Prayer and Other Frustrating Things
I went on an epic journey last week. It was with a bunch of friends and warrior women and we went back in time. Well, for many of them it was a first time look but for me it was a memory tour. I went back and remembered all that God had invited me to. I remembered some amazing stories and some sad ones too. I remembered and met people I fell in love with, who have helped shape me on my own journey while I was with women I love, who are shaping me still.
We saw and did crazy beautiful things.
One of the things we did was a prayer labyrinth. It’s a huge mapped out circle with a meandering path that winds and turns, leading into the centre and then out again. It was infuriating. I’m a functional person. I like to get things done. And that path was design to SLOW PEOPLE DOWN. It’s designed for reflection. It’s meant to help you clear your mind. It was so frustrating. I was holding it together on the outside but on the inside I was flipping out. It was a great source of reflection in the end of course. I realized a bunch of things through that exercise I’d like to share:
#1. Advance isn’t always obvious. As you wind around these tight corners you kind of snake your way forward. It actually feels like you are going backwards sometimes. You literally turn around and walk back past where you just were. Except, you aren’t still there. You are following a line that is progressing forward. So, even though you feel like you are repeating and going over the same space – you are not. Can you see where this is headed? That is called progress. But it isn’t always obvious. Sometimes progress is so slow and so windy that it feels like it’s not progress at all. But every time I started getting frustrated I would look down at my feet. I would realize that I was further along the path than I was the last time I was here. And it got me thinking. What if I did that more in my everyday life? What if I took the time to look down at where I’m standing and even though it feels like I’ve been here a hundred times before I recognized that it’s not the same place? What if the place I’m standing, seems familiar, but is actually farther down the path? It would inevitably lead me closer to the centre.
#2. Shortcuts are cheating. I really wanted to skip some of the path. I wanted to jump the lines. It frustrated me to stay on the trail. One of my friends did. She went into a frenzy of activity trying to get to the centre as fast as she could and ended up at the start again! It was really funny. And it’s also really true. I feel like our spirituality has a rhythm and when we mess with it – when we try to speed the lessons up and skip ahead because we don’t like God’s timing or the long-suffering required for some deeper lessons, we actually don’t end up closer to the centre – we end up at the beginning. “Let’s try this again” I can hear the spirit saying. Needless to say we all laughed until we almost cried – which is what I do in real life to. How many lessons will we have to re-learn because we want to skip them altogether?
#3. It takes time. I keep learning this. I’m sure you do to. We live in an instantaneous world. If my email takes longer than ten seconds to load I open another browser window. I’m not kidding. I can’t take slow. And that’s a spiritual problem. Because it takes time to get to the place where we are ready to connect with God. It takes some time to empty ourselves of ourselves. It takes time to listen, to pray, to hear, to learn, to try. It all takes time. And it’s worth the time too. Time is the most valuable commodity we have. I need to learn to waste it on God. It’s His after all. I need to allow myself to take the time to experience God.
So, the long and winding road of prayer is frustrating and rewarding. Those things go together a lot if you think about it. Let’s just say, it bothered me in all the right ways! It reminded me that we are all on a journey, all the time, with a lot of amazing people. I’m trying to pay more attention – not to just ‘get somewhere’ but to enjoy the path there.
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