Saturday, September 24, 2005

Still haven't found what I'm looking for

Something felt incomplete about my last post. It felt like those times where I have to write 2 or 3 pages of nothing before I can come to one true sentence. And I throw the rest out & start anew with that one sentence. However, in my previous post, I stopped before I got to that one sentence. The truth is, the truth I've been scared to admit, is that I was disappointed with the U2 concert. How could I have been disappointed? It was U2 live! My all-time favorite band! I paid big money & traveled several hours just to hear & see them sing afar for two and a half hours. Did I meet them? No. Do they know I exist? No. Does that matter? No.

So, yes, I was disappointed. I suppose I set myself up for it. I went into it searching for the spiritual experience I had at the U2 concert in Seattle. I had expectations of meeting up with God & dancing with Him in the aisles. But that was 4 years ago. A lot has happened in the last four years – in my life, in the lives of U2, in our world. 9/11 happened 5 months after the Seattle concert & the world hasn't been the same since. But God is the same right?

So I went to the Chicago concert longing for God & left disappointed because He didn't show up, at least not as I expected Him too. But looking back, I can say with confidence that He was there. I'm not sure where He was, that wasn't so obvious to me as it was in Seattle, but after the concert, as we were walking back to our hotel and drunk kids were stumbling and staggering in front of us, & we were praying we wouldn't have to see one of them walk into the street & get hit by a bus, I knew He was among us, among all of us, especially those who couldn't walk a straight line. So we walked back to our hotel, fell into bed & I can't remember when I've slept deeper. It's been a long time coming. And now, life is back to normal back home... it's 1 a.m. & I'm still “wide awake”...

U2 are spiritual figures for me. Bono is all about peace and unity & meeting the needs of the poor & sick. He's a voice for the hopeless when they have no voice. He's no Mother Theresa but who knows, maybe he would have been one of Jesus' disciples if he'd been alive when Jesus was. God has given him a gift & he's faithful to his call. Who knows, maybe he's a modern day prophet? Prophets were human weren't they – sinners like the rest of us? I don't have Bono on a pedestal; I just admire him greatly for his work, his faith & his spiritual journey. I admire that in all the band members. And, I know, the truth is, I don't really know any of them. But what I do know, I have great respect for.

So the real truth, one of those nugget sentences I never reached in my previous post, is that I'm longing for God. I went searching for him in Chicago & found Him after all. The experience made me long for God & yearn for Him to show up. It has made me take a look at my own life & work, and pray that God will make me faithful to the unique calling He has for me. So I'm grateful. Grateful to have longing for God. Grateful for the concert to have intensified that for me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Sharing a room with U2

... at the United Center Arena in Chicago, that is... Husband and I went with our friends Mike & Kelly last night. It was a sweet show! The first time I saw them was in Seattle during their last tour & that was definitely more of a life-changing experience than last night's concert (maybe b/c it was my first time) but, I'd say last night's concert was better. It wasn't as worshipful as it was in Seattle, it was definitely more political so it was a bit disappointing in that way but the songs they chose to play and Bono's singing was far better last night. The show was pretty laid back & slower-paced, even though they certainly rocked the crowd with their oldies but goodies. But they sang some more mellow songs too.
I couldn't believe when he started singing my absolute favorite song, "For the first time". Evidently, this was the first time (no pun intended) that they've played the song live in the US. What a treat! Husband and I actually played it during our communion at our wedding. Part of the lyrics go...

My father is a rich man
He wears a rich man's cloak
Gave me the keys to his kingdom coming
Gave me a cup of gold

He said I have many mansions
And there are many rooms to see
But I left by the back door
And I threw away the key

For the first time

I feel love

It's an awesome song. Anyway, last night Bono switched up the words a bit and sang that this time, he didn't throw away the key. Was pretty cool... like ten years later he can say that now... like we're getting a glimpse of his spiritual journey.

Bono also sang a song, Miss Sarajevo, from their Passengers CD. Pavarotti actually sings the chorus in Italian on the album but Bono sang it last night and nailed it! I was actually surprised how good Bono's voice was last night. He actually sounded better live than he does on their last album. After 20 years of singing, his voice has only gotten better. Definitely a gift from God.

Well, what can I say, it was an awesome time! I'm thankful we were able to go.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Dependent Personality Disorder

I resist complete dependence on God. Is He trustworthy? Does He have my best interests at heart? He's wild & untamed but is He good? Husband and I have been talking about what it would mean to live our life in such a way that we're more dependent on God. If we believe God has called us to be counselors, then should we pursue this wholeheartedly, forsaking everything else? Should Husband quit the coffee shop (our only real source of income, apart from a few clients here & there) & go full time with me into building our practice? Would God then show up & provide for us? And yet we're supposed to be responsible as well... we need to pay our bills, we need health insurance, etc. etc. etc. This is where we get stuck. How do we be "responsibly dependent"?

We don't risk enough in our lives, in our careers, in our relationships. We don't put ourselves in circumstances where we will not be able to go on without God. We're not on our knees because we've built our life so that we don't need to be. And that scares me. I don't want to have to lose everything (or anything for that matter) for me to "need" God.

We need wisdom in this area. Any thoughts?


We're reading this book about prayer for our church called Fresh Wind Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Last night we met with our small group to talk about the first few chapters. It seems I'm not the only one who struggles with prayer and that was a comfort to hear. Issues of trust, desire, guilt keep us from having the kind of prayer life we want to have. One of the group members asked what our definition of prayer was and in my head, my first response was, I define prayer as talking to God. But then as other people responded to their definitions of prayer, I thought, no, I want my definition to be a conversation with God. I want to listen more to him speak into my life and my heart. I long to hear from him. I've realized that I tend to avoid it for 2 reasons: 1) b/c of the pain of only experiencing silence & emptiness when I do try to listen, and 2) I fear the intimacy of Him actually talking to me. Will I hold on to my desire for that kind of relationship with God more than my fears of it? At least for today?

I'm also reading this other book called Leaving the Saints. It's about a woman who was sexually abused in the Mormon church and her journey to leave the Mormons in order to rediscover her faith in God. She wrote about prayer and how she was learning how much it's more about listening rather than demanding. In a beautiful section she writes about what she feels that God was saying to her during a particularly difficult time... she writes that God was telling her, "I am here. Always. I am always right here... The one place you can find me is the one place you have been afraid to go: your own heart. It will not be easy for you to go there. I will be here. Always. I will always be right here."

Reading that was comforting to me.

When there are discussions of prayer, the word "discipline" usually comes up. I cringe at the word, discipline. It keeps me away from prayer because it sounds like something you have to do rather than want to do. And wouldn't I want someone to talk to me and spend time with me b/c they want to rather than because they have to for one reason or another? I wonder if God feels that way too. He wants us to come to him because we want to, not because we're told we have to pray every morning for this amount of time, or we have to pray each time before we eat & if we don't God's going to choke us with the food we eat. Do I really believe God wants me to fear him more than desire him?

Another group member brought up the idea that Jesus must have longed to talk to God while he was on earth; it wasn't about him being disciplined to pray but being connected to his Father. Can you imagine the conversations they must have had... Dad, you won't believe what happened today... God, I was so angry when this happened... Father, this is too hard, please help me...

I so long to have that kind of relationship with God... like how excited I am to tell my husband the details of my day, like when I miss him when we're apart for too long. Why don't I have that with God? I guess I can't have that when I'm avoiding my own heart.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Running with God

I've been running on the beach in the evenings this last week. It's such an amazing experience. Sometimes I'll lace up just on time to run into the sunset. Other times the moon is bright above, lighting my path along the shore. My favorite beach time is at night. It's so peaceful & quiet. I feel God at the beach. Not just know he's with me but actually feel his presence. That's such a rare blessing for me. I want to linger with him after my runs; sit with him on the sand; watch the waves roll in; take off my sandy shoes and socks to feel the cool water on my tired & sore feet. His presence is so strong with me those times - it's such a comfort, such a rare & raw experience.

Apart from God, I also have a new running buddy, something I've been praying for for some time now. And not just a running buddy but she's become a good friend as well. It's so good for my heart and my soul. I feel very grateful tonight.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Labor Day Weekend

We just returned from spending Labor Day Weekend with some friends in Chicago. We were blessed with beautiful weather, good food, rest, fun, and a closeness to God that is rare & rich when it happens. I experienced this through staring into the face and holding in my arms their adorable 3-month old baby girl.

On the way home, we drove thru Wheaton, Ill - one of my old haunts. I lived there for several months with my oldest brother and his family when I was 19 years old. It's been 10 years since I've been back & driving through, I felt a mix of longing and sadness and joy. Probably in reminescence of what I felt while I was living there. Living there was a haven for me, as if the losses and demands and pain of life could be put on hold for a time. At the time, my brother & his wife only had their first daughter & she was just a year old. What a delight, a soothing for my heart & soul she was, to hold her and hug her and play with her and watch over her as she slept. We bonded... a strong bond that continues between us today as she enters into middle school.
But it also was a sad time in my life. Back in Maryland, where I decided to get away from for awhile, my relationship with my first boyfriend was painfully slipping away from me & no matter how much I tried to grasp it or grip onto it, I was losing hold. The loss of that relationship was a defining time in my life. And today, ten years later, driving through Wheaton, I realized, there's still parts of my heart that need to let go and say goodbye. There's still grief there for me to enter into.

I know this is true regarding my dad as well. He died over 3 years ago and I haven't said goodbye. I haven't let him go. There is no set timetable for grief. You ride its waves; waves that wash over you; waves you hope won't hold you under and drown you.
Driving through Wheaton, I felt the desire to dive deeper & swim further than I have these last 10 years.