“Andra, you’re 22,” she tells me.
I know what this means. This means I have plenty of time to figure everything out. This means I’m still young. Never mind the fact that by the time my mother was twenty-two, she had already been married for five years. Though that is beside the point.
Ben Rector* sings the following lyrics in his song, Sailboat:
“Oh I’m out in the waves
I’m hoping and praying
Please let this wind blow me home
Night after night, there’s an empty horizon
And my God, do I feel so alone
Sometimes I, most times I, feel just like a sailboat”
I think he taps into one of the issues accompanied by trusting God. (Actually, the more I’ve been thinking about trusting God, I’ve found reminders and references all over the place. When trusting God is continually on the forefront of your mind, you notice little things that remind you to trust God. They remind you to pray. They remind you to long for a desire to grow closer to God.) This song reminds me that trusting God is needed the most in the times when we feel like we are out in waves, hoping and praying, but feeling alone.
It feels like I’m floating in an ocean without clear direction. And honestly, if I were floating in an ocean I would be freaking out. First because I don’t know how to swim. Second because it’s like the movie Gravity only I would feel like floating in space would be worse. I mean, right? Let’s be real. All this to say sometimes when you don’t know what’s next–when you don’t have a five-year plan of any kind–it is easy to fall into feeling hopeless.
Anne Lamott (are we beginning to sense a trend that she’s my favorite author?) writes in her book, Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers:
There’s freedom in hitting bottom, in seeing that you won’t be able to save or rescue your daughter, her spouse, his parents, or your career, relief in admitting you’ve reached the place of great unknowing. This is where restoration can begin, because when you’re still in the state of trying to fix the unfixable, everything bad is engaged: the chatter of your mind, the tension of your physiology, all the trunks and wheel-ons you carry from the past. It’s exhausting, crazy-making.
When we feel directionless and lost, we may feel like we’ve hit rock bottom. This means there are two important things to remember:
1. Stop being ridiculous. You have not reached rock bottom. You are probably just bring over-dramatic.
2. This is exactly where you need to be.
Not knowing where to go next or what to do next could make you feel so hopeless you want to give up. Or. It could bring you to total dependence on God. When you hit bottom, your prayer begins to stop being the list of things we want and starts to be summed up into just “Help.”
God, help. I don’t know what’s coming.
God, help me trust You.
God, help me as we walk through the unknown.
Help is a simple prayer, but like Anne Lamott writes, it’s the first great prayer. It’s the humbling prayer that helps us realize we cannot do this alone and that we aren’t alone. It’s the prayer that brings us back to our knees. So it’s a really great place to start.
Ben (just kidding, we aren’t on a first-name basis like that) also sings:
“But I’m not giving up
Oh I will move on forward
I’m gonna raise my sail
God knows what I’m headed toward”
Maybe it seems too cliché to say the answer is to pray and continue to put your trust in God. But it does also involve moving forward and not giving up. I recently told someone that I felt bad about writing this series because it ultimately feels like I’m saying the same thing every day. However, I’m writing this because it is something even I need to remember daily.
*Also let’s just collectively agree that we all enjoy Ben Rector. Sound good?