Message from September 29: Prayer from the Hiding

Note from the Pastor: On Sunday, young people who participated in the 2019 Presbyterian Youth Triennium led our worship. The theme of the Triennium was “Here’s My Heart,” from the third verse of the hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” The message of the day was a poem composed and performed by Jordan Petersen. Here is the text.

Prayer From the Hiding

I have spent a lifetime hiding.
Hiding from people
People who taunt, torment, hurt
A twisted, cruel game no one wants to play
But will say nothing against
And so I can be found in a dark corner

Hiding from people
Who want to touch, to kiss, hug
Who mean well but don’t understand that
I can’t stand the suffocation that comes with their embraces
So I can be found
In an undiscovered room

But usually,
I’m hiding from myself
And the darkness that purrs within my chest
And the emotions I feel so strongly
Too strongly
That they threaten to wash over me
And wipe out those around me
As I stand
Literally the eye in my own personal hurricane
There are more casualties than I care to admit.

I am hiding from the undeniable fragility
Of my terribly human heart.
And maybe it isn’t so terrible of a heart
Its beat a constant reminder of life
Its steady thrumming calms me as I lay half-asleep
But it is fickle
And it can be cruel
It can see someone broken
And mock them instead of being
That smile they desperately need
It can want and take with reckless abandon
Leaving with those taken bits of others’ past
Marking them as its own
And then discarding them
When it grows bored

It can be so hateful
And turn away every kind face
Because it is jealous
Of the smiles that some so easily
To those shining faces
And it is broken
Breaking every day
Each day brings a new fracture
Until they spiderweb out
Leaving me wondering
If a cave-in is imminent

And sometimes I can’t
Help but think
If You exist
If you’re there like everyone says
You are
How could You design something
with so major of a flaw?
One that is so sure to be my downfall?

If You’re there
How could You design us to lie
Our untruths like poisoned honey falling from sneering lips
How could You design us to steal
Our hands reaching, snatching, taking
Like vultures on a carcass
How could You design us to sin
With wild and reckless abandon
Straying farther from You
With every crime committed against You

And it leads me back
To that age-old argument.
If You exist.
Because my broken
human heart
sometimes can’t
Or won’t
Because I there are times
When I cannot feel You
I cannot see You.

Where I cannot find You
As others do
In the eyes of my neighbor
Or the kindness of a stranger
I can only see what is wrong
And there is so much wrong
I am told to look for the good
And I am trying
But my mind pinpoints the wrongs
On the bulletin board in my mind
Red strings attached to show

Is that something wrong with me?
Is there something so fundamentally broken
Or wrong with me
That I can’t find You?
Or is it that You just aren’t there?
Is your silence extended solely to me?

Sometimes, it feels as if
There is a hole somewhere in my chest
Where doubt has carved a cavern so deep
That I cannot find the end of it.
And maybe
Maybe some small, cowering part of me
Would prefer if You weren’t there
If You didn’t exist
Because then I wouldn’t have to explain
To anyone
How broken I am
And no one would really see

Maybe that small part of me is okay with that
Because it’s terrifying to think that
You have to look down
And see who I am
Because I am a human of contradictions
And I feel ashamed
And so maybe I hide from You too

Because everything
Everything in this world
Seems to point
To taunt
To mock and compare
To tell me I am not good enough
And if I am not good enough for the world around me
How can I possibly hope
To be good enough
For You?

So I hide
And those broken bits of me
That so desperately need healing
Find no refuge and no salvation
Because the belief I once held so strongly
Faded and withered like a poisoned vine
Desperately clinging to life
Unable to stretch further towards the light
Just. Stuck. There.
Desperate for help
Yet unwilling to ask.
Because how can I believe in You
If there is no hope
Of You believing in me?

Plastering on a smile
And throwing a laugh where it is needed
Sometimes, it’s easier to smile
To pretend
Sometimes the laughter is pure and genuine
Although tainted with something darker
And if I close my eyes
There are memories flashing
Behind my eyelids
Like butterflies
And it is as easy as breathing
To declare
“I believe in God”

Then there are days where there is nothing
I do not dare close my eyes
Because I will see this deep pit of nothing
This dark void inside my gut takes form
prowling under my skin like a caged beast
whispering doubts that no amount of sunshine
Or laughter
Can ever take from me

And I want to cry out to the Heavens,
“God! Save me from these feelings,
I am drowning
And I can’t do this alone
I cannot swim through this”
But I do not
Because I don’t know which I’m more afraid of
The echo
Or the answer
And so I hide

You’re called the Rock of Salvation
And all I could think of was the sea
And stones in that murky, sour water
Covered in soft-looking algae
Pulled down by their weight
Whispering secrets and mysteries
To those who dwell below
Forgotten, unseen by those above

And I didn’t want to be like that
I didn’t want you to sink me to the bottom
Below those churning waves
If you are truly a rock then I would plummet
The ocean floor rising to greet me
I didn’t want you to drown me
Overpower me
So that all that’s left of me is a song
At the bottom of the sea

So I hid
When I should have clung to you
Because in my frightened human heart
I never thought of stability
something so steadfast and unmoving
That it is unshakable
I thought of you as an anchor sending me to the bottom
Not one holding me fast
Against any storm
Against any current desperate to pull me away
To rip away every piece of me

But still I hide
Like most of us do
Hiding from Your light, Your warmth
Afraid it will burn our eyes
Instead of drying our tears
Afraid it will forsake us
After we grow to love it so dearly
So we distance ourselves
Shut ourselves in the dark
Because the fear
Of the creatures who dwell with us
Within that dark
Is sometimes easier
To manage, to leash
Than the fear
Of being unworthy
Of Your embraces

And Lord, I am sorry
Sorry that we hide from you
Sorry that I hide from you
You, who have made our
Human hearts in your image
While Yours surely breaks
As we cower
Terrified to be deemed unworthy
By a Father who has shown us
Nothing less than perfect love

A Father who gives his children
All he has and all he is
I am sorry that there are days
Where it seems that darkness
Is my only comfort
I am sorry that I am sometimes afraid
To say I believe in You
Because my fickle heart
Is full of contradictions
And I am sorry
For my broken human heart.

But I want you to know that I am trying
Every day, every hour, every second
Trying to be worthy of You
Because every second of every hour of every day
You battle my darknesses to keep them at bay
You bring back the light to me
When I have given up on the sunshine
When my doubt threatens to drown me
My Rock holds me fast
And when my fragile heart
Threatens to give out
You are there to soothe it, to calm it
I am not perfect
And I struggle to find you
But I promise you every day I will try.

Because it is You who saves
My people
Your people
It is You who offers light in the darkest of nights
It is You whose songs comfort the wailing of many
It is You who heals the weary, the broken
It is You whom we seek
And yes, sometimes
It is You we are
Afraid to find
But it is You who loves us
It is you who knows us
It is you who will try and bring us
Back to you

You knew me before I ever knew you
And no matter where my doubt takes me
You will be there
Waiting for me to come home
So when I come back
Fold me into your arms
Hold me there so my doubt
Is meaningless and shallow
In the light of your fathomless love.
When I return to that place of shadow
Do not fear
For I will find my way back to you
Lead me back
Light up my night
With your starshine.

God, I love you with all of my human heart
It is ever-changing and in turmoil, full of anger and greed
But it is mine
And I will offer it wholly to You.
And maybe that isn’t much
But it’s all I have
And I know deep in my singing bones
That it is enough
That am enough for You

I might be prone to anger so deep
It pours fire into my veins
Scorching my lungs and
Leaving me with crimson-tinged vision
Sadness so profound
It steals the breath from my lungs and
Sends tremors through my body
That I can barely contain
And doubt so agonizing
That every whisper of the wind frightens me
Makes my very soul cry out in despair

But You
Are prone to Love so complete
That you shaped our very lives with it
poured our very souls from it
And Compassion so strong
that maybe I can feel it
in the strength of my bones
Or the height of my shoulders
The current running through my veins
or the praises on my lips
And I am enough for You.
I am everything to You.

So Lord, take my heart
Forgive me for all the missing pieces
Kiss all the fractures
Smooth over the jagged edges
Bind them together with Your Love and Grace
Because You might just be the only thing
Strong enough to hold me together
And that’s okay
Take my heart, Lord
Take and seal it.
Seal it for thy courts above.

© 2019 Jordan Petersen


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