This is the final installation in this series. Nathan shares how he prays through his struggles with the spiritual doing/undoing he has been through. He also shares an audio installation he created and some resources he found helpful.
What do I do on those days when I feel like I am going backwards? I first pray in silence offering no words to God but my submission. I read some of Mother Teresa’s writings. This particular excerpt I keep near me:
“Listening is the beginning of prayer, and what we listen to is the voice of God, God that cannot deceive or be deceived. Then if we keep silence, silence cannot be corrected; if we speak, if we answer back, we make mistakes. IN THE SILENCE OF THE HEART GOD SPEAKS; let God fill us, then only we speak. Often we say uncharitable words. They come from us, from our heart, not from God speaking through us, because we are not listening to God. If you want to know how much you love Jesus there is no need to ask anybody to tell you; you are old enough. In the sincerity of your heart you will know it yourself, if you practice silence…. Try to be alone. Try to keep that really deep silence to get rid of bitterness or hatred.”
I go to God in silence on those days. I go to God and remember, “You are within me. You are the life force of the universe. In you, O, God I have my being. You are my breath. You are my heartbeat. You formed me in the womb.” Then silence. I believe that being present in the moment with God is heaven on earth.
Second, I remember stories of people throughout humanity that might have felt like they were going backwards rather than forward while fighting for justice. I remember reading about Ruby Bridges. Her story has stuck with me. She was a young six year old black girl in Louisiana. She was the first person to integrate William Frantz Elementary in New Orleans. She went an entire year as the ONLY person in that school. The other white children (aka their parents) refused to go to school with her. can’t imagine being little Ruby. I am sure on some days she went home and cried to her parents thinking this all had to be some huge mistake. She probably did not want to move forward with her position in making schools in New Orleans a place for everyone. She stayed though, or she was forced by her parents. My point is that she probably did not always feel like this was the right decision, because clearly not many other people supported her. I remember stories like hers when I do not feel like I am making a difference for others. People try to accuse me of only doing this for myself, but I really hope I am sitting in the place for others. I think of Christ staying on the cross for all of us, even though he felt so alone, so burdened, so hurt, and ultimately… completely rejected.
Lastly, I ask for mercy and remember that God is faithful. In the book of Hosea, you see God change his mind against his wrath towards his people. You see his anger turned into overwhelming love. His anger overshadowed by that love. I now see that as foreshadowing of what he did on the cross. He defeated his own wrath and the evil of the world by showing us true sacrificial love that overwhelmed the grave. This Love moves toward others rather than the self. This Love says you are all invited to my table. This Love tears down boundaries. This Love fulfilled the law. This Love is stronger than temple walls. This Love is so strong and unstoppable that nothing in all creation can separate you from it when you surrender to Jesus Christ. This Love is the gateway to life.
I wanted to include some links that have helped me on my journey! Maybe they will help you too!
Jonathan Kent Adams