or the word that deals gently with you?
My reading list seems sparse this month. As I was looking at books for Lent, two titles caught my attention. One a familiar friend, the other a new acquaintance. Both books encourage writing as a way of prayer.
Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy Through Written Prayer (Lynn D. Morrissey)
This first book is beautiful like its author. I’ve read it once before, and consider Lynn a dear friend and person who has fueled my passion for journaling.
This book is more than a guide to writing your prayers to God, it is an invitation to rekindle your relationship with God as the Lover of our Souls. As I enter the pages and the stories of Lynn’s adventures with God, as well as her struggles, my heart finds rest and revival at the same time. My imagination is drawn to the garden of my soul, and I long to tarry in the presence of our Savior.
Today this line, prompted a prayer of examen: “Naming our grief is the first step toward healing.” That one sentence opened up a floodgate of griefs that I have been ignoring, afraid to name them for fear of being consumed by grief. The crazy thing is that the more I try not to name my griefs, the more they come out in anger and despair.
In my journal, I wrote: “My grief is . . . regret, dismay, denied, unrealistic, unnameable, transitional, disappointment based on sin, sorrow, sickness, separation and simple doubts about God’s goodness.” This simple act of confession brought to light what troubles me. I don’t have solutions, but expressing these on paper was the first step of reaching out to God for healing and comfort.
Writing to God: 40 Days of Praying With My Pen (Rachel G. Hackenberg)
I love the simplicity of this book. The prayers recorded in this book are poetic. They have inspired me to write poem prayers. Writing poetry takes my raging thoughts and distills them down into concise, raw expressions. When I read Rachel’s poem prayers and my own, I am drawn to some phrase that feeds my soul in the moment.
On the facing page of each prayer, she offers a prompt to read a Scripture and to contemplate a topic, which spurs me on to more written expressions of my heart.
In the poem, Nighttime Prayer, she explores her fear of the dark, which leads to her real fear–the fear of not being in control or able to stave off disaster that might come in the middle of the night. Early in the morning she laments, “Wide-eyed in case the uncontrollable, unthinkable happens/So I stay awake/Stay distracted/Determined not to be caught off guard by the night.”
Her prayer prompt for this entry explores fear: “Write a prayer about fear, and let the presence and encouragement of God surround you with holy comfort.”
Combining this reading with the quote from Love Letters about healing and grief, I noticed a connection between grief and fear.
I wrote: “My fear is . . . bound up in my grief. I fear failure, disappointing others, not keeping up, other people’s opinion of me, giving up on life, disappointing others’ expectations of me. I am afraid of depression, cancer, pain, failure, rejection, hope, renewal, new paths, success, criticism, praise, pride, the future, boredom, apathy, cynicism, nothingness, death, living, making mistakes. . .”
These confessions were random, yet real. Something about confessing these on paper enlarges my perspective.
My conclusion today was that I am powerless . . . and that’s a good thing to know and believe, because then I cry out, “I need you, Lord Jesus!”
And He comforts me.