I use to pray a certain prayer.
It began during the time when I spent Thursday mornings in Bible study, in a hall of 100 chatty, coffee drinking, worship-singing, Bible-toting women, and had two toddlers in nursery. It was during the time when I woke early to drink coffee with too much creamer and journaled prayers in my notebook before my day was inundated with diaper changes and meal-making. It was during the time I sat weekly with a woman much older than I to learn about God's word, and recite scriptures to remind me of my worth.
She'd ask me over and over in various ways, all purposed to uncover the same root, "Why is His love for you so hard to believe?"
"Put these verses on note cards," she said. "Flip through them while you're sitting in your car. Put them on your bathroom mirror. Practice memorizing them until they are the words that fill your heart."
I never made the note cards.
Instead, I carried her prayers like a librarian moves books.
Isle to isle. Up, down, over. Scanning titles. Open. Close. Fingertips gliding over spines.
This one looks good. It tells a story I'll like. One day, I'll read the rest, I'd think. One day, I'll take the words and invite them in.
Regardless. Even though there were no note cards, a believer appreciates every prayer, like a librarian appreciates every book. Even small prayers tucked away and gathering dust.
But this story isn't about her, the note cards, or what I was moving from shelf to shelf. It's not about the prayers I collected like novels and placed on some later to-read list. It's about the prayer that has crept up on me for years, and replays itself within my subconscious, like a startling public service announcement on repeat.
It goes something like this:
I know I haven't been writing. Like at all, and I just want to touch base on this (again). I'd never deny the fact that You made it clear years ago to be writing. It's not that I've given up on myself as a writer, it's just that life has gotten busy. I'm tired, and often feeling uninspired to string words together at the end of the day. But it's just a season. I'll be back. I may not daydream crafty sentences to write anymore, but that obligation you gave me to be writing, still beckons me. Like all the time. And I feel indebted to it, like it's scrawled across some giant life to-do list that I can't yet check off. I get it. It's not going anywhere until it's done. But God, can we make an agreement? Will you please never take this desire, or this gift? Will you keep it and protect it for me?
And the gist of the prayer is really this: God, don't let me lose my love of writing. Please don't take the gift away because I'm not using it.
I'm not entirely sure where along the line I began to believe that God will swipe gifts out of offense, or that he cuts people off when they've been feeling tired or uninspired for too long, and passes them along to more grateful servants. But it's a prayer of desperation that I've caught myself praying many times over the years. In each of those moments, I feel the self-inflicted guilt or pressure for not tending to the gift--something I love, that has been deep-seated within me and using it. The same goes for the musician, the dancer, the artist, the mentor, the athlete, the teacher, the doctor, the poet. We've all been given gifts and talents that are unique and they're meant for giving away.
I'm beginning to realize that all of this--the prayer, the desperate plea, the bartering, the excuses, the feelings of indebtedness, and the guilt, is all fear. Fear. A fear so great that it has began to perpetuate into a cycle of--do the thing, and do it perfect. The rest is failure. And when you don't, you are definitely a failure. And the cycle continues. Anne Lamott paid tribute to a relateable notion when she said, "You know you've created God in your own image, when He hates all the same people you do." Or when He follows your same outlines for success, failure, beauty, or having it all together.
So I've decided that I need to forget that prayer. And that it's time for me to relieve God from my check-ins concerning this gift and my reminders to him to keep my name on it. I'm praying to trust more, and believe that He's got more words and stories waiting for me to claim when I'll have them. More words than those note cards that I never wrote, and more words than a stack of books on some lengthy to-read list.
There are words that are all mine and no one can re-gift, swipe, or take them.
Do you pray any prayers that you know in your heart need a revamp?