Prayers to a Foreign God

foreigngod

It’s no secret that the last few weeks have been busy. Between moving and traveling and packing and goodbyes and hellos, there hasn’t been much time in the margins. When life gets busy, I tend to put God on the back burner (and I don’t think I’m alone in this). I’ve spent less and less time reading my Bible and praying and it’s been quite some time since I made my way to a Sunday service.

Much like Anne Lamott, I find that my prayers usually take the form of, “Help! Thanks! Wow!” and there haven’t been many of those moments lately. I guess most of life is probably filled with status quo, especially if we’re not looking for things to be amazed by or adventures to stretch us.

Regardless, I found myself finishing packing and waiting anxiously for my ride to the airport on Thursday morning when I thought, “Ugh, airports and immigration always stress me out. I should pray.

“Padre Dios, te doy gracias por este día. Tu sabes que siento nerviosa por todo que puede ser un problema hoy: vuelos retrasados, la fila en migración, mis maletas tan grandes…”

Hang on.

I have never prayed in Spanish before, at least, not of my own accord. I’ve prayed along with the pastor in church and with other teachers at school, but Spanish words have never come out of my mouth during prayer, and I certainly have never prayed in Spanish by myself.

At first I thought it was a sign of fluency, like dreaming in Spanish or thinking in Spanish. But I don’t think that’s it. I think I prayed in Spanish because God felt foreign.

Speaking Spanish in most contexts is still a little stressful for me. If possible, I run through everything I’m going to say in my head before it comes out of my mouth, which then makes continuing the conversation a very slow process. I say, “What?” a lot and mostly I hope people understand enough of what I said that they’ll do what I need them to do without asking me any more questions or attempting to make conversation at all.

That’s what my relationship with God has become.

Mostly I hope God will do what I want without asking anything of me or involving himself in my life in any other way.

I’d love to say that I recognized this and spent my flight reading the three Bibles packed in my carry-on (too heavy for the checked bags) and spending some time praying in English, but instead I spent most of the flight napping and playing 2048.

When I landed safely in the US, I found myself praying in Spanish again that the lines would be short and easy.

Sometimes God hits me over the head with something and I can still choose to ignore him.

If I’ve learned any Spanish this year or had any comfort in Mexico it has been in making the uncomfortable familiar. The first five times you try to order in Spanish, you’re bound to mess it up or completely misunderstand when the waiter asks what kind of dressing you want. But by the fifteenth time you go out to eat, it’s not stressful anymore (and you don’t have to preplan your words).

 

So I’m going to be leaving some margins in my life this summer. I’m working on less internet and more love and putting God back on the agenda. I’m working on listening to the still small voice as well as the booming knocks to the head through nature and relationships and prayer.

I’m looking for things to amaze me and adventures to stretch me, and I know I will find God there.

And today I’m praying that the God who is Emmanuel would be as present and familiar to me this summer as I am to Him.

 

 

 

 

Today I’m driving from Phoenix to LA with my grandparents who have been spoiling me this week. We’ll be picking up with some more guest posts in our WanderFull Life series next week as I trek from LA to NY. Thanks for being so welcoming to Whitney with her fabulous post this week! You guys really are my favorite part of the internet. 

Photo by Dani Alvarez, via flickr. 

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