When I inevitably proved not to be the kind of woman I was supposed to be over and over again, it wasn’t something wrong with what I was doing; it was something fundamentally wrong with me as a person. I always felt like the black sheep, I was passed over a lot because there was something about me that wasn’t quite right. It sometimes felt as though calling me a “Christian woman” was as ironic as calling me a name that means “peaceful and quiet.”
When you're single, sermons, books, and Bible studies are focused on telling you that only the love of Jesus can fulfill you. When you're married, the same sources are focused on teaching how a husband and wife can love each other in a fulfilling way. For all our talk when we were single about how no person could fill the place of God in our lives, we sure started acting like it was possible when we got married.
So where's the line? That's what we always want to know. Fingertip length? Cover the shoulders? One piece swimsuits? No cleavage ever? Where is the line between abaya and hooker? Because all of us have an unspoken line somewhere between the two and deep down we want an actual rulebook to give validity to what we've always thought.
I replace prayer with guilt over the fact that I haven't prayed. When I do pray for something, I feel like one time is not good enough. This guilt is toxic to what my communication with God could be right now. I don't feel the freedom to just come to Him and talk...or listen. I feel like when I come to Him, I have a backlog of 10 year's worth of prayers.
Since Junior High I've had pastors, youth pastors, mentors, teachers, and friends telling me about quiet times. Telling me about Bible study methods, prayer methods, ways to relate to God, how much time I should spend doing this, and that quiet times are always best in the morning with a freshly brewed cup of coffee by my side. Things are more holy in the morning. Plus, God is an early bird so He's extra attentive then. The problem was, I took those suggestions and methods and made them into rules. I pasted them all into this giant rule book until spending time with God became a crippling activity, a balancing act of doing everything right.
You probably feel guilty just like I do. This all feels sacrilegious or sinful because we "good Christians" are masters at saying "I struggle with distractions when I spend time with God" or "It's hard finding time to spend with God." Or my favorite "I'm sometimes tempted not to spend time with God." It's easier, isn't it? It's easier to use words like "struggle" and "temptation" than to truthfully say "sometimes I dread having a 'quiet time.'" See, I don't just "struggle" with not spending time with God right now. I flat out don't feel like spending time with Him.