This past season of my life has been one of the hardest. It started with a promotion. In December I was promoted to Private Banking Associate and given a quiver of tools to help me learn, develop and succeed, with the end goal of becoming a private banker someday. I love my job. I love learning about lending, credit, treasury management, finance, how to sell, how to maximize margin. Literally, I eat it up. The challenging part of my position is that my talents for learning quickly, discerning how to communicate with clients, improve process flow and coordinate between internal departments, has inevitably led to over-work. Mostly self-induced. Once again, I find myself in that good-problem-to-have-because-you-have-some-talent type of situation.
What has this done to me? Stressed me out. What have I done to mitigate stress? Stress eat, drink, medicate without second thought, over-sleep, party, stay out until 4:30-5am on weekends with co-workers/close friends. Where is my husband, you ask? Alongside of me emotionally, aware of my struggles, but allowing me to do my own things. Joe’s style of husbanding reminds me a bit of my parent’s style of parenting. Let her go, she is going to do her own thing anyway, admonish problems that are really bad, encourage her to go to the Lord and then someday, when she hits enough walls, she will go to Him.
I have hit a big wall. Not the wall where I realize my language is out of control and I should curb it, or that I have a partying problem and I should grow up, or that I am living an almost entirely secular lifestyle, but that I have allowed the idol of status to take residency in my heart, to the point where I was acting as if there was no God. I was acting like the lover of my soul did not exist.
This weekend I went to an international house of prayer in Colorado Springs with a friend. We had this on our calendars since April. The agenda was to drive down there (1.5 hours) and spend several hours alone in grottos. The intent is to pray, worship, read the Bible, rest. That morning, before we headed down, I wasn’t even scared of being alone with the Lord. I knew I needed Him so badly I could hardly think. On the drive down my friend asked if I had an agenda for my time with Him, and I said yes, there were a few specific pieces of my life where I was searching for guidance. We encouraged each other, she said some helpful pastoral things, and when we got to the h.o.p. she showed me around and walked me to my grotto. I spent almost three hours in silence. Mostly chaotic, disorganized journaling. Then I read through Lamentations, then the Psalms. I prayed.
The interesting thing about my walk with God these days, is that instead of feeling a mountain of guilt when I haven’t been with Him for so long, I just feel hungry for His word, which then leads me to hunger for His person. I am only saved because of His great love, not by my great ability to do anything at all. It often takes something to shatter my pride and level me out to remember this, but once I do I am okay.
Anyway, in my time with Jesus I was almost unemotional. I was focused. I needed answers, but did not expect anything crazy. I was tired. I had two questions, one career-centric and the other relationship-centric. My motive behind asking these questions was to obtain answers to move forward and structure my life better so that I would not be so uncomfortable. The problem is, I did not get answers to those questions.
The older I get the more annoyed I become with my blind spots. I am the one who seems to pay the most for them. They cause me to look stupid, miss important queues, fail, etc. One of my biggest blind spots is attempting to take control by relying on my own power (intelligence, discernment, ways of communicating). The problem with this is twofold (1) I am taking control in my own strength, (2) I am often taking control of things the Lord does not want me to change or impact. In the case of my two laser-focused questions I asked God in the h.o.p., I was asking Him if I should focus my control on (1) a specific element of work and (2) specific relationships. He did not answer my questions.
Instead, He did what He often does, He told me my answer was Him. My answer was not a yes/no, pursue/don’t pursue, try/don’t try… my answer was “be with me more.”
This morning’s sermon was part of a series on prayer titled “Prayer as Life.” Our pastor dropped a line, “If I am not praying then I am not connected to reality.” So, to reflect, if I am not praying then I am not connected to His reality. I am firing in the dark. I am missing the call to engagement with Him in His work. I am trying to answer the wrong questions.
I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to waste my time trying to answer the wrong questions, or find my own answers to the right ones. Here is the right answer to the ultimate right question: God is infallible, He is mighty, He is worthy of all praise. I am chosen by Him and covered by the blood of his Son. My life is hidden in Christ. After that, life on earth seems a lot like asking Him what the rest of the right questions are, but the right answer seems to be the same: look to Jesus.