I consider myself to be a rational person.
I mean sure, I’m emotional. After a heartfelt episode of Glee or when those Tide commercials come on during the Olympics—I am a blubbering mess. But for the most part, and on most days, I think I’m a considerably rational person.
The truth is because I am a rational person, I know better than to believe a lot of things. I know better than to believe that global warming is just a myth. I know better than to believe that systems of racial, social, and economic injustices have been absolved. I know better than to believe that the Sunday morning brunch wait will, “just be 15 more minutes.”
And to be honest, I know better than to pray.
Because I’m a person who believes in doing things that make sense.
I know better than to do things like get down on my knees to talk to someone or something that I can’t elucidate or articulate or touch with my bare hands. I know better than to believe in a God that sees war and strife and pain and sorrow and seemingly does nothing—a God that feels so very far away. And I know better than to surrender to something that I cannot understand. So then why, why, do I pray to something that I know better than?
The reality is that in my time of theological education, I have seen behind the Great Wizard’s curtain. And what I have seen, doesn’t exactly match what I always thought was true. There are more days than I’d like to admit, that I have a hard time praying. Days that I leave the classroom de-mystified doubting, and disappointed because the God that I constructed in my imagination years ago gets cut off at the knees. Because I can’t make sense of him, or her, or it. Because the brain that has been taught to question and study and push and prod and grapple and tear apart every word can’t comprehend this God.
So why do I pray even though I know better? I pray because I have to. I pray because even when I feel nothing in my heart, my knees still need to touch the cold, hard tile. I pray because of the way the Prayer that Jesus prayed stings my ears every time our lips say those words, “as we forgive those who have sinned against us.” I pray because of a God who’s ‘Irrational Rationality’ deep down makes more sense than anything I’ve heard in a classroom. I pray because when I do it moves my heart in ways that my brain cannot.
I think it is embedded in my bones—the need to surrender to this God. It is frozen in the marrow of who I am to trust the unknowable. To stop. To kneel. To give it all up. And try again tomorrow.
Please don’t be mistaken by my words. Because despite emotionally manipulative television, I am a rational person. What I am not saying is that we need to stop thinking. What I am not saying is that the brain is our enemy. But what I am saying, is that God flips the thing on its head. Because the last becomes first And the children know best. And as much as my brain may want to justify and apprehend it—at the end of the day, I can’t. Because when I lay my head on the pillow at night, the love of God calls me back. No matter how far I may have wandered that day.