Prayers from a Nonbeliever

nonbelieverLast night, I decided to pick up a book sitting on my nightstand. Who knows how long it had been sitting there. It was just in this pile of books I had been meaning to get to.

The book is called “Prayers from a Nonbeliever: A Story of Faith” by Julia Cameron.

For some reason, I decided to open up the book just to see what it was about, only to be floored by the first entry.

Dear God,

I do not have an easy relationship to you, God. I am confused by your press. I have read so much about you, from so many quarrelsome experts, that I do not know who you are – if you are. And yet, I suppose you are – something made all this – and so I thought I would try to make contact.

I doubt that I will do this right. I do not know how to do this right. But I think the fact that I am trying should count for something.

Where should I begin? I like your world. With all its flaws and suffering, it is still beautiful. Perhaps we agree on that. Who knows? Maybe we agree on my gripe about “God Experts,” too. They make it feel so hard to know you.

Yesterday, I lay down on a patch of grass and pressed my head to the earth as if I could hear your heart. Maybe I did. Today I wrote you this first prayer.

Even though I’ve graduated on to being one of the advanced students at the Meditation Center, I still struggle through my relationship with God. There’s that need to be a meticulous perfectionist when it comes to the soul that every now and again I have to take a step back and say…this isn’t working.

I look at others in my class, high on the peace and happiness, and I feel my heart in pain. Why? Because it is broken. Going back to the Meditation Center meant coming back with a broken heart. The broken heart deals a lot with promises made, covenants struck, and a life lived just for one wish and then realizing…God is not going to live up to his end of the bargain.

A broken heart is filled with sorrow of what will never be. When it is God that has broken your heart, and you are told again and again not to anticipate that one wish you have held for your entire life, it’s hard to forgive and not hate God for breaking his end of the bargain.

But I sit in that class every single week, listening to God…listening to his words and his teachings, trying to hold on to that sweet essence when he knows the weight I carry within my heart. It’s enough to make me into a non-believer despite all of the miracles I have seen in this lifetime. He gave me everything and more…just not the one thing I wanted and made covenants to attain.

God has made sure I held true to those covenants. If I tried to stray from the covenant, you could see him show up or send someone to intervene before it escalated. It got to the point that I sat there patiently waiting for God to send someone to intervene, just to see if I still had God’s attention. He ALWAYS sent someone to stop me from breaking that covenant.

Reading those words from a prayer book from a non-believer, it really struck a chord inside of me. You can look at the beauty around you and think…wow…you can see God in everything. Yet, you can look at the sorrow inside of yourself and think…how can I fix this?

God is still there. I didn’t shut him out. I walked right towards him and said…”I am broken. Help me fix this.”

I have more anger inside of me because I should be mad. All of the things I sacrificed in life ended up being for nothing. All of the things I believed in ended up being for nothing. So what if all of this stuff about God is all for nothing?

Would you believe God’s answer was to look at life a little differently?

I had to learn to let go of that one wish…that dream. I had to detach from it and tell myself…this isn’t the right time to dream that kind of dream. This time is not conducive to dreaming that kind of dream. His consolation? Help others find parents.

That means the answer to giving up on the dream of having a baby is to help children that are already on this earth…help them to find parents of their own. I can’t be the permanent parent. I have to be the one who helps these kids find permanent homes and families. I have to remain detached from the relationship of parent and child. I have to help these kids…that way I’m not helping just one or two kids…I’m helping a lot of kids and providing a service to God.

THAT IS THE CONSOLATION.

Maybe I say that in anger or maybe I say it in all caps because it’s a reminder of how these times are. There are kids in conflict countries in Africa that have no families. Their families have been killed. There are countries that are religious based and frown upon unwed/divorced/widowed mothers. Those kids (and moms) need help.

God’s new way of thinking for me was to stop thinking about what I want (a family of my own) and start thinking of helping others find families of their own.

That’s karma. If you want something that is forbidden from you, practice service and help others in achieving that same dream. For me, I need to help kids find a family of their own. Maybe in the next lifetime I’ll be given a loving family of my own.

So that’s where my life is heading…down that road. That was God’s answer…to look at this dream differently.

While the students talk about their newfound feelings of peace and their new mental awareness, I sit quietly listening to their stories. Once your mind is awakened, it cannot be turned off. My mind has been awakened for a long time, my issues with God all rests within my heart.

Broken hearts take a long time to heal. It takes a long time to forgive. It takes a long time to say to yourself that you’re okay with God breaking your heart like this…but he and I…we’re working on it.

That piece from “Prayers from a Nonbeliever” struck a chord within me because sitting with God all of the time now working through all of those emotions of anger, deceit, betrayal, false hopes…it almost makes you want to say that if I’m sitting here trying really hard to work through this, it should count for something, right?

I know what I once was…before God broke my heart. I just wonder if I’ll ever be able to forgive him for breaking his end of the deal. There are times that I have to ask myself if everything I know about God is worth it at all. I wish it was as easy as being a nonbeliever.

They say seeing is believing. There is nothing that has happened in this lifetime that would ever make me believe God was not real. I just disapprove of his methods at times. But like a good child, I obey. I sit there and listen to what he has to tell me and just pray he’ll help me not be so mad at him.

I sit and press my hand against my heart because it hurts so much I feel how physically broken it is…like I know the doctor is going to tell me I have heart issues because I can feel the physical pain and hope I am not going to actually die of a broken heart…not just yet. I have a lot of cleaning up to do in this soul…ain’t got time to die.

AIN’T GOT TIME TO DIE

Spiritual by Hall Johnson

Lord, I keep so busy praisin’ my Jesus
Keep so busy praisin’ my Jesus
Keep so busy praisin’ my Jesus
Ain’t got time
‘Cause when I’m healin’ de sick
When I’m healin’ de sick
When I’m healin’ de sick
‘Cause it takes all o’ ma time
All o’ ma time
To praise my Lord
If I don’t praise Him de rocks gonter cry out
Glory an’ honor

Lord, I keep so busy workin’ fer de Kingdom
Keep so busy workin’ fer de Kingdom…
Ain’t got time to die
‘Cause when I’m feedin de po’…
I’m workin’ fer de Kingdom…
Ain’t got time to die

Lord, I keep so busy servin’ my Master
Keep so busy servin’ my Master
Ain’t got time to die
‘Cause when I’m givin’ my all…
I’m servin’ my Master…
Ain’t got time to die

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