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Part 2: Prayer/God's Voice
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Prayer was second nature to me. Prayer was talking to God and ideally, hearing back from him. Prayer was a petition, a focus and a release.

We prayed for everything. Good weather, good moods, and protection. When i was young I prayed for a bird, so a few years later, a cockatiel landed in our front yard. My mom managed to catch it, and for the next few years I worked very hard on taming that bird. It took a few years to get him to not draw blood. He was a rather pathetic shoulder bird, he liked being left alone by human types and when he went off on the whistles.... man oh man... shrill. But with my efforts, I became the only human he tolerated. And he was mine; God had given him to me. My sister learned from my mistake and made sure to pray for her bird to be gentle, affectionate, and social- oh and blue. (she got it, by the way, with all the list met)

I grew up with a semi-charismatic belief system. If someone needed significant prayer, we would get together with them, place hands on their shoulders or back or knee (if they were sitting) and pray aloud together. A family member in the hospital or themselves diagnosed with a terrible disease or a spiritual attack.

In junior high, a teacher came to our church that was talking about spiritual gifts and second baptisms and revival type stuff. I and my dad were the only ones who went. We both craved a more intimate relationship with God, and the supernatural has its draw.

There, I encountered my first big struggle with my interactions with God. Here, we had a powerful man of God, and God’s presence was there. But.. the speaker couldn’t knock me over with the power of God. and as hard as I tried to follow the instructions to connect with God, it wasn’t happening. I wanted to fake it, but feared God would tell the Holy Man and he would embarass me more. But maybe I wasn’t being receptive enough....I finally let what felt like might be a weakness in my knees knock me back, and to my relief, no one called me on it. So that must have been God.. but ...what was wrong with me that I couldn’t connect with God that way? When everyone else was? And that was what let me into His presence. My ultimate unworthiness and the knowledge of his deep abiding love. I was struck with deep sobs. They prayed for me, that whatever filth in my life was holding me back would lose its power over me... and eventually, my sobs turned into laughter. A hysterical laughter as desperate as the sobbing had been. God loved ME! He loved me. He loved me... I clung to that. that was what he wanted me to know. I encouraged the laughter and the feeling, because that had to be my purpose there.

When we left, I was sorry the guy was only going to be there that one night. I would have loved a week. I was certain that if I had a week of focus, I could get to the point in my relationship with God where his servants could knock me over with a breath of air.

In high school, I joined a bible study. I met Noel and later her sister, Nina. Nina was the gal who told me about Pure Heart. I tried to form friendships, but with the half hour before classes once a week spent more on singing and listening to a brief word from God, I never was able to fully connect with anyone. I tried to become more involved in the group. During the National Day of Prayer, we erected a flagpole in one of the courtyards and circled around it, praying desperately for the other students. We prayed that the lost would find Jesus. That he would redeem the school, the nation. That he would bring a revival.

I remember when someone came to speak to the students and we deemed it satanic. I can’t remember the event anymore. I think it was about one of the following: gay rights, serious sex ed, or maybe a magic show that was purporting to be real magic. But we were convinced it was an attack on the student body by satan. We gathered together in a room backstage and we spent the entire two hours he was there in deep prayer. There was singing, weeping, crying out, and praying in tongues as well as the normal sort of prayer. It was intense, and we felt God's presence on a deeper level than most of us had.

I knew God’s purpose involved me serving him somehow, but my deepest shame was that despite everything I did, I never could hear his voice. I could somewhat feel impressions that I thought was him. We were taught to judge everything we heard or thought we were being led to do against the Bible. The Bible was Truth and could be used to discern was was God, what was demonic, and what was my own voice.

When I was in the transition from high school to college I was on the hunt for a husband. Having been raised how I was, I knew I needed a man. After all, a woman’s purpose is to support and help her man. Plus, I had all the romantic ideals of a man completing you/soul mates and all that crap. My biggest difficulty was the fact that I was completely unattractive to the opposite sex. I did have a huge  crush on my college group leader. And my feelings told me that he was the man God intended for me. (this would come back later to  haunt me) But long before we tried to date, he informed me that there was no chance of our relationship progressing beyond friendship.

I spent the next few years focusing on school. I tried to figure out what God’s plan for me was. Did He want me to marry? I told him many times that it would make things easier for me if he told me plainly. But he wanted me to learn and be my own person, not a robot (though, I was all for robotic obedience. After all, his plan was much better than my own screwed up attempts).

College was 6 years of the same attempt to figure out God’s will and do it. I finally came to the conclusion that we had to trust God was in control of everything and that what seemed like major disasters were still in his plan... after all i was trying... so hard.

And then Mike happened. I didn’t mean for anything to happen. I had spent so much time convinced I wasn’t attractive to men that when I found one who wanted to be my friend I leapt on it. Only he didn’t want to be just friends. He was 20 years my senior and I didn’t know better. And it was the first time I had a physical friend I could talk to. who was interested in me. who thought i was pretty. Who flirted with me. and who I think really loved me in his own way.

Only he wasn’t a christian. Which meant he was totally not God’s will for my life. My lack of attraction to him was irrelevant.

but he was so sad every time I tried to break it off with him...and with my depression i was convinced he would go suicidal and then... so we continued for another month. He became convinced I was crazy. I was in mental anguish because I was being pressured physically, and that was the one thing that really really messed with God’s plan....
We did have an agreement, though. But  when i found out he had lied when he promised what he had. That he had spent all this time in direct opposition to what he had promised... i had the strength to do what God wanted me to do.
Leave him.

That brought a new amazing point in my life. Obedience to God has its rewards. Mine was a renewed intensity in the relationship I had with God. I dove into books on purity, women vs men, god’s will, and more. I spent an hour each morning writing into a prayer journal. it was more of a conversation between me and God. it was filled with anguish, hope, petitions and praise. I had started it before breaking up with Mike, and I had attributed it to part of my strength to finally go through with it.

God asked me onto the stage for dance and the worship leader soon after asked me to join the team. Unlike all the others on the team, though. I was not asked to sign a contract of spiritual purity and intent. I also was not given any rules. only, follow God’s leading. his leading was a feeling, an emotion, not a sound. but you can’t miss the feeling that is just Right.

My understanding of God’s will became the deepest desires he places in your life. God’s will for me included dancing, because it had always been a part of me, since I was a child. And when you followed the passions and obviously did not sway off the path, you were doing God’s will.

I called this my second honeymoon. It was perfect. Except i still couldn’t hear his voice. I still wrestled with the idea of marriage. Maybe I was meant to be single. I was content being so. I had no sexual urges that would require me getting married (per Paul). But, every couple months, i felt the deep desire to have a husband and kids. talking with some christian friends, we came to the conclusion that it meant God intended marriage in my future.

and with that conclusion that God was bringing that to light....

Chad called me up on the phone. He was the college group leader i had had a crush on oh so many years ago...

We talked on the phone a couple nights a week for a few weeks.

It was perfectly times with a podcast I was listening to. It said that in order to hear God’s voice, you had to cultivate it. I had been spending the last few years trying to learn how to hear it, and this podcast gave nice specific steps. the most important thing to remember was that God was more powerful than Satan. That we could trust that God wouldn’t let us down any path that wasn’t his will if we were following him. In essence. we pray. listen. trust that what we hear is God. and follow it. with time, it gets easier.

Now most people will tell you that jumping into a relationship would be a bad initial test of such a system. But I don’t do anything by halves.

I prayed. hard.and i was fairly certain God said yes. this was the man he had intended for me to marry.

I was on cloud 9 for about 10 days. when I found out he was moving to missouri.

then a month later, found my world crumbling around me... he was an alcoholic. a bad one. a week later i discovered he had only been out of jail for a couple months. Still, i persisted on.. God promised. And he gives second chances....
We started a business together and I had many nights of intercessory prayer on his behalf. Starting a business with him was a good idea because it nearly drove me to the edge. He became abusive. Emotionally and verbally. He moved to Missouri after a few months and on the phone he often would progress to cursing.... while I was in the deepest agony i had ever encountered in my life. He talked about his hatred of manipulation while he used it on me with a delicate skill. I couldn’t say anything, couldn’t fight back and couldn’t do this.

I needed out...

My relationship with God had suffered because of the extreme mental anguish i was under...

but

this


was

god’s


will.


Chad wanted us to live together before marriage. he seemed to think that we could do so without intercourse, despite the fact that there were physical boundaries already crossed that I was not comfortable with. it was in this area that I found the loophole.


I asked my parents out to eat.and i lined everything up to them. at the beginning, my dad was willing to try to do something to help us work out. when i was done.. he was completely supportive of me breaking it off.

I had found the loophole. God would not ask me to directly break his word. so i had misheard him. He had proved himself, though, he had protected me. He had kept me from doing something that i would regret for the rest of my life.
Chad’s life changed after that. My leaving him had given him the strength to go sober - for real. He has put his life together and is doing pretty good when I last heard from him. I was happy for him, but I kept hearing the parable of the 99 sheep.

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Luke 15:5-7

A few years earlier, I had heard a sermon on this topic which had made me cringe. it suggested that God would sacrifice 99 Christians to save one unsaved person. It never fully fit my idea of a loving God. After all... he loves
everyone.


I cannot count the number of times as a child I begged God to use me. to let me be his living sacrifice. What happened with Chad brought this sermon to mind. I struggled with the idea that God was answering my prayer to be his living sacrifice. that he really had told me to marry Chad, intending me to get close enough to be Chad’s trigger to get back on track for God’s plan for his life. But Chad was a Christian. So, did God love him more than me? Did God have a more powerful purpose in his life and I was just a catalyst? Did God just think I was stronger than I thought I was?

I rebelled against this idea as much as I thought about it. God
loved me. Surely his plan for my life did not include this kind of torture. He was all powerful, he could have saved Chad another way.

So, I figured he must have used the opportunity. That it was my choice, that I chose wrong. That I was trying to hear his voice in my humanness, not out of his Spirit. But in his goodness, he made beauty out of the horror.


Which meant...


I really could not hear God’s voice. I never said as much. That would be a horrible shame to admit, but inside... I knew I couldn’t. So I stopped trying. I adopted a new policy.


Following my gut, the Bible, and my parents and church body. I still prayed, but it had become one sided. I told God things. I even told him how much I hated that I couldn’t hear him. I told him how angry it made me. I didn’t know if it was him or me that I did not trust anymore.


So, I made requests for others and myself. I praised him. I prayed in church over others. I interceded for our nation.


I just stopped expecting him to say anything back. If he wanted to tell me something, he opened doors. Sometimes he spoke through others who actually could hear him. But I accepted my new place.

Mostly.

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The first Chapel in January of 2006 of my Sophomore year at Westmont. That's when I realized the same thing, that I couldn't hear god. I think that was the last time I had a desire to go to Chapel. :( It was ROUGH.

I think I listened to the entire Leftfield Leftism album twenty times through while I laid in bed for hours and hours.

Fortunately, my roommate was excellent and asked me if I needed anything, but otherwise left me alone.

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