I have never been good with prayer.
I feel uncomfortable with it; I always felt like I wasn’t doing it right. I never found a place between expecting God to intervene (which is trust) and expecting God to intervene (which is presumption).
I knew I shouldn’t expect a sense of calm or peace from my prayerful encounters with the Divine (our relationship with God isn’t based on emotions, after all), but I was broken, and I came to him because I was broken, and lonely, and scared, and I wanted his calming presence and his peace. I loved him, I really, truly loved him, and I wanted him there for me, like he promised. He never seemed to be.
I never knew what to make of that.
In any case, prayer became a place of wrestling, not of rest.
I needed a new coping mechanism, not only for dealing with life but for dealing with faith.
When I was a teenager, I struggled with insomnia and depression. There were nights when, I knew, sleep would not happen. There were emotions that, I knew, could not be fixed — just endured.
I turned to music as a way to calm me down and reconfigure my inner dialogue. I would be up at 3 in the morning listening to the same songs on repeat — normally Britt Nicole’s “All This Time” and Kari Jobe’s “Breathe” or “Find You On My Knees.” Some nights they helped me finally fall asleep in the morning’s wee hours, some nights they just kept me company until my mom joined me in the living room for her morning devotions.
They were the manifestation of God’s presence for me. They were my prayer life, in some ways: the words were my words, the music my heartache, but they were also God’s response, too.
All this time, from the first tear cried,
‘Til today’s sunrise,
And every single moment between,
You were there, You were always there.
It was You and I.
You’ve been walking with me all this time.
Those songs that I listened to at 3 in the morning, they still get me.
I’m not sure if I believe them anymore, but I do. Something in me does. At least, as much as I cringe at K-LOVE, I will cry if “All This Time” comes on the radio.
Well, the insomnia and the overwhelming brokenness have been coming back with a vengeance. I’ve been turning to music as a coping mechanism, an alternative to throwing things and screaming into a pillow, both of which, I learned, are not apartment-friendly or effective.
I created a sad song playlist. It’s a bit of a misnomer, because not all the songs on there are sad. In fact, I’m not even sure what unifies them. They run the gamut of anthems like Vienna Tang’s “Level up and love again” to Lawless’s “Dear God, I don’t believe in you” to Audrey Assad’s “Even unto death, I will love You.”
No, I’m not contradictory. I’m conflicted.
But whatever they say about me, these songs help.
Over Christmas, I crawled into the back seat of my car (the best place to cry), turned up the music, and sat there until I sobbed myself to peace and my bum started freezing. I felt much, much better afterward.
I need to do this more often.
What things calm you down when you’re at the end of your rope?