As humans, we pray – pray for love, pray for change, pray for peace of mind, pray for protection, pray for healing, pray for acceptance, for prosperity, for loved ones, for the world, for all manner of things, we pray. Under dire circumstances, even people who might not consider themselves as having faith in anything beyond themselves pray in desperation, turning to a higher power when circumstances push them to the brink.
When we are especially hurting, longing for answers to life’s greatest questions, languishing in uncertainty, we pray. We can pray for years, sometimes feeling like God doesn’t hear us. Years of tears and pleading, yet, still no answer, just excruciating silence. We suffer under our own cares and woes, under our feelings about ourselves and who we think we are.
But be careful what you pray for. The world has sold us a pack of lies; like how we are not good enough, how we don’t really deserve what we have, that we are not worthy of God’s love because [fill in the blank]. But God has never said such a thing. God is a God of love who keeps calling us and will not let us go. God knows our deepest darkest secrets and in spite of our own hurts and self-loathing, God reaches in and tells us – “I love you – you are my child.” When we are inside our own heads, we are unable to hear that message, no matter how often God sends it to us through people, experiences, songs and other signs and counter signs. So we continue to think God is silent, unresponsive to our most fervent prayers.
In my early years of struggle with myself, who I was, how I fit (or better said, did NOT fit) in this world. I prayed. For years I prayed a prayer for God to change me. “God, how could I have these feelings and thoughts that I’ve been told are sinful and will send me straight into the fires of hell? Please change me. You can do anything so how hard could it be?” And this went on for a very long time – just me, my guilt, God and silence.
I don’t even remember when I finally heard God’s voice in the silence. Some time in my late 30’s or even early 40’s, God said, “I have not been silent. I have been with you since you were conceived. I have had you in my hands lifting you up, protecting you, loving you. For decades I’ve been trying to tell you, I can’t answer your prayer for me to change you because you’re praying the wrong prayer. You assumed my condemnation of you and that you needed to be changed. I don’t want or need to change you because I love you as I created you. All I ever wanted from you was for you to love me and love yourself and others as I love you.”
And in one fell swoop, I realized that I was enough. No change needed. Society, government, religious people, friends, church, family, everyone told me that being gay was not compatible with my Christian faith. They were all wrong. God was right and God told me so.