger. I want to be grateful but I can’t simultaneously feel guilt and gratefulness at the same time, can I? Moment by moment, I can feel only one or the other.
I want to choose gratitude. I want to choose to make this new home a place where doors are open and people are cared for. I don’t want to live like I’ve selfishly chosen more space for the sake of my own luxury. I want to offer that space to the people I love.
My one word for 2014 is Invitation. Every Tuesday for the next few months, I’ll be thinking about that word and what it might look like to live with welcome in my relationship with God and others.
I hope you’ll join me…
Photo Credit: The Wandering Angel on Flickr