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When God Talks Back


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#41 Greg P

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 02:58 PM

Go with whatever seems right based on factors that play into marriage: attractiveness, personality, whatever. You have no way of knowing if God wants you to marry person 1 or person 2, as frustrating as that might be. Marry the person you're more attracted to, the one you think will be the better mother to your kids, the one who makes you feel the best.

As someone who is currently at a similar crossroads in his life-- at this exact moment-- I think this is really sturdy advice. I've probably been so active commenting on this thread because it's such a fresh area of testing for me.

When my first marriage ended tragically in divorce and I ventured out solo for the first time in 17 years, I desperately wanted to feel "safe" again with someone eventually on this ragged-ass road of life. After close to 2 years of singleness, I think I've found someone who fits that bill. But I also recognize in myself this urge to want be "certain" and have tried repeatedly to find a concrete answer that will translate into me never having to endure the pain I went through, again. The bottom line: I've done almost everything to find 100% insurance against experiencing that agony a second time-- including listening for a still, small voice.

But the grown-up fact is: 100% certainties don't really exist as far as people and relationships are concerned. Deep down I know this. In my well-meaning rebellion, I have tried very subtle, nuanced ways to secure that certainty via prayer, meditation, questioning, verbal affirmations, counsel from friends, etc... But at some point, I had to make the decision that I could only gather all the objective data I could know to make an informed decision, combine that with what my heart feels and then... frankly, just go for it, live life and be HAPPY. It is terrifying and sometimes stressful thinking of all that could go awry in my future... and I secretly wish God would say something to me directly, to help. But he hasn't. Let's face it-- he probably won't. And I understand.

But this I know: no matter what happens to me, I am loved and somehow, beyond all conception, accepted by God, unconditionally. I am promised that. Apart from this I am also promised struggles and joy on my journey. It's enough.

#42 Christian

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 03:24 PM

But the grown-up fact is: 100% certainties don't really exist as far as people and relationships are concerned. Deep down I know this. In my well-meaning rebellion, I have tried very subtle, nuanced ways to secure that certainty via prayer, meditation, questioning, verbal affirmations, counsel from friends, etc... But at some point, I had to make the decision that I could only gather all the objective data I could know to make an informed decision, combine that with what my heart feels and then... frankly, just go for it, live life and be HAPPY. It is terrifying and sometimes stressful thinking of all that could go awry in my future... and I secretly wish God would say something to me directly, to help. But he hasn't. Let's face it-- he probably won't. And I understand.

But this I know: no matter what happens to me, I am loved and somehow, beyond all conception, accepted by God, unconditionally. I am promised that. Apart from this I am also promised struggles and joy on my journey. It's enough.

This is beautifully said. Thanks, Greg.

#43 Andy Whitman

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 03:34 PM


But the grown-up fact is: 100% certainties don't really exist as far as people and relationships are concerned. Deep down I know this. In my well-meaning rebellion, I have tried very subtle, nuanced ways to secure that certainty via prayer, meditation, questioning, verbal affirmations, counsel from friends, etc... But at some point, I had to make the decision that I could only gather all the objective data I could know to make an informed decision, combine that with what my heart feels and then... frankly, just go for it, live life and be HAPPY. It is terrifying and sometimes stressful thinking of all that could go awry in my future... and I secretly wish God would say something to me directly, to help. But he hasn't. Let's face it-- he probably won't. And I understand.

But this I know: no matter what happens to me, I am loved and somehow, beyond all conception, accepted by God, unconditionally. I am promised that. Apart from this I am also promised struggles and joy on my journey. It's enough.

This is beautifully said. Thanks, Greg.

And I understand as well, Greg. The only thing I would add is that sometimes, in unpredictable, non-formulaic ways, God answers those prayers.

It already sounds like he answered a different one, and I'm really happy for you.

#44 Attica

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 03:45 PM

.. and I secretly wish God would say something to me directly, to help. But he hasn't. Let's face it-- he probably won't. And I understand.

But this I know: no matter what happens to me, I am loved and somehow, beyond all conception, accepted by God, unconditionally. I am promised that. Apart from this I am also promised struggles and joy on my journey. It's enough.


I appreciated this as well, and agree with what your saying. I hope my comments were not perceived as being negative towards you. I wasn't arguing against the basic sentiment of what your saying here, as I've had many a time when I would have loved to "hear" God's help in crucial matters, but there was only silence. It can be frustrating and confusing, but that doesn't mean that God doesn't care about us

Edited by Attica, 11 April 2012 - 03:45 PM.


#45 Darren H

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 04:17 PM

Andy wrote:

But it's good to ask. It's like praying for healing. Many times such prayer doesn't "work" from any standpoint we can understand. But it's good to ask.


Greg wrote:

Apart from this I am also promised struggles and joy on my journey. It's enough.


I've been debating whether to share this story. I hope you'll understand if I keep the details to a minimum. Eight years ago, my mother- and father-in-law were murdered, horrifically, by their son. A month later, as my wife and I were cleaning out their home, I found my mother-in-law's prayer journals, which were filled from cover to cover with desperate lamentations for her son.

Reading those journals changed my understanding of prayer. Given some of the other circumstances we were facing, it was tempting to react cynically. "A lot of good all that praying did her. Maybe God was too busy guiding Greg toward a new wife or Andy's friend toward a professional calling to look out for a mother in danger." Knowing how it all ended, I still mourn the thought of her pouring out her sadness, day after day, literally on her knees, begging God to save her son from all that plagued him. But instead of becoming cynical, I could think only of the comfort that she must have found in the effort and discipline and quiet of prayer -- this for a woman who had so few sources of comfort and peace in her life, otherwise. A few months later, I reread the Psalms and was struck again by the same thought.

I fall somewhere in Greg's camp in this discussion. Frankly, I don't have much faith in intercessory prayer, but I still pray because I have no doubt that prayer changes the life of the person who is doing the praying. I'm interested in reading Luhrmann's book because I'm not even all that sure my sense of Christian prayer is too much different from meditation, talk therapy, and self-help mantras. I suppose I assume there is a kind of transcendent holiness in the rite of prayer, just as I think of a Christian wedding as something sacred and eternal. But at my most rational, I think prayer serves primarily a psychological function. I say that with guilt and a fair amount of regret, but I also wonder if, perhaps, psychological comfort is enough -- a God-given touch of grace.

Anyway, thanks again for this conversation. It's come at a good time for me.

Edited by Darren H, 11 April 2012 - 09:08 PM.


#46 Greg P

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 05:40 PM

Wow, is all I can say. Thanks for sharing that.

#47 Darren H

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 09:03 PM

Thanks, Greg. I wrote that post quickly before leaving work. I hope it's a bit more clear now after a bit of editing.

#48 Attica

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 10:44 PM

Anyway, thanks again for this conversation. It's come at a good time for me.



I'm glad.

#49 Greg P

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 05:52 AM

Just want to add that I really appreciate this thread and all the personalities who participate on this board. This is such a unique place. An A&F convention or beer-tasting symposium would be something I'd definitely get on a plane for.