I am a writer. This much I know.
I've been told since as early as I can remember that I have wisdom beyond my years. I never knew that wisdom, like most things, must be activated. I spent all this time writing about staying, leaving, and letting go. I wish I knew back then that just because you have an epiphany doesn't mean you've learned the lesson. Just because you have a great thought doesn't mean you've gone out and lived it.
I want to be the kind of person who walks out what she talks about, not the other way around. Especially today, it's incredibly easy to be unintentionally deceptive with the world.
Last summer I posted all these photos on Instagram of my garden and I. It gave off the illusion that I was watering, weeding, and planting new things all the time. In reality, the garden was suffering from the Georgia heat and dying by the day. I like the idea of glamorizing the garden rather than taking care of it.
Just because you've talked about gardening doesn't actually mean you've watered something. Just because you talk about hard work doesn't mean you're actually doing it.
So I wrote for a long time about hearing God speak without ever hearing Him speak. I had brief moments of God whispers. I had feelings stirring in my gut that I was making a right decision. But I wrote so much about His voice as if I was hearing it constantly, as if God and I were in a perpetual stream of dialogue. In actuality, I was talking about the voice of God in the morning but listening to lies for the rest of the day.
I remember this one time at the very beginning of the fight with my second depression. I'd taken a trip with my friend Nia and came home exhausted but wired. It wasn't the road trip we were planning on. She'd tried to give me sleeping pills when we got back to her place because I was in so much pain. I just remember wanting to sleep so badly but nothing would work.
When she drove me home I nearly collapsed on the floor in front of my roommate and her boyfriend.
"I need prayer," I said to them. "I am sorry to crash into this moment but I need prayer."
I didn't know what else to do. I felt like I was fighting a war inside of myself without any weapons. I was getting this serious beating from the depression and prayer was my last option.
My roommate's boyfriend sat me down on the couch between them. He put one of his hands on my forehead and started to pray.
I just remember him saying, "Come on, Hannah. You know his voice. You know his voice. You are his sheep, you know his voice."
I didn't know his voice though. I knew how to listen to lies. I didn't know how to say, "This voice that tells me I am unworthy of love and goodness is not the voice of God."
I stood in a sanctuary last night listening to a band that reminds me of warm rooms soaked in twinkle lights and the moment you step out into the California heat. When it hits you, the thick air wraps you in tight, holds you closer, and does not spit you out until the sun rests behind the buildings at the end of the day.
The woman with the guitar on the stage was speaking about God's voice. She mentioned how in John it says that the sheep know His Voice. They listen. They follow.
I think the biggest problem we face today is that there is no quiet. There is much time to develop a voice for ourselves. There is little time to hear the voice of someone else.
There is no peace. There is no easy way to rip yourself from the folds of culture and just be still. We are on 24/7. We wake up to our phones. We go to sleep to the glow of the screen. We say we want to hear the voice of God but we don't ever shove our own thoughts into a corner and demand them to be still so that something bigger can come in and wash the dirt away.
"So when you listen, God speaks?"
A friend asked me this question last week and I had to be bold enough to answer. I said yes. You don't always hear this loud voice. It's rarely the heavens parting and a booming thunder coming down upon you. It's more like little fragments. It's these brief reminders. It's these nudges to go somewhere in the bible and plant there.
I didn't know that I would need to entrench myself in the scriptures to understand the way He speaks. That is the thing though, I think God has his own language. I must be dedicated to God's language if I ever hope to translate.
I didn't know how to stop moving. I didn't know how to listen. It was the biggest gap in my own prayer life up until this past year. I always just thought prayer was rattling off a to-do list to God. I thought prayer was about me being vocal and him being, well, God.
I don't fault myself for this. I actually never was taught to do anything but talk to God. No one ever sat me down and said, "Girl, prayer is just as much about listening as it is about word vomiting. Prayer is your direct line to God. If you want to hear from God then come prepared to listen."
I told her it took a while for me to listen to the voice of God. Even now, I have to discern whether I am hearing from God or hearing my own voice. I told her the more time you spend with someone, the more you get to know them. You understand whether they are good or bad. You can start to predict their reactions.
How is it not the same way for God? How can I want a personal relationship with God but never imagine that He might be personable and good to me?
:: A PRAYER YOU CAN STEAL ::
God, move me out of the way and insert yourself in the places I want to take up space in. Push out the lies and infuse me with your voice and your truth. Train me to open up my ears. Train me to push out distractions. Train me to hear you and to know that you are good.