On Sunday, a friend asked how I was doing spiritually. I replied that God is teaching me to trust, and that I continue to be my usual stubborn and anxious self. I’ve felt a bundle of anxiety this weekend, all raw nerves and panic buttons, not enough air to breathe.
God invites me to rest, to rely on God, cling and cleave to God. That’s what true belief is, not just a head knowledge, but an on-going reliance, an “I can’t do this without you.”
Do I really believe God is greater?
Someone at church shared a saying: “Don’t tell God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big your God is.” Same situation, different focus.
And God continues to teach me trust.
Let me rephrase that.
God continues to need to teach me trust.
Maybe I’m a slow learner. Or maybe life has eroded my trust in others, and even in myself, so far that God has a long way to bring me back.
How easily little children delight in the world. How freely birds soar. They are living, breathing in oneness with God. Living just as God made them to be. Natural traits, talents, and spunk in full colour, freely giving glory to the God who made them.
How far from what I feel.
I’ve come a long way in living true to the way God made me, to no longer try to contort myself to fit in, or mask myself until my own self is stiff. But my Internal Censor, Inner Critic, still holds more sway than the Holy Spirit most days. A part of myself that I don’t even like most of the time, that tears me down rather than builds me up, has more say than the One Who Made Me?
My heart cries out,
Oh Beloved, that you might be cradled so gently in the wings of God.
I will not waste time on this with disgust. That will not help. But a gentle loving-kindness can help to change this. Being gentle with myself will take me further forward than a critical tearing off of shreds ever could. But oh, how long it has taken me to learn that, that ripping myself to shreds will only push me backwards, tear me down, push me away from my God.
All things from the right perspective can draw you towards God. Same situation, different focus.
So how can I practice listening to the Voice of the Spirit more than the voice of my inner critic?
Author of The Artist’s Way: A spiritual path to higher creativity, Julia Cameron, recommends writing every morning, with the idea of just writing anything for three pages. You learn to write just for writing’s sake, not to write perfectly. You are not crafting fine work for assessment or publication, but just to write and let whatever is top-most in your mind pour out. And because it is not for any purpose, and you are seeking quantity over quality, you are, if only for these three pages, tuning out your internal censor, ignoring your inner critic. I have been doing this, not for very long, but it has been good. I have struggled to write for too long.
I asked God the other day why I don’t receive big, clear answers to my questions of God. A friend had recently asked us to pray, but wouldn’t specify what it was about, asking just to hear what God showed us. And it was big and clear and beautiful. Challenging, but only because it was so powerful there was no wiggle room to dodge around it.
So I asked God why God didn’t do the same for me. “Why don’t you give me such clear signs?”
And God answered me.
But not with a big, clear sign. Not with a voice of thunder that rattled my windowpanes.
God answered me with a still, small voice. Repeated, sure, but quietly. A gentle nudge here, a whisper there. And God told me that I don’t need the big, powerful sign right now because God has taught me to listen and act on the still, small voice. It used to be that my husband and I would laugh about God needing to use felt-coated bricks to get our attention, sometimes even felt-coated fridges, sometimes without the felt. Now I don’t act every time, but I sure do hear, though I’m sure there are plenty of nuances I’m missing, and I’m slowly learning to trust that Voice over the other voices in my life.
But sometimes the other voices drown it out. The anxiety winds up to a shriek, the doom of depression thunders, and they get me whirling. I don’t stop myself in order to hear the small steady voice of the Spirit, but panic and scream, stomp my feet in a tantrum, because I can’t hear. “Why aren’t You speaking, God?” I rail.
When all I need to do is stop.
Sometimes I wonder when I will finally learn this, when I’ll finally get it. But I have, and the whirling chaos gets shorter each time, as I am slowly learning to make my mind’s home in God, to dwell there instead of my own so-very-limited strength.
Our Almighty God has the strength to hold the universe together, with the delicate finesse to place every speck of space-dust where it goes at just the right time, the gentleness to hold a hurting heart. If God knows every speck and moment of this universe’s existence, surely I can trust God to order my steps? To lend me the strength to grow where and how God has asked me to?
Trusting God is the leaning on an Unshakeable Rock, but one who is as soft as downy feathers.
It’s not that my idea of God needs to get bigger, it’s just that I need to choose to lean.