When we “give up” on someone important to us it is (almost) never in a flash – an instant – a hundredth of a second event. It is (almost always) a slow creeping thing. A trying, a realisation of trying, trying some more, a realisation of trying some more, and so on. And we change as well as “them”. Whatever the change in our relationship that caused me to need to try in the first place – that changes both me and the other. And maybe someway further down that realisation and change – when nothing “changes” – we give up.
That hurts. Each and every time that hurts. I know of some who look at relationships and question “is it me?” I know of some who look at relationships and wonder why they always attract the “wrong ones”. And I see a lot of those who begin a relationship and then change – the person they were besotted by is not who they were – the person they were besotted by has become less. Not enough for the investment of more time, interest and money. Not any longer.
That hurts. (almost) Every relationship is an investment of self. Of that which we hold dear. That which we give freely so long as “they” give back. And that we may begin to believe is me being “taken” rather than reciprocated. That we may begin to believe is me being “wasted” rather than appreciated. Because relationships are conditional until they are not. They either become unconditional. Or they remain conditional – remain static – remain fragile and break easily (because lust rarely lasts).
That hurts. Especially as the usual pattern is that one person hasn’t “given up” – but the other has. That one avoids speaking to the other – really talking which requires really listening. Not just for the words – but beyond the words. When one tolerates the other. When one sacrifices their very “self” for the other and yet – even that is not enough. When one has given up – and will not see any good in the other – refuses to see any good – and begins to invest all their energy in NOT seeing any good (but the “benefits” are convenient enough to continue taking – for now).
“Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” “ Luke 18:1-8
I have looked at these verses many times. And each time I have asked God: “Are you really the judge who does not care?” And God never answers me.
This morning I asked Him the same thing, And this morning He answered.
“Paul this is a parable about praying – something else you struggle with – the label of “this is how you MUST pray”. I have no such requirements. I desire conversation. Prayer can be eyes shut/eyes open – kneeling down/sitting up – in church/in your home – right now as in our “facetime” – and also just chugging through the day – watching the world go by – when at work – with your family – in times of need and in times of plenty. I desire this conversation for one simple reason. Prayer changes you.”
I was hoping for a longer bunch of words – but that was it. And yet it was enough. I am changed.
So the words which follow is me (and Him). The word which follow is me exploring what this change means. Here we go.
The widow. She asks. She is refused. She asks. She is refused. She is changed. Question of the parable. Who is God – the judge of the widow? This morning I do not see God as the judge. I see me as the judge. This morning I see God as the widow. The one who asks. The one who is ignored by me. This morning I see me as the judge – the one who is giving up – the one who was taught to pray when told to. The one who has been taught that “chattering away to God” is not really praying – that real praying is eyes shut, hands together, with a shopping list of unworthiness, and a shopping list of requests, a shopping list of “praise and adoration”, and a shopping list of “intercession stuff”.
And the “shopping lists” get longer and longer the more I “worship God” – and praying becomes work – becomes a duty – becomes distancing. And that hurts. Being “distanced” by doing what you have been taught – by “how to pray” – by “this is how you speak to God”. And it becomes a duty, it becomes distancing. Now THAT really hurts.
And THAT hurt changes me. That causes me to see prayer as investment and return … How many did He say yes to (which means how many did He answer)? And which makes the rest all “those He ignored”. Which does make God the judge in these verses. And does make me the widow. And does make God uncaring and judgemental. And does make me the un-heard and unloved. And that changes me. Keeps me conditional.
“There comes a point in every relationship where you both settle for “conditional love” and think this is as good as it gets. And you may “love” each other (until something changes – or something better comes along – or until one of you gives up). Or – you both reach “unconditional love”. A love where others see the outside (as always) and wonder why they do not see the evidence of “conditional love”: the spark – the fire – that “evidence of love” without mystery. So they assume your love for me has dimmed. They assume that my love for you can be counted by my “answered prayer requests”. And – illogically – they excuse me for my “unanswered prayer requests”. They call that “the mystery of God”!
The mystery of “God” … really?
If love is always the answer – and it is for each as much for each – across time and across “logic” – across so much you cannot yet see or know (only because you use so little of what you have already). Then “the mystery of God” is merely a convenience. It saves you so much time and understanding. It keeps things at the “evidence” level. It keep things conditional. Just like that “judge” – who had given up on himself. On his place in this beautiful world. On his very self to the world.
I never give up. Prayer changes YOU. And at some point YOU will either find unconditional love with me, or YOU will settle for conditional love, or YOU may eventually give up.
And now to something you have pondered ever since you began writing these “posts” … Why do I invite you to drop these “pebbles” we know as blog posts?
And even though you have never known you just “do” . That is unconditional love. And how will you anyone know the difference between conditional and unconditional love? How will any of you ever think to ever reach beyond that – ever think it is even okay (even “desirable”) – to get this personal? Look at how you are taught. Look at how you worship.
But you write of that love. You write of how it is. You write without condition (and I feel your squirming of discomfort – that this is what we only say to each other privately). You write of a love beyond conditional. A love many do not “get” – a love many never think can be theirs – that should be theirs … I am “God” after all – I need to be revered!
But you write without condition. And that might just allow one other to think “this love is possible for me!” (and you can stop squirming now – I have done!) 🙂
Prayer has changed YOU. Chattering and listening “prayer” changes you. “Eyes shut prayer” changes you. Because however “prayer” is “taught” or “done” … If it is not real – if it does not change YOU …
YOU are conditional with me.”