Yes, I realize that it is almost the end of January, but I made this resolution at the beginning of the month. I’m not cheating…but I’m not really winning either.
I’m not really big on the whole making resolutions at the beginning of the year because, knowing myself, I will promptly not do them starting January 3rd. I forget or life gets in the way or I feel like they are not accomplishable or whatever my excuse may be. I just don’t do them. I also hope to live my life in a way that if I see a change that really needs to be made, I will just do it. I’ve done this before on numerous occasions. My hope is to be able to continue to grow and change throughout my life, whether or not it is the beginning of a calendar year.
This all being said, I have made a resolution this year. I am going to pray through all of the psalms by the end of the year. This endeavor was inspired by a Taize monk that I have as a friend and was also one of my professors at seminary. For one of the classes I took from him, we were required to pray through the psalms and keep a journal of it throughout the semester (or 6 weeks, maybe…I don’t remember which right now).
I loved it. I absolutely loved it.
The reason that I loved praying the psalms so much is that they are so incredibly honest and emotional and real. They are moments of people talking to God in various places, seasons, and situations in their lives. Sometimes they yell at God. Sometimes they accuse God. Sometimes they praise God. Sometimes they request things of God. The topics of the psalms are far-reaching, but the center of them is a dialogue or monologue with God. They psalmists take up their beefs with God directly and I’ve been feeling lately like that’s a direction I need to go, but I don’t have the words to talk to God anymore. I needed help.
Through the struggles and trials and tribulations of the past few weeks, months, and years, at times it seems like my voice has grown hoarse with the petitions I’ve laid before God. My reservoir of words has run dry in my conversations with God. In the area of my call as a pastor, I feel like God has turned Her back on me and is plugging His ears. Why have I been led on this path? Why does everyone else get a call and I don’t? Why am I living in limbo? “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.”
It is now only a few days before the draft, the fourth year that I have been eligible and I’m not even sure what to think. Will this be the year that all the planets will align and I’ll finally get to be a pastor? Who knows? I’m not sure what to hope for. The first time I went through, I would have gone anywhere and I was assigned to the place my heart and soul most desired to go. I was elated and then let down by not receiving a call. Now I don’t dare hope to get that again. I just hope that I get something.
So, I pray. I’m praying the psalms. I open up my bible to a random psalm and pray and try to mean the words that I pray. Even when the praising is hard. Even when my bones are out of joint and my heart is melted. Even when it is so hard to “Be still and know that I am God.” I pray. And through the words of these men (and women) in the scriptures, I find my faith again. I find my hope again. I find a moment of peace and joy and release.
Praying the psalms doesn’t necessarily make things easier, but it helps me to speak when my voice is gone and to pray that I will be able to lift my eyes and my soul to the Lord, from where my help comes.
I encourage anyone who has not tried it (and even those who have) to join me in praying some psalms this year. Even if you are praying the same one over and over again. It is a beautiful practice and maybe we can both find our voices again when the words refuse to come from our own minds.
Happy New Year, everyone!