Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Can I Get An "Amen!"...Oh, And By The Way--This Was Not My Most Favorite Weekend In Church
"THAT'S WHY WE PRAY (YEAH), OH YEAH WE PRAY (YEAH), WE GOT TO PRAY JUST TO MAKE IT TODAY!!!!!
Warning!!!: God blog alert. Click the X if you're wimp. Buckle up your Jesus seatbelt if you can hang.
Our topic at church for the past two weeks has been prayer. The first week I was like, "SWEET! That's my favorite part of my relationship with God!!!", and the sermon delivered--and it was stellar. The second week was a little different. I walked out of the sermon like, "What just happened in there?".
I know that my blog wouldn't be my blog if I didn't go off on tangents. It's right in the warning label that is under the title/name of my blog. All bets are off when you come on here because IT'S MY BLOG AND I WILL BLOG IF I WANT TO, BLOG IF I WANT TO--YOU WOULD BLOG TOO IF IT HAPPENED TO YOU...
Enough singing. That was my vocal segment (you liked it--I saw your head bobbing).
Most of you know that I'm not very bible literate. I'm like a Christian redneck--I love God, but am not super smart with all things God--including the bible. Sometimes they flash these bible verses up on the screen and I'm like, "Holy frickin' cow--that is amazing." And sometimes they flash stuff up there and I'm like, "Are you freakin' kidding me?--who says that?". True. I'm sure I'm going to have some sort of penalty to pay in Heaven for my critique of the bible at times, but there are some things I just can't wrap my head around--nor would I want to (sorry God--this is the part where you can chuck a lightning bolt at me). *ZAP*
Anyway--our topic was prayer. I am huge on prayer. I pray to God all the time. I probably pray so much that he's like, "OMW (that's for Oh My Whitney), Can you please shut up and let someone else have a flipping turn?". I pray so much that I've even prayed to ask for forgiveness for praying too much. I know it seems completely ridiculous, but it's totally true. I pray about EVERYTHING. I pray on my knees at night for my family, goals, dreams, ambitions, and how I can be of service to Him. I pray in the parking lot of work every night to have His spirit shine through me, stir curiosity in others about Him, and to be in the service of those I take care of. I pray to be competent with my medication administration. I pray sometimes and then realize another car has pulled up next to me in the parking lot at the hospital so I fake that I'm sleeping--not proud of it, but totally true. I'm a fake sleeper/prayer sometimes.
My time spent talking to God is super important to me. As a matter of fact, had it not been for prayer, I would have zero relationship with God. The very first thing I ever did after going through a serious "god-hater" phase in my life was pray to God, ask for forgiveness, and ask for guidance in my life that would lead me closer to Him. This was before I ever entered a church, picked up a bible, or tried to pretend to actually be a good person. True story.
The great news is that GOD DELIVERED exactly what I needed--which was Himself, available to me, in a totally obtainable form--PRAYER. All of the sudden I stopped feeling like I was throwing random thoughts out to the universe, and that there was someone on the other end of my virtual phone call who was actually RESPONDING.
I admit that it was a little weird at first. When you realize that there is a God all of the sudden you're like, "HOLY CRAP!--he's seen EVERYTHING I'VE DONE!!!--the good...the bad..the ugly!!!!! AAAaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!" **Insert Blair Witch Project Puke-Worthy Cinematography Scene Of Girl Running Through The Woods Trying To Hide From Danger (AKA--the wrath of God)**
So I started praying. A lot. Not because God gave me everything I needed, wanted, or prayed for, but because I finally developed a relationship with Him. The more I talked to Him, the more precious that relationship became. The more I realized I could ALWAYS depend on Him. It didn't matter what I was going through in this life, I knew that He had my back, and that I could call upon Him for whatever I needed, and that He would RESPOND to me. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, for ugly, for pretty, for whatever....HE WAS ALWAYS GOING TO BE THERE AS LONG AS I INVITED HIM INTO MY LIFE.
So back to me praying. I pray for a lot. I know some of you probably think my prayers look like, "Dear Lord, please provide me with a cute, rich, Hawaiian surfing legend who has beachfront property, a Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville blender, and stock in Tiffany & Co, Rip Curl, Chanel, BMW, and is the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles...AMEN." But my prayers don't (always) really look like that. I don't really feel like I have a "credit card relationship" with God--where if I want something I just swipe my card from the Bank of God and it just miraculously appears. My relationship with God means a lot to me, and I know that whenever I am in need, and whenever I am willing to humble myself before him and ask for him to guide me--HE WILL. It is 100%, guaranteed, proven in my life.
"Well I'm sorry, Whitney, I need some proof." I'm so glad you asked, Ye Of Little Faith (ok--maybe you have faith and I'm just being a snothead...but I'll give you my proof anyhow).
I had really gone through some hard times back when I was first married. There were a lot of very serious struggles with my family--struggles that dang near submarined me emotionally. I had been married in 2000. During that first year of my marriage we decided to try to have a child. I was so emotionally bankrupt at that time in my life that I had nothing but my faith in God, and my husband. We prayed, diligently, before having kids. However, I didn't just want to have a kid--I was in, "Go big or go home" mode. I wanted twins. Problem? 1 in 100 pregnancies results in spontaneous twins. And twins don't run in my family. I prayed, and prayed, and prayed for twins. My husband thought I was crazy. He had never had one baby--let alone two. But I prayed DAY AND NIGHT. When I finally did get pregnant we went in for my ultrasound. The doctor said, "If you'll look here, you can see the head, and the body, and here is the heartbeat. And if you'll look over here, you'll see the other one." My eyes lit up--and my husband almost fell out of his chair.
Still not buying it?...
I was very sick in 2008. I was the sickest I'd ever been in my life, I was going through a divorce. I was scared, tired, worried, frustrated, pissed off--you name it. Some of you are probably like, "Well if God was your BFF when you were trying to get prego with the twins, why did you end up getting sick AND divorced in the same year?". Not sure. I prayed a lot about that one, too, and sometimes even got pretty pissed off at God in the interim. I know I'm steering away from the topic of me being sick for a moment, but I truly believe that my divorce was a blessing. I don't care what the church says about it, I don't care what anyone says about it--I was in a relationship that started out very strong with a God-based foundation, and that relationship became very one-sided with respect to God--and it drug me down with it, and it wasn't where I needed to be--AND today, both me and my ex-husband are in a far better place. Anyway--back to me being sick (YAY! exciting!).
I was basically on what felt like my death bed in 2008/2009. I was so sick from blood loss one night that I had to teach the twins how to call 911 if I didn't wake up after passing out. I was grey in color. I looked like a zombie. Then I passed out on one of their beds and scared them to death--luckily they didn't call 911, and I woke up. However, it was at that point with my illness that I got down on my knees and prayed very hard. I had been going through IV infusion therapy with an immunosuppressant drug that was commonly used, but that was also known to cause cancer as a side-effect. It would be for the rest of my life that I'd have to have these infusions. Three hour sessions every few weeks for this therapy. Do you know how hard it was to sit in a chair, have someone start an IV on me, and know that the crap they were pumping into me "might/could" cause CANCER?
I was over it. I had been to numerous doctors and nobody would listen to me. So I did what anyone SHOULD do in that situation--I went to God. I actually prayed a prayer that may seem super abnormal to some of you. See, I had told those doctors that I just wanted to have that part of my body removed that was making me so sick--because it would cure my disease. It was a non-vital organ, and I was trashing all of my vital organs with medicine to fix the dang thing. They told me that I was "overreacting". They told me that I was acting "emotionally"--that my "frustration was clouding my judgement". So I prayed. I prayed to God that I would get sicker. Some people might be like, "Come again say what?". I did. I prayed to God that if I was supposed to have that body part removed that I would get sicker than I already was so that maybe somehow my doctors would finally listen to me.
I did get sicker. Much, much sicker. I called to make an appointment to see one of my doctors, but none of them were available. They did, however, have an appointment with another doc who I had never met. I took it. When he came into the office, I told him what I wanted--to have surgery that would cure my illness. He didn't say anything to me other than, "You know what you want, and what you need. I'll get the number of a top-notch surgeon for you." That was it. I had my surgery scheduled within two weeks. It was unbelievable. It was a prayer that had been answered in a HUGE WAY.
Not only did he provide the right doctor/surgeon for me at that time, but at that time I was also a new nurse--right out of nursing school. I had just gotten a job on the cardiac/telemetry unit, and my boss had a son with the same disease, and he had had the same surgery to remove the problemtatic organ. He met with me for lunch to tell me about all of the details. He cried with me on the phone out of frustration--knowing the emotional toll the disease can take on you. He showed me his scars. He even tried to book a trip here to Colorado to see me after my surgery but ended up getting sick with the flu. Don't try to tell me that God doesn't know what He is doing. He specifically placed me in these situations, WITH THESE PEOPLE, at this time of my life to help me through this. It was AMAZING.
"So why is it that you are so into prayer, Whitney, but that your last Sunday at church was not your favorite EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE SUBJECT WITH RESPECT TO GOD????" Because it wasn't just about prayer. It was about perfecting yourself to a point where you are worthy to pray to God, and worthy to receive His blessings. That was where I fell off the boat.
Our job as Christians is to "create followers" of Christ. TO BRING PEOPLE TO CHRIST. I don't know if I am crazy by saying this, or if I'll be shunned by people at my church who may read this, but if I am someone who is "seeking" a relationship with God and Jesus Christ, and that relationship or interest is new/fragile/malnourished, and you tell me that I have to be PERFECT before I can pray to expect anything in return...then I'm going to turn away and go somewhere that is far less complicated. That was what I took from the message at church this weekend. I love my pastor dearly, and I usually reap an amazing amount of great stuff from the sermons, but not this week.
I always try to picture what it looks like to be a "new believer". Or a "curious soul". Someone who turns to church for answers as a "last resort", or as a "new idea". Someone who shows up to our church and is hearing a sermon for the first time in forever. How would they feel? Like I said a few paragraphs up--I am a Christian redneck when it comes to quoting bible verses--slow in the head. I wrote down all the bible verses that were thrown up on the screen last weekend--telling about how one needs to perfect yourself in order to be heard by God in prayer." If you'll excuse me...I must say that God would never hear a single dang prayer from my heart or my mouth if that were the case. There is no perfection here, and there never will be. However, I do know that MY GOD is there, and does listen to my prayers--through all of my imperfections...through all of my selfish wants and desires. I may not get the response I was looking for every time my prayer is answered, but one thing I do know is that if I have to be perfect in this life to pray, and expect that God will answer my prayer--I should not waste my time. It's never going to happen. I don't care what the bible says. You can be the most perfect person ever and you still might not get what you pray for. Ever hear of Job?
To make matters a little bit worse there was another scripture thrown up on the screen this Sunday. I'm paraphrasing here, and I'm not going to quote it, but it was something along the lines of, " Husbands, be good to your wives, for they are weaker than you." Um...scuze me? Maybe it's because I'm a labor and delivery nurse, but HUSBANDS...FYI your wives are not weak in any way, shape, or form. This bible verse ranks right up there with my other faves about how women were an afterthought to God and created from a man's rib, and how women should be submissive to their husbands. I remember being up in Palmer, Alaska at church with the Cute Alaskan Man one Sunday and hearing their pastor bring up the "Women, be submissive to your husbands" passage. After church, Tristan asked me where I wanted to have lunch, to which I replied, "Well I just don't know!? Where do you think I should have lunch?". Sometimes the neanderthal crap really rubs me the wrong way. **insert lightning bolt**
So back to the, "Husbands, be good to your wives for they are weaker than you..." for a moment. Have you ever tried to pass a kid out of your hoo ha (or picture trying to squeeze it through your trouser snake)? Do you realize that it has been scientifically proven that the human pain threshold is exceeded by nearly 300X during the labor/delivery process of a child? I have women come in to the hospital who are delivering precipitously (very fast) and have no time for the comfort of IV drugs, or an epidural. There have been moments when I look at them as they are delivering, and they look like they are actually going to die--which incidentally used to happen a lot back in the day. As someone who made it to 9 cm with twins and passed two 7+ pound babies out down south in 4 minutes, with no epidural "pain relief", I can say that you men are totally full of crap. Tell each other what you will, or write it in a bible, but you would die during childbirth.
I hate working on the cardiac floor at the hospital. Do you know why? I hate dealing with sick men. They are a giant pain in my white, Norwegian booty. They are the biggest MOANER, GRIPER, BABIES when it comes to being sick. I'm not a total women's lib person. I'm a fence-sitter in politics. I am a political bi-sexual--I could go either way on any given election year. What I won't do is sit around and listen to garbage about women being WEAK. If I was a pastor these days, I would guard any of those "weak women" passages and tuck them away somewhere deep. You want to drive a chick outta church, tell her how awesome men are and how much she sucks. Nuff said.
Ok...enough on my Chick v. Dude biblical dislike. The point of this blog is to point out something that I have found very true over time. I can honestly say that I have never been perfect. I have never tried so hard to please God that I finally felt worthy of His blessings. What I will say is that there is a very simple, very easy open line of communication to reach your Heavenly Father should you choose to take that step...and that step is through prayer. I don't care if you are a doubter. I don't care if you are an atheist, or an non-believer. If you take a chance, and throw a prayer up to God, it will be heard...AND IT WILL BE ANSWERED. The very first prayer I ever threw up was a total long shot--and it was answered immediately (an NO...it wasn't the, Dear God, Please give me money for those stilettos" prayer).
Ask and you shall receive. It may not always look like what you expected on the receiving end, and you have to have faith that there is a plan for you, and that your prayers may be answered differently than you anticipated, or wanted. However, there is a very REAL God who is fielding those prayers, and He will provide you with His will for you. Don't leave it up to "fate". Give it up to God.