Praying Through Pain

I am guest posting over at the Hoboken Grace Blog this week about how to pray in the midst of pain. We’re currently in a series called “In the Meantime: What do you do when there’s nothing you can do?” which, in (too) many ways, perfectly describes my life right now. I am sure many of you can relate to the idea of figuring out how to make it through a waiting season. If you are a person who prays, I hope this encourages you!

Praying with friends at Hoboken Grace
Praying with friends at Hoboken Grace

Sometimes I find it hard to trust God. I have experienced His love and grace in such richness throughout my life, so I know He will prove faithful yet again. However during difficult seasons, my heart can easily seize up, unable to believe that He will truly meet me in the midst of my pain. My prayers become desperate with each passing day they remain unanswered: God, please fix this. Please heal this person, please show up in this situation, please restore, please show mercy. Please. Please.

So what happens when our prayers go unanswered? It can seem easier to give up on communicating with God altogether, enacting a kind of silent treatment against our Creator. We barely open the Bible because we don’t believe God will use it to speak to our particular situation. Surrounded by pain and questions, we allow ourselves to be ruled by anxiety, often adding to an already difficult circumstance.

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Dating for Real: the Second Time Around

The first time we dated, summer 2008
Summer 2008, when it all began

The first time we dated, I repeatedly told Nick I would not be his girlfriend “until I had peace about it.”

What that looked like and felt like, I had no idea. I spent our dates and weekends together in a state of utter panic and constant comparison to my last relationship. I would run off pros and cons list in my head, keeping track of all the elements he was missing that didn’t measure up to my expectations. Sometimes it felt like I was on the verge of a panic attack because the accusing voices in my head refused to shut up. I had never truly experienced peace in a relationship before, but somehow I knew I would recognize it if it appeared, and I wasn’t willing to move forward into a committed relationship until it materialized.

More than anything, when I met the person who would be my future husband, I wanted to know, deep down, that this was the person for me. I was not willing to leap blindly into my future, hoping for the best.

Continue reading Dating for Real: the Second Time Around

When I Love My Husband Most

There are plenty of reasons I love my husband. Nick is the only guy I have ever been in a relationship with that loves live music as much as I do, and shares similar taste. He jumps at the chance to be with people and create great memories. (An extrovert + an extrovert = a LOT of fun!) But beyond these things, when I find myself most proud of him and confident that I chose my life partner well is when we pray together.

When you marry someone and begin living every day with them, it is my understanding that for many people, a shift in dynamic occurs. It did for us. After the wedding, you go from planning non-stop and discussing a thousand decisions on color scheme and seating charts back to normal, every day life. You and your partner are no longer in premarital counseling, purposefully examining the past and discussing serious issues on a weekly basis. Many days, you find yourself having less to discuss. Don’t get me wrong, establishing a routine is necessary, and normalcy is good, but sometimes it can seem a little lackluster.

In our marriage, prayer is a conduit for the purest form of love to flow. Praying with your spouse is one of the most intimate acts you can experience. In some instances, it can feel even more intimate than sex. Nick’s first dinner group leader in Hoboken once said to him, “If you want to really know someone’s heart, pray with them.” In prayer, you are bearing your soul to your creator, and allowing someone else to listen in. That can be scary. I have found that as I sit in the presence of God and the person I have chosen to spend all my days with, I grow closer to both of them.

In prayer, one of the methods of practice is that you intentionally search your own heart to learn where you have messed up. Most than once, Nick and I have found ourselves confessing wrongs to each other and asking forgiveness for our sin that we might have been unaware of or purposely swept under the rug. We are human. We are flawed. And I am a notorious avoider of conflict. When we enter into prayer, it is infinitely harder for me to live in denial or turn and run. I have already agreed to engage in the act, recognizing that without bearing my soul, my act of devotion is worthless.

If Nick is struggling, my heart breaks for him and I am invited into the struggle. Watching my husband pour out sorrow and joy before his maker is when I swear I can literally feel my heart swelling with love for him. Praying together enables us to move past the every day and brush back the veil between heaven and earth. I will go so far as to say that praying together strengthens our marriage and bonds us together unlike anything else.

It seems like I told God hundreds of times during my dating years just how badly I wanted to find a partner in life with a deep love for and willingness to share his heart with God. During those quiet moments sitting together by candlelight on the couch, or on the floor of our church office with friends, or in a school lounge before service early on Sunday mornings, I am overwhelmed by just how fully and beautifully that prayer has been answered.

When do you feel closest to your significant other? When do you find you love them most? Or what do you hope to have in a future relationship?