Someone recently told me to not be afraid to pray big prayers. To pray for the bold things, the quiet desires burrowed deep within.
The thought has circled around in my head in recent weeks, but never long enough to actually put into action.
I’m afraid to pray for big things. I’m afraid they won’t come true once I speak them. Because I’ve spoken words larger than me before, and large words are an invitation to be taken down a path we never would have desired to encounter otherwise.
Another someone recently asked me what my long-term dreams were. I couldn’t help but laugh, because what does that mean anymore? I sat in the backseat of his truck, between two high schoolers and said, “I don’t really know. I’m more focused on the short-term and what life looks like here.”
Advice and questions like that rattle my heart. My immediate reaction is to find a reason to buy a ticket to somewhere else. Maybe somewhere else is where I’ll find the answers to my long-term dreams and be able to pray bold things.
The holidays are a beautiful but odd time, I think. They make my eyes water, because it feels like another mile marker in life when I don’t feel like I belong.
This was my first hometown Thanksgiving in six years. I hugged familiar bodies and wrote the word “home” in cursive on a giant pumpkin that people signed with what they were thankful for. The period I permanently dotted after that word–home–seemed to dig into my soul, poking at unspoken and painful things dwelling there.
It’s natural and human to desire belonging. Yet I seem to want to speed up the process, or at least give myself grief for not being in a place I thought should exist by now.
I’ve been buying chunky sweaters and lighting candles and writing in at least three different journals. I’m desperately trying to find belonging, a place to land, if even in lined pages of a gifted journal I wouldn’t have picked out for myself.
I’ve flown on a handful of airplanes in the past two weeks, one trip to visit my grandparents’ markers in the ground (it’s quite a strange experience to look for your own last name in bold letters surrounded by other dates and names of strangers) and another trip to the deep South for a friend’s wedding. I thought traveling–for I claimed the most peace and home I had on this earth was found amongst the clouds soaring to another destination–would help me sift through my soul’s confusion and provide a sense of belonging.
It didn’t. It frightened me even more, for up in the clouds, I found more unsettledness than I did in this place I’ve claimed as home with a permanent period at the end.
The sky is giant and gray today, accentuating even more of the gray homes surrounding mine and the barren trees swaying to an invisible force. It’s equally melancholic and tragically beautiful. I think it’s a picture of what life can look like when we pray for bold things. We formulate the sentences in a season of vibrant color and full leafy trees, and suddenly–we’re wearing chunky sweaters and mindlessly wandering dark afternoons wondering what happened.
Bold prayers are frightening because they can lead us to places we never thought. It’s how I landed here and wrote home on a pumpkin. And that’s why I’m afraid to pray boldly again, because what if it leads to more gray days and thinning candles and barren trees? What if it’s just another mile marker holiday where I’m wishing for answers and a sense of belonging, but yet again, it’s not arrived?
I have asked lovers young and old alike how they met their significant others. “How did you just know she was the one?” I’ve demanded, laughing of course. I’m looking for the formula.
I have sat in a dark room, crying onto my sleeping niece’s hair as I rocked her and asked the darkness around me, “How do you get from here to there? How do you find belonging?”
Perhaps the bittersweet taste of this post–for I truly am thankful, both for a place to call home and pumpkin pie gatherings–won’t provide answers or a hopeful push into vocalizing bold things. Perhaps it’s just a giant chunky sweater hug in which you can sit and rest and know that other people are waiting and wondering too. Other people find holidays to be odd dates on the calendar.