Truth: Consumed

Recently, I had a friend complain to me because I didn’t respond to her text message, and I had to be honest in saying that it got lost in the shuffle.  It’s a terrible excuse,but it’s the truth.  I have so many messages coming at me throughout the course of the day that I can read something, tell myself I’ll respond later, and then forget about it.  Because another message from someone else has come in.  And then another one.  And another.

I check Facebook and my three email accounts at least 20times a day.  I have Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Hangouts, Voice, and text messages calling out for me throughout the day.  A ‘ping’ here, a flash there – Sheth! Look at these messages now!  It’s urgent!  If I don’t reply immediately, my phone gently reminds me every 5 minutes that there’s someone awaiting my response.  Sheth! LOOOOOOK!

While this should make me feel important and needed – all these people and apps demanding my attention – it’s to the point that they’re nearly ruling my life.  These little applications have surreptitiously taken over how I live my life…truthfully, I feel like a slave to my phone.

I don’t do much of anything on Facebook.  I’ll post links to my blog, maybe make a humorous observation (they’re humorous to me), or maybe put up a photo of nature or my goofy face. This happens once, maybe twice, a week. The rest of the time I’m scrolling through gobbledygook (I don’t even ‘like’ that many things).  My time spent on other websites and apps consists of roughly the same effort – consuming and being consumed, but not contributing.

I definitely need to scroll through Facebook for the 14thtime today, but I don’t have the time to work on my world religions final.  I can check my burner email address four or five times today, but my schedule is packed to where I can’t possibly read a bit for my bible content exam.

I can reply to text messages and snaps a hundred times today,but I definitely don’t have time to make it to chapel.  I have to browse through r/dankchristianmemes for at least an hour, but I can’t possibly crack open the Bible because I don’t have the time.

How did my priorities flip like this?  When did it become so normal for me to be okay with this little screen taking up a large chunk of my time?  Why am I okay with doing this nonsense day after day?  It’s frustrating and discouraging, and still, I keep going back for more.

Honestly, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  I’m half-tempted to delete some of them permanently.  I’m half-tempted to take a break from some of them.  I’m half-tempted to chuck my phone into the creek and walk away from it all.  Why do I do this?  Why do I feel like I need to check, to talk, to respond, to communicate, to consume?

I think it would do me some good to delete a few apps and have less communication points.  It would be useful for me to have less options, less ways, less information to get lost in.  It would be so nice to not have to feel the need to communicate…and look…and take in.  Maybe I should give myself the gift of deletion for Christmas and get rid of the things that are unnecessarily consuming me.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Communication Breakdown.

My Brain-and-Mouth connection doesn’t always work right.  Usually Mouth gets scared:

Brain: Okay Mouth…let’s say this: “I don’t feel like that’s a good idea for you, Bill!”
Mouth: Something is coming from Brain, but I can’t quite make it out.  Something about what Bill is about to do…I think I’m supposed to warn him not to do this, but I’m not sure.  I’m not going to say anything and see what happens…
Me: …

Sometimes, though, Mouth decides it’s best to go off script:

Brain: Okay Mouth…let’s say this: “I don’t feel like that’s a good idea for you, Bill!”
Mouth: That won’t get the point across, Brain.  We’re going to say this…
Me: “Bill, that’s stupid.  This is stupid.  You’re stupid.”

While I can try to blame my communication breakdowns on this faulty connection, the truth is that sometimes I just say the wrong things.  I don’t try to say the wrong things, but somehow they just come out.  What I’m thinking isn’t always expressed very well.  Sometimes I’m guilty of poor communication.

Recently I got into a heated discussion with my girlfriend over a benign topic.  She asked my opinion on her creation of a Facebook group and who should be invited to join.  She said one thing.  I heard something else.  I replied with a different thing.  She heard something else.  And that was it – we were arguing.  And then both of us stopped the discussion by refusing to talk about it, “Ugh…whatever.”


This small communication breakdown became a huge source of tension for us and our relationship.  And here’s what was stupid about our argument: we were actually talking about the same thing.  We both completely agreed with one another, but we weren’t able to communicate it well enough for the other to understand, so we sat in bitterly-angry silence.

On this day, the “Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November,” millions across the nation are going to vote on a myriad of issues and candidates.  While the past few months (and years) have been filled with screaming matches, accusations, angry silences, and many an “Ugh…whatever”, I can’t help but wonder how much of this has been caused by a lack of good communication.  I wonder how many people have heard one thing but perceived it as something else.  I wonder how many have said something but didn’t mean it that way.  I wonder whether we really disagree this much, or we just don’t communicate well enough.  Are we really this divided, or are we just not communicating well?  [I fully acknowledge that some politicians – on both sides – have said some pretty crazy things that make me ashamed and discouraged.  This is not poor communication; it is poor judgement, poor morals, and poor ethics]

In all the books and seminars on relationships I’ve read and attended, the one thing that is always mentioned as being key to successful relationships (romantic or platonic) is good communication.  This small thing that we rarely think about is huge!  How much different would my life be if I were a better communicator?  How much better would the world be if we were able to communicate well AND listen well?  How much closer would we be to the Kingdom of God if we were able to speak more effectively?

My friends, may we have a fully functioning Brain-and-Mouth connection.  May we all work towards better communication, and God, may we be more compassionate and forgiving when we all fail at this.

much love. sheth.


P.S. – here’s a great article on these breakdowns and how we can prevent them

Truth: A Lone.

As I was growing up in the 1980’s and 90’s both of my parents held down jobs to raise our family in the unsteady economy.  My mom often worked a normal eight to five job in an office while my dad, a self-employed contractor, had a varying schedule and could be gone for eight hours a day or weeks at a time.  Because of my parents’ work schedules, more often than not my brother and I would arrive to an empty house and had to fend for ourselves with the television as our supervisor.

The six channels we could pull in via the antenna provided my brother and I with more than enough entertainment.  We would watch re-runs of Knight Rider, Magnum P.I., The Greatest American Hero, The Incredible Hulk, and Highway to Heaven.  The main characters were individuals going through life alone while fighting evil corporations, reuniting families, and making a small difference in the world.

As an introvert, I admire these individuals for being the lonesome drifters that they were.  Being alone is attractive to me because I have no one to answer to, I have no one depending on me, I have no one to disappoint me and I won’t disappoint anyone else.  I can go at my own pace, do what I want, and not answer to anyone.  As I grew up, I suppose I took these lessons I saw to heart, and while I didn’t drift too often, I was good at the lonesome part.  I tended to keep to myself and live life alone.

There are times when being alone can become lonely, and there have been more than a few times in my life when I have needed friends or, at the very least, an extra pair of hands to help me.  I needed friends when I was battling depression, when my grandma passed away, and on more than one lonely Friday night.  I needed people when I was leading twenty-two middle and high school students on a youth retreat and when I was discerning my call to seminary.  While it’s one thing to be an introvert, it’s another thing to try to be some ill-conceived lonesome drifter.

While a person can do many things alone, it’s not always the best road to take, and even my T.V. heroes had sidekicks.  Despite my childish thinking, those lonesome drifters always had someone they could lean on, depend on, and they knew that they were not completely alone.   That’s the lesson I should have taken from my hours of viewing: we can’t do things alone and do them well.


I need others.  It’s difficult for me to admit this, but it’s the truth.  I need people to help me with life.  I need people to keep me accountable.  I need people to encourage me.  I need people to challenge me.   Without people around me to prod me on I become still and stagnant, and I begin to deteriorate.  I need people to do life with me and help me become the best me I can be.

We need one another, and there’s no way to make it in this world.  I hope and pray that we all can find our sidekicks, our compadres – the Mark Gordon to our Jonathan Smith.  May God open our eyes, clear our minds, and make room in our hearts for others to join us on this life’s journey.  And may we look for others to join with and make this journey a little less lonesome.

much love. sheth.

Truth: We’re Both Right.

My Facebook friend list is a crazy mix of people that I love.  There are the politically conservative and religiously liberal, there are libertarians, a few anarchists, a hippie or two, a few yoga instructors and plenty of cowboys.  There’s some who love their kids, some who treat their pets as kids, and some who don’t like kids at all.  There’s retirees, teens who have yet to start working, a few unemployed, some who stay at home while their partners work, and a lot who have a regular job…or two…or three.  There are Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Catholics, Methodists, Non-Denoms, Atheists, Pentecostals, and Agnostics.  When I get on Facebook I have the opportunity to see a veritable cross-section of America.

When something ‘big’ happens in the world (terrorists, politics, sports, church) I am blessed to see all sides of the story – those who are for it and against it; those rooting for their home team while cursing the away team; those standing with and those opposing against.  I see arguments that are fact-based, faith-based, emotionally-based, and the occasional pot-stirrer who just wants to make everyone upset.

I’ve often wondered what it would be like if my Facebook friends ended up in the same room together because it’s such a varied list of people, but my wondering often turns into anxiety because I don’t know if it would be such a great idea.  This side opposes that side; that group hates this group; this person is holding a 20 year-old grudge against that person; I’m right and you’re all wrong.

And they all talk a big game on Facebook – ‘I’d show those damn snowflakes what real oppression is’; ‘If I see him again, I’m going to punch him in the face’; ‘Those people have no idea what they’re doing to me and my family.’  If they all got together in a ballroom at the Hilton, I’m afraid the niceties would end and all hell would break loose in about 38 seconds.

I think we’re all pretty angry with each other.  We’re angry for both valid and invalid reasons.  We’re angry because the other isn’t of the same mindset as we are.  We’re angry because we’re losing things that are important to us.  We’re angry because we’ve missed out on things for so long.  We’re angry because others are suffering, others are winning, others are inflicting harm.  We’re angry because we’re seeing a few lines of text on the screen and assuming the rest of the story.

Five years ago I don’t think I’d have been this reluctant to bring all these people together – not because my list of friends has changed, but because my friends have changed (as have I).  There was a time when we could disagree online and in person, but still treat one another with respect and graciousness.

I think we’ve blurred the lines between online interactions and real-world interactions, sacrificing civility in the process.  We no longer listen before we speak.  We no longer discuss things.  We are no longer flexible in our politics, theologies, or standards.  We can’t not say something.  We assume, we fill in the story, we take sides before knowing the facts.  We have allowed the meaning of ‘fact’ to be redefined.  We have drawn our battle lines, made our teams, and have set our feet firmly on the ground that we believe to be right (and to hell with those who don’t agree with us).


I know how to fix this problem and make us all more loving, civil, and nicer to one another.  It’s fixed by doing it.  We need to recognize that each one of us is important, each one of us is valid, and we are together on this planet.  Truthfully, we know this and we know how to do this.  We all have it in us to be better to one another, to be more loving to one another, to be nicer to one another.  There’s no magic formula, no three-step process, no seminar that needs to be attended before we can do it.  We know how to be better than we are – we need to act on our knowledge.

The fighting, arguing, and yelling will only make the rifts between us grow wider and deeper.  Being uncivil because they’re being uncivil will only make it worse.  By all means, disagree with one another!  Just don’t be an ass in the process.  Hold on to your beliefs, but don’t be afraid to let go of them if you need to.  Keep an open mind, but make sure you filter what’s going into it.  Understand others.  Empathize with them.  Think before you speak or type.  Get off social media and have actual discussions with people.  Have conversations with people you disagree with face-to-face.  Be kind.  Be civil.  Be nice.  Be loving.  Be vulnerable.  Be the other.

May we understand who they are, who we are, and that we are all in this thing together.  May we converse more, love more, and understand more.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Speaking.

This past week I’ve written a sermon, an article for the school newsletter, a reflection paper on an interview I did, replied to countless emails, edited two papers for other students, started reviewing a friend’s sermon, am about to write a paper on a passage from the book of Mark, and have one other paper to write by Friday.  Last year I was begging for more opportunities to write.  This year I’m drowning in opportunities.

And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I find great freedom in writing because I don’t always use my voice.  One of the reasons is because I’m one of those people who mulls things over and contemplates…I chew on them for a while…then I decide whether or not to say anything.  One of the other reasons is because I don’t always feel my voice is of any importance.  When I’m in a discussion I don’t always say what needs to be said; sometimes this is good, but other times I have known I needed to speak but never did, and reaped the consequences of it.

Speaking up when it’s needed is necessary – I can recall many times on the playground as a child when I should have stood up for myself or my friends.  I can recall being in conversations with someone who was clearly in the wrong but allowed them to think they were right because I didn’t want to argue.  I’ve been in relationships where I haven’t expressed my feelings, choosing to bottle them up instead, and allowed the relationship to abuse me and who I was.

There are times when people don’t have a voice, or can’t speak up when they need to do so.  There are abused spouses who are afraid to speak for fear of the retributions.  There are the immigrants who don’t know the local language and instead suffer in silence.  There are the children who don’t know how to express what they’re feeling or experiencing.  There are the assaulted who are unsure of where to report their attack.  Countless people with things to say and no where (or not knowing where) to say them.

We are living in a time where it’s more important to get out our words, talk over one another, and speak before being spoken to, instead of closing our mouths and opening our ears.  We may allow the other to speak, but how often do we actually hear the words they are saying?  We might give someone across the table (or the internet) a chance to say something, but do we put the brakes on our mind to attentively and intentionally listen to the words the other is saying?

Perhaps we should do less talking, less writing, less proclaiming, and allow those who have not been given the opportunity to do so, to speak.  But we must do more than this – we must encourage those who have been holding back to say something; we must give them safe places and warm occasions to say what they have been wanting to say.  Most importantly, though, we must close our mouths and open our hearts to the words the other will speak.

They need to speak, and we need to hear.  God, give us all strength – to speak if we need to speak, and to hear if we need to hear.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Assault.

I’ve been watching and listening to the news concerning the progress of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and all the ‘stuff’ surrounding it, and it’s caused me to think about some ‘stuff’ in my own life. Hearing Christine Blasey Ford state that she’s been sexually assaulted (and other men’s actions – from Washington D.C. powers, to Hollywood elites, to the countless men in church leadership) has given me reason enough to stop and take a long, hard look at my own life and the way I treat(ed) women.

I’ve been asking myself a few questions about the whole ordeal: if I were placed in Kavanaugh’s shoes, would any controversial issues from my past come out? This question terrifies me (and probably you) because no one likes to have their lives scrutinized; no one likes to face tough questions regarding what they may or may not have done in the past.

But this question also terrifies me because I am not sure who or what issues would come up. While I’ve maintained control of my faculties and have been aware of what I have said and done in my life, I’m not overly confident that I’ve always lived my life above reproach.

I’ll confess that in my life I’ve cat-called, I’ve told jokes in poor taste, I’ve leered – I’m willing to admit to these assaults. But I wonder if I’ve done other things that have made women feel uncomfortable. Have I inadvertently touched someone inappropriately? Have I gone too far with a woman when she didn’t want to? Did I use my position of power to get something from a woman? Have I caused a woman to feel uncomfortable around me? While I can’t explicitly recall specific moments when I have done these things, did I ever do any of them without my realizing?

This is what terrifies me the most – my not knowing if I’ve done harm to women. I want people – both women and men – to feel safe and comfortable around me, but have I messed up at some point in my life? Have I ever done something I shouldn’t have?

Personally, I’m learning from these allegations of assault, misconduct, and rape, and that is a good thing. I’m learning that I need to be more active in choosing my words and actions – not out of fear that it might come back to bite me in the ass – but because what I may think is acceptable may not be so for the other. I’m learning that what was once accepted may not be accepted now, and I must continually work to change my behaviors. I’m learning that I must be proactive in changing my behaviors and societal norms instead of waiting for women to come out and say that something is wrong.

I’m learning that women don’t always feel safe around men and that I need to work to change this – not by telling women they can be safe, but by helping other men to change their behaviors. I need to be with other men and guide them in living a good life that respects, honors, and upholds women as God’s beloved.

I’m learning what these words ‘above reproach’ truly mean: it’s not that I need to live a life void of sin (I can’t do that), but that I need to live a life that sets a high standard for myself. I need to be a good model for others in the church (and outside of it) – I need to be someone others can emulate. I’m learning that I need to live a life where I have no doubt about the answer to the question “have I done something I shouldn’t have?”

May my Creator guide me in being a good, decent, uplifting man. May God give women the strength to stand up to the wrongs committed against them. May all men have ears to hear these women’s voices and work to change before women have to speak. And may we all live in peace, in love, and in respect for one another.

much love. sheth.

Truth: No.

I was working with a mission group in a steamy warehouse near Pristina, sorting out a semi-truck load of donated goods to help those in the war-torn countryside of Kosovo: used men’s size 16 New Balance shoes, a five-foot high pallet of bulk feminine pads, boxes and boxes of clothing, non-perishable food, crib mattresses, and other essential (and non-essential) items.

In the middle of our morning’s work, a man from the nearby village walked up to us and offered up shots from an un-labeled green bottle.  This man was a Serbian and knew we were working with the Albanians, so his offer of a gift was sketchy at best as we were aiding his enemy.  Thinking I’d be friendly and nice – Jesus would have accepted this gift – I took the shot and threw it back.  It burned as it went down, and while it turned out to be a local liquor, the possibility was there that it could have been poison.

It’s not that I didn’t think the potential was there to be drinking poison that day, it’s that I have a difficult time saying no.  I didn’t want to offend this poor man who was offering up a large gift (though small in our eyes).  I didn’t want to look weak in the eyes of my fellow workers.  I didn’t want to portray a Christian that wouldn’t accept a gift.  I didn’t want to say no.

From the Corpus of Contemporary American English, the word ‘no’ is the 93rd most frequently used word in their database of over 450 million words.  In my personal database, it’s used much less frequently.  It’s not that I can’t say no, it’s that I usually don’t.

No is difficult for me to say because I don’t want to disappoint people.  I know how difficult it can be to ask others for help, to offer others something I have, to invite people somewhere, so when I’m given the opportunity, I’ll say yes.  I want to please people, even if it doesn’t please myself.

No is difficult for me to say because I think others have my best interests in mind.  I don’t take advantage of others, so why would someone take advantage of me?  ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’, right?  If I wish we all had one another’s best interests in mind, shouldn’t I assume others have my best interests in mind?

No is difficult for me to say because I want to discover new things.  I’ve lived my life fairly guarded, so now I seem to be going to the other extreme and saying ‘no’ would defeat the purpose.  Carpe diem!

My saying ‘yes’ to so many things has usually turned out to be a good thing – I’ve learned I enjoy sour cream, halal food, and halibut; I’ve discovered that I’m smart enough to be in grad school, I can learn new things while still holding on to my beliefs, and I can have conversations with others I disagree with and remain friends.  But my inability to say ‘no’ has led to bad relationships, many hangovers, stepping over my moral and ethical boundaries, and has caused me to ruin myself and others in the process.

I wrestle with when to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’ because it’s a delicate balance for me – I want to protect myself and my boundaries, but at the same time I want to make others feel loved and accepted.  I don’t want to disappoint, I don’t want to offend – I want to please.  Truthfully, saying ‘no’ is one of the most difficult words to get out of my mouth.

As I move into ministry – and into life – I need to utilize this word more.  I need to make ‘no’ a priority in my vocabulary and protect myself and my boundaries, knowing that it’s okay to say ‘no’.  I might offend some people, I might hurt others, but I need to utilize this tool to keep myself safe, sane, and healthy.  May God give me the courage to place this word on my tongue more often, and may my Creator give me the strength to use it when I need to.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Happy (Radiantly).

“Describe a time you were radiantly happy.
What do you value most in that memory?”

I came across this journal prompt yesterday, and I’m not sure how to write about it because truthfully I’m not wired that way anymore.  I admire people who can show their emotions, express themselves freely, and others around them don’t have to guess what is going on.  Me, I’m more of a wildcard, and others around me are continually left guessing as to what I’m feeling.

I wish I could express myself freely and have those ‘radiant’ feelings of joy and happiness, those times when I can cry, laugh, and weep.  I see people around me who are so very emotive and expressive, and I get a little jealous.  Somewhere deep in my mind, I suppose I’ve relinquished the thought that I can be radiantly happy.  Perhaps out of a fear of expecting bad to follow good I’ve denied myself the chance to experience this feeling, and instead have opted to remain staid and demure.  It’s safer this way.  There’s less chance of getting hurt if I can control this side of the ups and downs of life, right?

As I laid in bed last night I peered through my past, and attempted to find a moment when I experienced happiness in this way, but most of the ‘normal’ happiness-inducing moments of my life have been clouded by sorrow.  Finding out I was going to be a father was over-shadowed by divorce papers; finishing my bachelor’s degree was marred by a severely broken leg; a promising relationship was drowned out by unemployment; seminary has been a roller coaster of financial worries.  It’s not that I haven’t had moments that would call out in my life to be radiantly happy, but life has also beaten me down a bit and has left me a bit jaded.

I was talking with some people yesterday about this journal prompt and I told them that I don’t have a lot of moments of radiance because I don’t give myself permission to feel that way anymore.  I’m scared to do it because I’m scared of the bad things that may follow.  It’s silly to live my life in fear (especially a fear of this), but I’ve done it for so long that I don’t really know how to do it any differently.  I don’t know how to be ‘radiantly happy’.

Thinking about it, I realize I have a lot of work to do on myself to understand that it’s okay to feel emotions, to enjoy them, to enjoy life with all its ups-and-downs.  I have to figure out how to find radiant happiness (and the moments that provoke it).  I have to let go of my fears and worries, and just learn to enjoy life.  But I also have to understand that maybe, just maybe, I’m not a ‘radiantly-happy’ kind of person.  Maybe I don’t experience things in that way, and I need to be okay with that.

Whichever way I discover who/how I am, I pray that God can crack my emotions open, that my life can be changed, filtered, cleaned, and re-worked to become the man the Creator made me to become.  I pray that God can help us all to express ourselves in ways that others can understand, and that we can share these emotions with others in our lives.

much love. sheth.


Truth: Communion.

Last night a group of my friends and I came together to send off one of our fellow seminarians who has been called elsewhere.  It’s a challenging situation, and many hearts were heavy because we didn’t want to see our friend leave – we had struggled together through classes and life, sharing in both the good and bad that comes with each new day – it’s like losing a family member.

Our friend’s request before we went our separate ways was for us to break bread together – to take communion as a group.  As my friend talked about why she felt at peace about her calling, a few of us prepared the meal we were about to take, and it was quickly placed before the group.  As seminarians we sort of hemmed and hawed at who should perform this sacred rite: partially because we may have felt unworthy to do such a thing, and partially because we held fast to the belief that only those who are ordained could serve communion.

Most of us who were present had been through our worship class and had learned how to serve communion – the words to be said were firmly in our hearts and minds and the movements were still present in our muscle memory; it is safe to say that we were prepared enough to do this act.  But none of us were willing to step up and do it.  Our friend who was leaving somewhat reluctantly agreed that she would serve the bread and the wine.

And it was the most beautiful and heartfelt meal I have had in seminary.  In those moments, no words of institution were spoken as we all knew them.  No big and flowing actions were completed as the bread was fractured and the wine was poured.  In that moment we were a group of friends – a group of believers – sharing in the love, grace, and beauty of God’s amazing gift to us.  I recognized Jesus in the voices around me as the bread was passed, and I recognized Jesus in the hands as the cup was presented to each of us.

There are moments in church when we say certain things and do certain things to refresh our memories of why we’re doing those things.  We are presented with beautiful prayers and words to mark the importance and full information of why we’re partaking in those actions.  We do all this stuff because it returns us through history to the very earliest churches who met in homes; small groups of men and women gathered together to hear the Word, to offer up themselves, and to eat together.

Truthfully, I believe that’s what made last night so beautiful – we were doing exactly what Christ had instructed us to do, and we were doing it as the early church had done.  There were no boundaries between anyone and the meal and there were no special words to be spoken; last night we were the church.  We were a group of people madly in love with one another, and madly in love with God, sharing a meal together to remember who we are, who loves us, and who our brothers and sisters are in our eyes and in God’s eyes.

I thank God for my friend who is preparing to leave – I thank God for her wisdom, her courage, her strength, her understanding, her compassion and love for everyone around her, and for her willingness to discern what the Divine is saying and to heed that voice.  And I thank God for her desire to break bread with us before she leaves – this moment has solidified our relationship, and I know that no matter where God chooses to place her (or me, or any of us), I know that she and I (and we) are connected forever.

That’s what communion is about – it connects me to God, and me to those who are enjoying it with me.  It brings about the remembrance of the beautiful sacrifice of Jesus, it solidifies our relationship with the Creator, and it unites people who are continually torn apart by society and life.

May God bless and bring peace to my friend’s heart (and mine, and yours), and may we continually remember those beautiful moments of eating together with our (and God’s) loved ones.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Not Praying.

It’s not uncommon for me to hear of requests for prayer, either through the churches I attend, on my Facebook Feed, or through my school’s email list, and I can read anywhere from one to three requests for prayer (or more) per day.  These don’t include the occasional texts I receive from friends or family, and the even rarer in-person requests for me to pray for something or someone.  And I always respond with a fervent ‘Yes! I’d be glad to pray!”  If I’m responding online or in a text, my responses usually include an exclamation point at the end to signify my excitement and urgency in this, my call to action:

Praying for you in this time!
Lifting you up in prayers now!
Going to God with this immediately!
You’re in my prayers today and always!
#praying #interceding #headbowedhandsfolded

But the truth is, my actions usually never go beyond these responses.  While I’m eager to pray and willing to do so, the requests come to my prayer inbox but don’t go straight to my prayer outbox…they just kind of sit there, marked as read and perpetually in limbo for eternity.  I’m terrible at following through in my responses to prayer requests.  Being on the opposite side of the table – the one requesting prayer – I recognize how important it is to know others are lifting me or my issues up to God, and I count on those who respond that they will pray to do as they say.  So why can’t I do it?

I’m not not-praying in some malicious way.  I’m not intentionally telling people I’ll pray and give them hope, only to not pray for them.  I don’t sit at my computer or with my phone in hand replying and thinking (with a Snidely Whiplash tone in my voice), “Ha Ha!  I’ll say that I’m praying, but in reality I won’t think about their injured puppy ever again! Muahahahaha!”

And I’m not not-praying because I don’t believe in the power of prayer, either.  I value prayer and the idea that we can approach God with confidence and humility and present our requests, thoughts, frustrations, ideas, hopes, dreams, fears, and questions.  There’s something deeply reassuring to know that the Creator has time to sit and listen to me and my voice amid the myriad of other voices crying out.

I think my reason for not praying is that these requests tend to show up at ‘inconvenient’ times for me, and my selfishness gets in the way.  I respond with fervor and willingness, but I always back it up with me making a half-hearted mental note, “Hey, don’t forget to pray for Annie’s nephew later…and don’t forget to buy deodorant.”  And I never do it.  My mind moves on to the next thing, the next problem in front of me, the next issue going on in my world and I never return to pray for Annie’s nephew, or my parents’ health, or my friend’s marriage, or teenagers I know who are struggling, or for my country, or for my church home, or for that family who lost their father, or…or…or…

It’s not like I don’t have anything to pray about – I just tend to lose it in the shuffle of my life.  I put it aside for later and never return to it.  And part of why I don’t just pray for it then and there is because I think there are more pressing matters at hand which…which is stupid, because very little of what I ever do is more important than praying.  When I think about it, the things that come into view that keep me from praying are just ridiculous compared to talking to God about Annie’s nephew or that teenager or my friend’s marriage.  Rich Mullins wrote, “…the stuff of Earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things…”  And the ‘stuff of earth’ usually wins: Facebook…the news cycle…phone notifications…some TV show…games…a shiny light…there’s so much going on around us to draw me away from getting down and praying in the moment I say I’m going to pray.

Honestly, I’m ashamed of myself for doing this for so long,  I’m ashamed because I have said I’m going to do something and then don’t do it.  I’m ashamed for not putting others before my silly-life-things.  I’m ashamed for not immediately going to God with these requests.  God have mercy on me in the midst of my failures, and may I have the ability to change.  And may the stuff of Earth never take priority over talking with my Creator.

much love. sheth.