a relationship rather than a religion

In this post, I just want to share a random thought that I had this past week. Sound good? Okay :) Anyone who knows me decently well knows that I am completely enamored with writing and everything about it. I love the way that well-written sentences flow and the satisfaction of using an obscure word correctly. I also love the sensation of a pen or pencil gliding over paper, weaving out your intangible thoughts onto something physical. And this infatuation with writing spills over into everything else in my life.

But anyway, this is what's been on my mind the last couple of days, and I promise that everything I just said about writing is relevant, even if only vaguely. A lot of my closer friends will also know that I don't really pray a lot, or at least, not in the way that most people would think about praying. For the past year and a half, the vast majority of my prayers have been written down in a prayer journal. It just feels more natural to me that way, being able to take a pen and have everything just flow onto paper. And in some ways, it also feels like writing letters, even though that someone that you happen to be writing letters to already knows each and every word that you're writing to them. It feels like writing letters to God.

At the same time, anyone who knows me at all knows that I'm an extrovert. I love people, and I love relationships. So, in the same vein, I also tend to think about different relationships a lot. Something that struck me while I was thinking recently was this: We're supposed to have a relationship with Jesus. That's supposed to be the defining factor for Christians. And at the same time this thought: In any relationship, most people would get annoyed pretty quickly if the other person never let them talk.

How are those two things relevant? Well, for me, I thought of it this way. I think that a lot of times we might talk about praying really hard about any number of things that we might need answers about on any given day. And a lot of the time, we might need answers from God for those things. Here's the only problem: We keep talking to God, asking Him for answers, asking Him to show us what we're supposed to do, and then we don't give Him a chance to respond.

It's occurred to me lately that, sometimes, maybe the reason we're not getting answers from God is that we aren't giving Him a chance to speak. If you think about it in terms of a conversation, then prayer would be us and our turn speaking, but when is it God's turn? I think the answer to this is so simple, that a lot of us (definitely myself included) miss it. I think that a lot of the time, we give God a turn to talk when we open our Bibles. And I know that sounds so cliche and so Sunday school, but I honestly believe that it's also so true.

After all, we refer to the Bible as the Word of God, but then we don't really treat it like that's what it is. I think that regardless of whether we admit it or not, sometimes we treat the Bible like it is just a collection of ancient books that are 2,000 years old, not like a book that God continually speaks through, even today.

I've personally found that, many times, when I'm frustrated that I'm not getting an answer from God when I really need one, it's because I haven't opened my Bible and given Him a chance to speak. And that doesn't necessarily mean that every single verse that you read is going to be directly relevant to your life, but I do strongly believe that when you open your Bible and actually take the time to see what God is trying to say to you, He will speak to you in your mind and your heart through His Words that have been written down for us.

So, anyway, that concludes throwback to youth group. But seriously. God still speaks to people, even in 2015. I think the only thing that makes people think that He doesn't is the fact that sometimes we don't really let Him get a word in.

So, happy Wednesday wonderful people (and maybe my writing bit actually was irrelevant, oh well). Jesus loves you :)

v - d a y

It's been a little while since I last shared anything with you guys. It also happens to be a day that many people, gay Christians included, tend to dread. It's Valentine's Day. I know firsthand how difficult and disappointing this day can be. I mean, I think there's a reason that all of my friends banded together to celebrate Singles Awareness Day in high school in protest to this holiday that just seems to celebrate what everyone has that you don't. It's actually really interesting that the United States has such a fascination with the romantic love aspect of Valentine's Day, because in other countries the focus tends to be on all love, not just romantic love. For example, in many Latin American countries, the holiday is called "El Día del Amor y Amistad" instead, which translates to "The Day of Love and Friendship." But regardless, I definitely understand the loneliness and bitterness that can take over many people come Valentine's Day, especially in this country.

For that reason, instead of a "real" post today, I want to share a prayer with you instead.

Praying, specifically, writing out all my prayers, tends to do a lot more for me than simply praying out loud or in my mind because I can gather all my thoughts and actually express them the way I want to. Another reason for this is that I think it's super important to encourage ourselves and one another on days like this when it honestly does feel like it's us vs. the world. Because seriously, if you think that I'm just having a fantastic day because I happen to be writing this kind of blog, you'd be wrong. After many Valentine's Days spent alone, I'm beginning to think that the whole concept is getting really old too, but I'm determined to be patient and wait on the Lord during these times. So for tonight, I'm staying in, listening to some worship music, reading the Word, and maybe journaling a little to take my mind off of things. After all, we can still take joy in this day, because we are loved by Love Himself. So here's my prayer for myself and for others like me on this 2015 Valentine's Day:

Father of Lights,

I really want to trust You, I really do, but on days like this it feels like that is almost impossible. Today is the day that the whole world is celebrating something that I have never experienced, that some would tell me that I will never get to have, and that's really hard to think about. My soul really does feel crushed by the weight of this world today. So wrap me up in Your love. Remind me that You love me, that I am loved by Love Himself, the One who will never let me go, the One who gave up His very life for me, the One who promises that He will never leave my side no matter what storms of life may come. God, it's been many, many years. You know what I long for and You know what is good for me. You know how hard this day can be, what it feels like to be alone, and You have said in Your word that we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. And I'm thankful for that Lord. So help us trust You. Help us see more of You. Help us to love You more than we ever thought was possible. Help us remember that we are lacking nothing. Help us remember that if we have You, we have everything. We come before You with empty hands, bringing nothing except our broken and weary spirits. We have nothing that we can offer You, O Lord, and yet You love us anyway. You love us despite all of our fears, failures, and mistakes. You love us even when we do not love You and when we turn away and chase after the things of this world. You have loved us for all of eternity, beyond both the beginning and end of time. You have loved us, even after knowing all of the things that we would do to hurt You and to bring You pain in this life. Still, You loved us and still You do. So, remind us of Your great, neverending love for us and let Your presence and spirit fill all of our lives. Remind us that You have promised that You are here with us and that You always will be. Remind us that You have a plan for our lives and that You are a good and gracious Father. Remind us to run to You and seek shelter in Your arms when we feel like we can't take what the world is throwing at us. Remind us that You will protect us and love us always. Remind us that when it seems like no one else will or can love us, that You do. Remind us that You will never leave us. Remind us that You have great, magnificent things in store for us that we can't even begin to see or comprehend yet. Remind us that we are never alone. So, Father of all Lights and all Love, thank You for loving us. Thank You for caring for us. Thank You that You are good and that You are great. Thank You for your unending love.

In the name of Jesus, Amen.

So yeah, think about some of those things for today. Our God hasn't called us to barely scrape by an existence in this world. He has called us to life, and life to the full. So don't stop trusting Him just because you're experiencing another lonely Valentine's Day. Trust me. I've been waiting for the Lord to give me someone for a while now, but that doesn't mean He isn't good. He's just having me wait a little longer that I would like. So always remember that God is Love and that He is good and that you are never alone. Jesus loves you today, so here's a few songs for you. Have a fantastic rest of your Valentine's Day.[embed][/embed]