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“Have you prayed about it?” my friend asked me, brown eyes pouring into my soul like death by molasses. I began to nod, paused for a millisecond, and then resumed my bobbing.
“Yeah, but I’m pretty sure this is what I should do,” I answered, not realizing that I was continuing to nod and had not stopped.
“Pretty sure? But what did you feel God telling you?”
My head was starting to hurt from the world floating up and down before my eyes. And all I said was, “Yeah, pretty sure.”
To this day, I feel like someone pricks me at the bottom of my big toe when I hear the words “Pray about it” in response to grand decisions I need to make about my life. It’s almost as if I get lazy at times to just pray and listen for God’s voice to instruct and lead me, and would rather have Him tell others to intercede and act as my messenger. On the other hand, it can come off as just a cop-out Christianese answer, and there are definitely people who have used this to get out of a situation.
Should I go to law school? Pray about it.
Should I quit my job? Pray about it.
Should I take this job? Pray about it.
Should I dump this guy? Pray about it.
Should I go to grad school? Pray about it.
Should I really consume this fat carne asada burrito at 4AM? Eat it.
I have ‘should’ so much over myself over the years that I often compare myself to a gigantic, walking question mark. Nothing is stable and committed, and friends even would joke that big decisions I made would transform into something different anyway, so for no one to hold their breath. I really did try though, and I really did try to pray about it. But what ended up happening was that I would quip up a few words asking God to reveal and to clarify, and all of a sudden, my prayer would turn into a report of what I was leaning towards and what felt right to me. It gradually became enough to simply tell God what my plans were, rather than sharing with Him all my doubts, fears, questions, and possibilities, then trusting that He knows it all and He has me. Waiting is embedded into the beauty of prayer, as is prayer within waiting. You cannot simply do one without the other.
It was exciting for a while, I have to admit that. Feeling that thrill about an opportunity rise within my throat like vomit, then acting on that on my own will and going off to my new adventure. I have had some really amazing experiences, and I’ve had some really horrible ones. But after so much of my life was invested into spontaneity and abandonment, nothing was rooted in my heart and as a drifter, I felt lonely frequently and felt unfulfilled in a frightening way. I would find myself in the wake of a concluded journey, wondering “What now?” and trying to figure out why I couldn’t even feel at home in the place where I lived.
I reflected the girl who cried wolf, the wolf being the looming NEXT BIG THING. I became guilty to share anything new with my dearest friends with the fear that they may roll their eyes and perhaps react the same way I did at times to my life, which is “Seriously?” And then a massive lie gripped me into submission, which was that nothing was permanent and lasting, and that just like the story of my life, nothing could possibly be forever and joyful.
I felt more alone than ever.
And as if by some cruel schedule, the vomit came up again. But this time it was very different, involving something significant that I later realized had been a longing deep within me for almost ten years.