learning to wonder.

won·der
ˈwəndər
        noun
  1. 1.
    a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.
    verb
  1. 1.
    desire or be curious to know something.
  2. 2.
    feel admiration and amazement; marvel.

I have lost my sense of wonder. Or, if I’m being really honest… I don’t know if I ever had one.

 

When I think of the word wonder today, as a 23 year-old anxious, high-strung adult-ish child, I think of fear. Of questioning everything I do. The “what ifs” become my wonderings: I wonder if this will happen or that will work out… that’s all I wonder about, these days.

 

I’m a pretty logical person. I like concreteness, a point A to point B route with instructions. I read manuals for things to ensure I’m doing it right, and wholeheartedly believe Google has an answer for everything. One of the reasons I love history is that it is fixed– we can’t change it, we can only learn from it.

I like my to-do lists and calendars and planners. I like to leave no room for surprises and sudden life-changes. I’m fearful for what happens tomorrow, especially if i don’t have it figured out today. I want control– I want to know what’s happening when, and I hate being out of the loop, so I tend to take matters into my own hands and get things done. I’m one of those people in a group project who would rather do all the work and insure it’s done well than to trust group members.

I was a mini adult: always mature and independent, fitting in more with the grownups talking politics than the kiddie table at family gatherings. And those qualities have morphed me into an independent, control-freak of a perfectionist as an actual adult.

This is what makes faith so hard for me. It’s so messy. So full of gray areas and questions with no answers. I don’t like the guessing and the uncertainty and the wrestling with scripture and unsureness of life (especially when I was so sure of it all once upon a time). I want to know things for sure. I want to know my plans, my life goals, my future. I want to know God like He’s in the room. I want to see, to touch, to fully know that God is here like he says he is. Imagination only gets me so far.

I’m required to trust and put faith in something I don’t see or fully understand–that’s the freakin’ definition of faith.

I don’t want to be like this when it comes to my faith. I want to know Him and believe He is who he says he is without the logical answers and plans my brain wants. I want to trust unwavering. I want to stand and revel in glory without questioning if He’s who he says he is– and to not wait until something good or exciting comes my way to do so. I want to learn to really, really know Him without the fear of talking to air when I pray.

I want to wonder. I need to wonder. I need to learn how to marvel in amazement and awe, to admire who He is and what He’s doing. Because i see the things God has done– and believe me, I have seen them unravel in front of me–I just don’t see Him. I know He’s not some magician or mastermind sitting in the sky barking orders and causing chaos, but it feels like that somedays.

It’s like He’s behind a curtain pulling strings, which I know is not how this whole thing works.  I can see the effects, but not the causation. And it bothers me. Why can’t I see him, dangit?!?! Why can’t I have an actual hand to hold when I need comfort, instead of something imagined in my head?!

It’s a struggle. No doubt.

I’m reading a new book (I finally have time for fun reading, hallelujah amen) called I Don’t Wait Anymore. It’s by one of my favorite bloggers, Grace Thornton (her blog Grace for the Road was one of the first blogs I truly followed). I’m only into chapter 1 and it is already posing some hard thoughts and questions.

I read this paragraph and kinda sat with my mouth hanging open. FullSizeRender (1)

“I trusted God like I’d trust a funeral director to take care of all the arrangements properly. I didn’t trust Him like an intimate friend whose arms I could fall into with tear-stained relief because hallelujah, here’s the Person who came just because He knows me and loves me.”

In that moment I needed a God I could trust with my agony-ridden, emotion-etched heart, not just with my life’s strategy.

I felt a cold shiver reading this. That first line, man. How could I follow God and treat him like He’s a funeral director? He’s God!

Then I realized I do. Oh, boy do I.

I pray every night like clockwork, for my friends and family and specific requests that pop up. I don’t talk. I just list. It feels more like a honey-do list, or like one of my beloved to-do lists, than it does talking to God. To use a line from a favorite book, I treat God like he’s a wish granting factory– like a genie granting wishes if I say them enough and with enough feeling. I used to not be like that in prayer–I used to have lengthy soliloquies and one-sided discussions with God. I’d walk and talk to God, casually chatting and laughing like a coffee chat with a friend. But they eventually stopped.

I think it was because I was afraid. I was afraid I wasn’t being heard– I was just talking aimlessly to thin air, nothing coming of it.

I used to talk about my fears, my anxiety. My sadness. But I didn’t feel like I was being listened to. I want to talk about my day, my dreams and my plans, but it doesn’t feel all that important.

It’s really hard to talk in-depth when no one is there to talk to. It’s weird to spill my guts to the wall, without a reply or a head nod. It’s lonely to cry without an actual shoulder to cry on.

I read my Bible and journal but usually wind up with more questions and confusion because I’m doing it alone. The stories sometimes overwhelm and confuse me and I close my Bible unsure of what i even read.

I don’t even know what else I’m supposed to do anymore, honestly. What else makes this faith thing an actual relationship? A friendship like Grace described? How else do I get to know God as a friend I can give my agony and my joys to?

Because if that’s the kind of relationship you can have with God, the kind that Grace describes… to quote When Harry Met Sally, I’ll have what she’s having.

I can’t exactly fall into the arms of someone that isn’t there. That would make for one scary trust fall, y’all. But I want that. I want to find relief in His arms. But His actual arms, not just some extension of my imagination. I want a safe space to cry and spill all my emotions that isn’t my therapist’s office or my instagram. I want God to be my person.

I want that kind of relationship with God. But I don’t know how.


Honesty hour: while talking about an intimate friend: the thought of God and intimacy freaks me out. I just can’t. While I know this isn’t exactly what is meant by intimate friend here, I just can’t get past it. The idea of God (who still I cannot see) wooing me or romancing me is something i just do. not. get. I’ve struggled with it for literal years. I’ve read the book of Hosea and Redeeming Love and Captivating and I still cannot put my grasp on a relationship so intimate with someone I literally do not see. Or know.

I want to know God better. I want to love God better. But the thought of God as an intimate friend is something I just cannot wrap my head or heart around.

God is father. God is friend. God is savior. God is not intimate or lover or anything romantic to me. Can I save the wooing for an actual human in my life since I’ve never experienced that?!?

/honesty hour over


 

I go through the motions. I do the “to-dos” on my checklist when it comes to my faith. But it’s not enough. Something’s missing.

a few days, my favorite Sarah Bessey shared this quote and it made me think:

“Without wonder, we approach spiritual formation as a self-help project. We employ techniques. We analyze gifts and potentialities. We set goals. We assess progress. Spiritual formation is reduced to cosmetics.” – Eugene H. Peterson (from “Living the Resurrection”)

Yep. My faith is less about faith and more about self-care: making me feel better and having all my problems solved. Except none of that is happening when I think of faith this way. I don’t feel better. My problems haven’t been solved. My plans haven’t suddenly come together in front of me.

I feel like there’s something separating me and God from knowing each other.

There’s nothing wonderful or mystical or intimate about treating my faith like a goal sheet, like a to-do list. Yet it’s how i’m wired to function, so that’s how I do things in my faith too.

There’s no wonder. No creativity. No marvel or openness. Just open and shut, point A to point B, get-it-done-and-move-on mentality when it comes to me and my walk.

I don’t want it to be like that. My faith and trust suffer when I treat it like a honey-do list instead of a relationship.“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.”

Because when things don’t happen on the to-do list or plans fall through, my life feels like it’s going to fall apart… and when I approach faith like this, it falls apart, too. And I react as such.

Where can I find the wonder in my faith? How can I fix the chasm between my desire of logic and order and answers with my knowledge and belief in things unseen?

How can I see faith as a friendship and life together with Jesus, instead of treating my relationship with Jesus like he’s a funeral director?

I want to be personal. I want to be real. I want to find wonder and beauty in this faith, not just a to-do list of things I need Him to do for me.

But I don’t know how. My heart doesn’t just get this whole relationship thing. I’ve never been good at relationships with the people in front of me, let alone with someone i can’t see.

If you have a relationship with Jesus that’s a genuine, intimate, supportive friendship: help me. How does that happen? What does it look like?

How do I get to know God and let him know me? How can I learn to wonder?

Because I know my faith was made for so much more than what it looks like right now.

 

“I tore the veil

for you to come close

There’s no reason for you

to stand at a distance anymore”

Yesterday, I  saw these lyrics on instagram from Out of Hiding by Steffany Gretzinger (I love her). It describes what I want, truthfully: I want to not be frightened by intimacy. I want to trust him with my heart, not just my life’s plans.

I don’t want a distance between me and God. I want to come out of hiding and fall into His arms… but I want actual arms to run into.

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