Lent sneaked right up on me this year and I felt so unprepared. Partly, because it began earlier than usual, Easter being about as early as possible* this year, but also because I have been through a period of having really given up hope. One of the most frightening things about my Borderline and PTSD is how the most terrible emotions can obscure everything good and important to me, even God and faith. It has been a period where God and heaven seem “hidden” for a while. Very slowly I am learning that the hidden times do not mean that my relationship with Our Saviour is lost or that He is gone away.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, worship His Holy Name. Sing like never before, O my soul, I’ll worship Your Holy Name… For all Your goodness I will keep on singing, ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.
Last night I went to a candlelit service of reflection, music and prayer, with the opportunity for conversation, guidance and the Sacrament of Confession (reconciliation). I talked with one of the Priests about the feelings of anger that are coming and my fears of them; my fears of being out of control and consumed by this emotion that seems to block out all good and through which I cannot pray. His response really surprised me and I think it is going to change how I see my relationship with God and the work of each one of us in the church body and the community. He told me that the struggle I am going through with these feelings can itself be prayer. Prayer itself is not intended to be painful. If one kind of prayer, like praying with Bible verses, or reading, or trying to spend long periods in silence, is impossible at this time, perhaps God is leading me towards a different kind of prayer at the moment. Continuing to walk and struggle through this, even knowing that perhaps this pain will never be totally resolved this side of heaven; offering the work of every moment of every day; offering someone kindness or a smile; giving thanks for the small beautiful things that we notice along our way to work; writing to a friend; all these actions can be actions of love. The passion of anger may even be channelled into the passion of love. Perfection is not needed and could even lead to pride in our own achievements, or desperation feeling that we are useless. Continuing to walk forward when even the smallest things are an agonising struggle – that can be love, and that can be prayer.
And on that day when my strength is failing, the end draws near and my time has come, still my soul sing Your praise unending, ten thousand years and then forever more.
Perhaps then, this can be a new kind of prayer for me. Right here and now, even though I am so far from where I feel I am meant to be and even though so often I can lose sight of hope very easily. This kind of prayer, prayer in this moment, prayer in our offering of our current selves and current circumstances – that cannot be lost. It does not require even hope for the future, or tranquility in our hearts; it does not require success, much less perfection, but it does require the resolve to walk on.
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes.
Italicised lyrics – extracts from “Ten Thousand Reasons” by Matt Redman. This is rather different from the kind of music I usually choose to pray with but it’s a song that speaks to me right now.