Monday, July 30, 2012

A Confidently Confused Letter (to God)

I said that only names will be edited and so that’s how it will be, but I have to say that I am embarrassed with this letter. In this letter, I asked for God’s help in understanding everything and yet I wrote that I knew I was right. Obviously, I wasn’t looking too hard for God’s answer. And that was the problem with this whole situation with my friend Ashley; she believed she was right and I believed I was right and we did not listen to anyone else. This was the issue, not cussing. Cussing was only a sign, a symptom, of the true problem. If only I had seen that then and not now, a year and a half later.

April 21, 2011

Hey. Me again. Now it is 2:00. I’m in social studies. I just talked to Zelda and Hope about Ashley (obviously You already know this, but I’m going to tell You anyway). Hope said that Ashley seemed different in a good way. That would obviously be You working in her heart, because I know I didn’t say anything that would really cause her to think twice. Please work in her heart more. Help her to realize You fully. Help her to realize that she doesn’t have to do anything to be loved by You. (Also helping her realize that we will be there for her would be nice too.) Zelda has obviously talked to her, because she was defending her! Why? She said that Ashley just wants to be able to do whatever. Is that really what she wants? That’s pretty much saying she doesn’t want to be a Catholic anymore, isn’t it? Because she doesn’t want to live for You. Zelda was mad at me. Why? She said that if I don’t want to hear the cussing I should stop hanging out with Ashley, and that this is why she wants to leave the group. Why is Zelda blaming me for Ashley not wanting to be friends with us? And why does she care? She and Ashley seem to be really good friends, just because they are both Catholics and share more of the same values. Why is Zelda sticking up for Ashley? Doesn’t she know that cussing is bad? I thought she didn’t want to hear it either. What’s up? I don’t understand. Please be with all of us.  I don’t know what to do or say. I know I’m right, because I know that the Bible says not to cuss. Why don’t Zelda and Ashley understand that? Do they even know that’s what the Bible says? Please tell them what the Bible really says. Tell them about Mary Magdalene and Your grace and love and everything else they don’t know and don’t fully understand. Please help Hope, Kristin, Clementine, and me not to say anything without knowing for sure that it comes from You. Please give me words to say and help me to do the right thing. Why does no one understand why it’s bad to cuss?

That was the end of the letter. I was so confused. But as confused as I was, I was still confident that I was right. I was not willing to listen to either God or to Ashley; however, I believed I was listening and simply not hearing a response from either of them.

Have you ever had an experience like this? Feel free to comment!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Letter to God

I started writing letters to God a little over a year ago. Basically I just pull all the thoughts in my head and all the feelings in my heart out and pray them onto the paper. These letters are my prayers.

All of these letters are personal since I am talking to God; I see no reason to hold anything back as He knows everything about me. Because of this, some of these letters may seem unhelpful and completely unnecessary to add to a blog (especially these first few), but I promise there is a reason that I have added them. Often the reason will be explained after the letters involved are posted. So, nonexistent readers, please keep reading.

This first letter was written after a huge fight with a close friend. All names have been changed. No other edits have been made. Here you go:

April 21, 2011

Dear God,

Right now it’s 12:06. I’m in science. I don’t really care that I’m in science right now; I am going to write this. I’m angry and I don’t want this anger at Ashley to stay and mess up the rest of my day. Since You already know what happened I’m just going to skip that and go into my feelings (of course You know my feelings too but this will help me feel better). I don’t know if I said the right things to Ashley about not cussing. Ashley is really worrying me. I don’t know her heart like You do but I can see that she is not living out Christian (or Catholic) beliefs. Please wake her up and move her heart, so that she realizes, truly realizes, who You are. I don’t believe she ever really found You, so please show who You are. Let her realize that You love her no matter what; that she doesn’t have to cuss or be pretty or popular or whatever to be loved. Tell her that she needs to start living for You and only You. I believe You are the only person she will listen to. We are trying to help her without making her angry, because we are trying to not drive her away. I don’t know if this is what we should be doing. Please help us know what to do and what to say. Please help her not to take everything we say the wrong way. Help us to keep our tempers and to not get defensive, even when she does. I just read James 3:9-12. I wish I could tell her those verses without her erupting on me and telling me that I can’t tell her what to do. I know You can tell her what to do though. Please do. Please find a way for this verse (or any of the others that talk about not cussing) to get to her in a way that won’t drive her away. I know we--I--should say more, but I’m scared that she won’t ever listen to any of us again. She doesn’t need to have to go find new friends now. Right now she needs good Christian friends who will help her through whatever is going on. Should I be the outspoken Christian friend who will not put up with her cussing or should I let everything be and just be there for her if she ever needs to talk. Will she talk if I just wait and am there for her? I don’t know what to do. Tell me what to do.

Please help me. I don’t know how, but You do. You also know how to help Ashley. Please don’t let our friendship (can it still be called that?) fall apart because of this fight. I don’t think anything I said got through to her, so this isn’t worth breaking up our friendship. At least I don’t think so. I don’t know. Jeremiah 29:11- “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord.”


Monday, July 23, 2012

The Pain of Sin

I sinned again. Right there in real life. I lied.

It used to be that I believed I was an honest person, never ever telling a lie. Now I know better. I am a liar, a crook, an adulterer – giving my love to the world instead of Jesus – a sinner. And I hate it. I am ashamed of myself when I sin; I know that I know better and so when I fail yet again it makes me angry. Why can't I just do things right?

Now I don’t hate sinning purely because I can’t do things right. No, I hate – abhor – sinning because I hurt Jesus. Jesus was hurt on the cross, yes, but it was more than that. He was mauled, beaten, punched, whipped, abused, torn, because of me and because of you. Basically I see it this way: every drop of blood that fell from his body and hit the ground, every scratch upon his perfect body, every bruise, every wince, can be linked to a sin of mine or yours. My sins now wounded Jesus then. And, oh, my sins now hurt God too. They cause a split, a chasm, to form in our relationship – mine and His. Sins tear us away from God until we repent and run back. This is evident in Genesis.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day… –Genesis 3:8

God and man walked on the same soil. God and man were able to talk face to face and walk side by side. We lived with God. And then Adam and Eve, the epitome of mankind, sinned and:

…they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. –Genesis 3:8&23

There is the very moment we fell. There is the split in the relationship between God and us.

And that is why I get so upset with myself: I hurt my Maker and I hurt my Savior and I hurt myself.

I know this happens to everyone. Perhaps some don’t realize the impact of their sins, perhaps some do not realize they are sinning, but all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Paul says in Romans exactly what I find myself saying a lot:  

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. –Romans 7:15&17–19

All have sinned and all will continue to sin. Our attitude towards sin, our response, is what sets Christians apart from the others of this world. We do not embrace sin (By no means!), and we do not outlaw sin, for we realize this is impossible. Instead we accept that we have sinned – not the sin itself, but the fact that we are imperfect beings – apologize and repent, and move on with our lives to inevitably sin again sometime or another.

I realize this. I realize that I shall sin again. Luckily God realizes this too. And I’m sure He’s ready to meet me and listen and console and forgive when I drop to my knees once again.

Talk to You soon, God.