It seems that over the past few years, I have either hated you or loved you. I’ve pondered your existence, asked the hardest questions, and pushed the boundaries of conventional theology. That isn’t true now. You barely cross my mind. Where are you? Or, more accurately, where am I?
I’ve been gone. Where I am, I don’t know. I took a wrong turn somewhere. It feels as though I got drunk, blindfolded myself, and sleepwalked (all at once) out into the world, and now here I am, waking up, having no idea where I am. Lord, I don’t even know how I’ve gotten myself here into this peculiar unknown. Everything has been a blur these past few months. For once, I don’t feel as though you have abandoned me. I am the one who walked away.
I read a devotional and the Bible every night, but it’s only a ritualistic chore, something I’ve been doing every night since New Year’s Day that I continue to do only for the sake of uniformity. I’m not even reading the words on the page. Church is only a bundle of good feelings–a place where I socialize, joke around, and make myself useful as often as possible. I like the camaraderie and leadership opportunities I have there, but I miss the point every Sunday. I’m nothing but a fraud in your kingdom. I could, and would be willing to, preach a sermon to a thousand people about how good and unfailing you are; evangelize, pray for people, ask other people to pray for me, go on mission trips, be on a worship team, and share testimonies, but it’s all a shell. My faith is a beautiful package full of nothing but more paper and bubble wrap.
When I need help, I completely forget your existence, like a person forgets the day they’re born. Sometimes when I used to say “forget,” I meant that I knew you were there and felt you couldn’t help, and therefore didn’t reach out. Not so in this case. You have become so irrelevant that the thought of you does not even reach my conscious mind. How do I immerse myself in your word, your music, and your church, but not even think of you? How do I ask people for prayer but not even think of who is behind it all? Has everything only become a social pleasantry, like “hi, how are you, I’m fine?”
I am in need of somebody who can recognize me as real, because Lord, sometimes I don’t even feel real to myself. I have so many faces that I wear for so many different people; I can’t keep track anymore. I do my best to care for all my images, like one would tend to a garden of a hundred different flowers, but sooner or later I forget one, and it crumbles and shows the dull dirt beneath. Every day, I experience so much anxiety that I feel physically sick. My mind is constantly playing paranoid tricks on me. I’m sad, I’m reactive, I cry too much, I’m uninspired, and I’m becoming more and more proficient at covering it up. Because who would want to be around someone so negative? Who would ever love someone like that? The only way to be loved is to be inspiring, or funny, or spontaneous, or creative. Lord, I don’t know how long I have until I run out of all the old jokes I’ve stored up over the years just for times like this, or the pep talks I’ve recycled from better days.
I can only hope that you want to be around someone so negative. I can only hope that maybe, for you, I don’t have to be an actress in a hastily-produced play. I can only hope that you would willingly choose, above all things, to sit with me in complete silence.
Your fraudulent and flaky servant in name only,