Listening to Your Heart

My mom gave me a print for my birthday in 2009 of  a painting called “Bryony.”

Awesome, right? She asked me if I would like for her to order it so that it came matted, and I told her no, I would take care of that myself (so I could help her help me in terms of giving me this awesome print).

When it arrived, the print came rolled in a tube and stuck in a rectangular box marked “art.com.” I was excited about it, but I also thought that it wouldn’t fit in my living space at the time (a studio apartment) and that I would just leave it rolled until I lived in a place where I had furniture and wanted to decorate.

So it stayed rolled for more than a year. This story may have actually taken place in 2008, now that I think about it. Either way. It was at least a year.

So flash forward to the other day, when I bought a coffee table and a dining room chair to go at my table. On a mad decorating high, I seized the box the print was in, opened it and hastily taped the print to my wall because I wanted my apartment to have some decorative elements for the new year.

The print itself is awesome, amazing, beautiful and complex, just like another Bryon(e)y I happen to know and love.

….but the thing is that it’s been rolled for a year, and so the print wants to go back to being rolled. It may have been made to be flat, but the way I treated it forced it to conform to a new state to the point where its original intended state is now the one that is unnatural for it.

It’s 2011, guys. And there’s symbolism in everything.

My heart reminds me of that print. Before I started writing this post, I was laying in bed and I was praying and trying to listen to it because my heart is trying to tell me something tonight but I’m not quite catching it.

There is a sort of a recurring theme in my relationship with God where I pray for the same thing for years at a time before I feel like it is actually granted. And these are not, like, prayers for material things, but they’re more like prayers for me to experience some sort of spiritual growth. I think I started praying to be “saved” (born again in the spirit of the Lord) at 11. I felt like  I actually became born again when I was 22.

That is half my life spent praying the same prayer.

And I would get frustrated, but I also know why it took so long and it’s because I was always praying that prayer with a divided heart. I’ve always believed in and loved God, but I’ve also always wanted to experience the world and what it has to offer too, and so my prayers were something along the lines of “I want you to save my soul….but I also want to drink and party. I don’t want to be a hypocrite…do you think you could save me after I’ve had my fun?”

And it is a testament to God’s great capacity for understanding that He actually granted this prayer and continues to meet me on my tenuous walk as I take two steps toward Him and one step back to party.

I was supposed to go to church today,

but I didn’t.

OK. I’ve been supposed to have gone to church for at least a month…but I haven’t.

I know I need to go, I know I need to go.

But I also need to know what my heart is trying to say to me and I haven’t quite learned that in church yet.

Ever since I’ve been saved, I’ve been praying the same prayer: that I would hear God clearly.

It’s been about two years, but being a part of a church community sometimes makes me really painfully aware that I can’t hear Him the way other Christians hear Him and that really complicates my relationship with God because I feel angry and neglected and left out. And then someone will tell me that the reason is because I don’t read the Bible enough or something and I just feel like calling the whole thing off.

I’m so visible.

I’m so visible.

We’re so visible,

You know?

Being a part of a church community makes the aspects of my relationship with God or my spiritual walk that I consider shortcomings…so visible. Especially to me. I’m telling you, most days I feel like a pretty good Christian because I try to treat people well and I talk to God and include Him in my life and give Him thanks.

But then I get around other Christians and I laugh at something that wasn’t meant as a joke (I am notorious in my real-world social circle for laughing at inappropriate things) or I almost say something that’s vulgar or I hear someone say something like “I mean I’m not gonna lie, I was tempted to try wine once” …and it’s like…well now I’m uncomfortable.

I read this book called “The Alchemist” and it talked a lot about how there is a way to tap into the Soul of the World, the thing that makes all things in this world one, and how those things, that thing, were all created by the Hand that Wrote Everything (my cultural references assume that means God), which is also a part of the Soul of the World, and therefore everything, and since we are a part of everything, that means us.

And it talked about how our hearts by their very nature are linked to this Soul of the World, but humans have collectively grown to ignore their hearts over time. And so the hearts speak more softly, because they don’t want to be ignored. And humans continue to ignore them, possibly because they can’t hear them.

And, OK, before anyone gets alarmed about my seeming inability to separate reality from someone’s imagination…I am aware that this book is a work of fiction.

But, really, how much of our entire lives are NOT a product of our imaginations,

first of all.

Second…it just speaks to me because I know I have kept my heart neatly rolled in a box marked art.com for years because I wasn’t ready to deal with it. And now that I’m ready to take it out and admire its beauty and complexity…it wants to stay rolled. Because that is the form its taken from being confined for so long.

And I wonder if the reason I can’t hear God doesn’t have something to do with the fact that I have treated my heart so poorly for all this time.

I only have three resolutions this year: 1) to not buy a new book until I finish reading all the ones I have in my apartment already 2) to have better posture and 3) to get to know and establish a loving relationship with my heart.

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