I love God. I love the bible. I love church. But I didn't always live my life with an emphasis on religion or spiritualism. I didn't always find peace in prayer. It wasn't until my problems became big enough to lead me there that I saw the power it had in my life. It wasn't until adulthood that I understood the power of God and the power of prayer.
Let me first calm your nerves by assuring you that by no means do I intend to come off as a saint. I am not perfect. Far from it. I say shit and fuck on a regular basis. I was baptized two years ago and I'm pretty sure I became tainted as soon as I left the church. Point is, I have sinned, have put others before God and have done wrong to some in my past, I'm sure. But the way I live my life, and the way I believe I've always (unknowingly) lived my life, is with good intentions and with a Godly spirit.
By that, I mean, I have always lived my life as if God was the only one watching. I was raised to treat others how I want to be treated, raised to always see the good in others and to be a helper to anyone in need. That's just always been my nature.
But even when you live your life with the greatest intentions, obstacles and challenges creep in. They are inevitable. No one is holy enough to never have problems. No one is such a saint that he or she doesn't experience pain, fear or worry. Everyone on this earth can and will go through some things that cause them to question God ... that cause them to question their purpose. I know this because I am one of those people.
I had experienced a lot of pain. A lot of internal pain that only my writings have been able to attempt to explain to the world. I've experienced heartbreak and betrayal on several levels and that led me to depression and anxiety. When I lived in Los Angeles, California, I reached an all-time low. I wasn't sad. I wasn't angry. I was numb. So numb that I forgot who I was. I forgot what I liked, what I disliked, what I needed, what I wanted. I didn't know up from down, right from wrong. I was depressed. I was what some may believe to be on the verge of suicidal. I didn't have purpose. I didn't have motivation. I didn't have anything ... or at least, that's what I believed at the time.
What I did have was an amazing family, a few good friends and what we all seem to take for granted on a regular basis ... I had God.
My mom would encourage me to pray through my problems, and if you know anything about being depressed, when you feel that numb, nothing anyone says or does will make you feel better.
"Just ask God for guidance," my mom would say. "I did, Mom. It doesn't work," I'd reply.
But the truth is, when done correctly, it DOES work.
What I had to understand was that just because you go through the motions of praying, just because you say you believe in God, just because you do all the christian-like things on the surface doesn't mean your facade of pretending to believe what you are saying will miraculously outwit the devil. It takes work. It takes dedication. It takes discipline. It takes thick skin, and it takes real feeling and emotion.
So I had to find a way to feel emotion through my depression, which felt damn near impossible. But my situation, my pain, my problem became so significant that the only option I had left was to give it to God.
So, I started by writing down my problems and that eventually led me to real feelings. Writing has been the only thing consistent in my life since I was a child. I used to write poems and songs in grade school. I went to college for journalism for goodness sake. Writing was in my blood. So I started by writing down things that would lead me to feel emotion again. I was slowly learning that prayer without emotion is just words. When I had tears behind my prayers, I got more specific. I wrote down sad memories, happy memories, wishes, hopes and dreams. Those little writings became the beginning of overcoming anxiety and depression, but more importantly, became the beginning of building my personal relationship with God.
When I wrote down what I thought were problems, I began to realize that they were actually pieces of the puzzle to my future answered prayers, and also, much less of a problem than I had originally believed.
I prayed for a romantic relationship, so God would send me all these douche bags to show me what I DIDN'T want in a relationship so that when the love of my life, James Fowler, walked into my life, I would be 100% certain that he is what I DID and DO want.
I prayed for health, so God would send me all these experiences to strengthen my willpower, like opportunities to get hammered with my friends which would lead to binge eating so that I could number one, have the discipline to say no, and number two, to show me how good it feels to be sober and follow a regimented, healthy meal plan, motivating me to maintain a healthier lifestyle.
I prayed for love in all areas of my life, (not just romantic) so God would send me all these people who needed love so I could learn what love really is and that everyone, no matter how terrible they may be or what bad experiences they may have been through, needs love ... and when you give it, even to those who aren't deserving, you are showing God that you ARE deserving.
I prayed for happiness, so God would send me lots of sadness so that the smallest little joys of the world, like sunny days and butterflies, would excite me and so that I would appreciate my well-being above all else.
I prayed for lots of things, and time and time again, while I thought God wasn't listening, he was. He was sending me every single thing I needed in order to understand that no matter how big our problems may seem, or how uncertain our future appears, he's got our backs. He showed me that when you have a problem big enough to lead you to prayer, and you commit to that prayer, he will guide you through it.
I pray daily. I thank God for my blessings every morning, either quietly to myself or by writing them down in my grateful journal. Like I said above, I am not perfect, so there are days where I don't put him first and get specific with what I'm grateful for. But on those days that I do ... on those days that I remember to put God first ... those are the days that I cherish most because it gives me so much peace knowing that when I feel deep inside my desire for his presence in my life, my every need will be met, every fear will be diminished and every hope will be fulfilled.
Most recently, I prayed for a man to seek God and that through seeking God, he would find me. I also prayed for more time with whoever that man may be because never in my life had I ever had a boyfriend in the same state I lived in. That was about six months ago.
One day, about four months ago, I walked into the post office, and there was the man for me.
The photo above shows James wearing a Saints bracelet I had blessed by Deacon Rusty Skinner at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church in Delray Beach nearly two years ago. He blessed the bracelet to be a protector to anyone wearing it. I gave it to James when we first started dating and in mid-October when he came face to face with a life-altering circumstance, he put it on. He then put the bracelet around his gear shift in his car and now it's with him every day.
I don't know why God does the things he does, but when I met James, he already had a relationship with God. He already had his prayers answered. Now, besides showing me how much he respects my relationship with God by wearing the bracelet, he is showing me how much he respects his relationship with him, too. Ever since he put that bracelet on, he has unintentionally confirmed that he is in fact the man I had been praying for. He is the man for me. He is the man who God is giving me more time with through this situation we are going through. He is the man seeking God through his problems now, and who sought God before and found me.
We both have learned that when you seek God, when you place an emphasis on having faith and trusting Him, instead of feeling fear and worry about your problems, all will be OK.
To commit yourself to your prayers, follow this self-help guide for the next 30 days and watch your life change. At the very least, you will find an outlet for your pain and hopefully, some peace in knowing you don't and won't ever have to solve a problem by yourself ever again. He's got you.
- Write down your problems until you have emotion tied to them.
- Get specific with what you need. (Ex: loyalty, confidence, peace of mind, etc.)
- Express gratitude at least once a day.
- Give it to God. (Tell God specifically what you need from #2 and feel it with every emotion you created in #1.)
- Be consistent with your efforts, be patient with the timing and watch what happens.