Letters to God
I wrote my first letter to God on January 4, 2003 (*sidenote: that was also the day Steve and Lori tied the knot… HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!). Prior to that day, I’d kept journals/diaries, but there’s something so much sweeter about keeping an ongoing letter to my Creator.
One of the things I love about letter writing is that it’s altogether romantic… in both senses of the word. It takes me back to a simpler version of myself and the world, reminding me of the Katie who wrote a love note to my 5th grade crush – complete with ‘yes’ and ‘no’ boxes. It reminds me of a time when the internet was some newfangled thing that no one understood or cared about and of how fun it was every time I wrote my grandmother’s address onto an envelope to be snail-mailed. Letter writing provides an opportunity to say those things that are too hard to say out loud – “I’m scared,” “I love you,” or “Forgive me”. My heart is never more honest, accessible and gentle than when I’m putting pen to paper.
Today’s letter to God was fraught with teary doubt and honesty that’s too audacious and shameful to own up to in real life.
“Abba – I’m lost… Did I misperceive… Part of me is bitter… but I can’t ignore the fact that it’s probably a deficiency in me… You know me. You love me. Yet I find myself hiding from You… I don’t understand and can’t control… Sometimes I think I do it because I can’t stand to be still. I’m a chicken with my head cut off.”
At the end of the school year in 2003, Mt. View had its first shot at winning state. We were three wins away from the trophy, and it was the bottom of the fifth inning. I was on the “mound” with a 1-run lead against a decent team. There was a runner on first, with 1 out when I gave up ground-ball single to center. It shouldn’t have been a problem, but our center fielder booted the ball, which rolled forever so that the runner scored from 1st and the batter ended up at third. A sac fly scored her, and we’d lost the lead.
I wish I could tell you that I was fine with it. I was conscientious enough that I gave my teammate a few words of encouragement and a pat on the behind as we went into the dugout, but there was a fire raging inside of me after that error.
I’d done more than anyone should have to do to make it this far. I held every single pitching record the school had except for most losses in a season. I held records for single-season home runs and slugging percentage on offense, and most put-outs for defense. Why couldn’t they just stop the ball? All she had to do was sit down in front of it and let it hit her. That would have kept us from losing the lead.
Regardless of how my team lost it every time there was any pressure, I was bound and determined to win that tournament. I was on-deck, thinking about how unfair it was that I had to do everything on my own. My teammate who was up to bat walked, and a skinny girl off the bench was sent in to pinch run for her. She advanced to second on a wild pitch, and I hit a double to score her, tying it up. A ground ball to the right side moved me to third, and a throwing error scored me.
We were in the semi-finals.
I was really thrilled about our prospects at this point. The team we were playing had managed to knock a much better team out of the tournament in their previous game, so rather than facing a 6’1” pitcher throwing 60 mph, we faced a pitcher who wouldn’t have even made varsity at Mt. View. She was probably throwing about 50 mph, with her only other pitch being a change-up she’d hang over the outside corner. She was afraid to throw inside, so all we needed to do was crowd the plate and sit back.
Needless to say, I was a bit upset when we entered the third inning with no score. I sat their line-up down in order and was confident their hitters had never seen anyone throw 60+ before, much less someone with two breaking pitches and two off-speed ones. Yet, their lead-off hitter was a slapper who managed to get her bat on the ball – even if she was impressively late. The little dinker she hit trickled down the third base line and my teammate fielded it easily just before throwing it several feet over the 1st baseman’s head and into right field.
Okay. So my perfect game was gone, but the error didn’t damage the no-hitter I had going so far. The batter laid down a sac bunt to advance the runner, so we should have had 1 out with a runner on second. Instead, my 3rd baseman fielded the bunt, then threw the ball into right field again. Now, it was runners on second and third with no outs.
I was starting to get a bit angry (though of course it didn’t show… I was the poster-child for teamwork and leadership). Did I have to do everything for them?
I struck out their 3 & 4 hitters, leaving us with two outs. The runners didn’t matter so much at this point. All I needed to do was get the hitter to ground out and we’d be fine. I jammed her up and in with a rise ball she managed to ground softly to third… and you won’t believe it, but my third-baseman lost the game for us. Rather than just easing the ball over to first, she wound up and threw it directly at the ground, and it bounced into right field again, brining in two runs.
I couldn’t believe it.
We went into the dug out and for some reason, my third baseman wasn’t finished screwing us over. Rather than taking a breath and calming her nerves, she worked herself and everyone else into a frenzy – jumping around and talking smack about the rally she was about to start. In reality, she walked up the plate and swung at three pitches out of the zone… an example everyone else decided to follow.
“You guys need to calm down,” I told them. “You’re running around like chickens with your heads cut off.”
I wasn’t saying it to be harsh, but come on…
If only they’d understood the analogy, maybe they would have figured it out. But they didn’t, and we were eliminated from the tournament.
“The Parenthetic Interval”
When there was no one there to help me out in the tournament, I kept my cool. My teammates felt were afraid they’d mess up… and directed themselves right into self-fulfilling prophecy.
Theoretically, I know that I’m inadequate and that God is here and has things covered. So why am I a chicken with my head cut off?
In chapter 1 of A. W. Tozer’s God’s Pursuit of Man, he answers that question:
“…we secretly think of Him as being absent, and we think of ourselves as inhabiting a parenthetic interval between the God who was and the God who will be. And we are lonely with an ancient and cosmic loneliness.”
I’m a chicken with my head cut off because I don’t know the things that I know. I know that I’m inadequate and I know to rely on God. Yet, Tozer is right. I’m a chicken because my secret thoughts are that God is interesting to think about. It’s interesting that He has done things in the past and will do things in the future (even things that affect me on a personal level). Yet, at any given moment, you can bet that I’m completely unaware of His current nearness.
“…how wonderful is the sense of someone there,” Tozer writes, and I can’t but agree with him. I’ve lived most of my life with the feeling that I have to do everything because there is no one capable. But – oh – how mysterious is my current sense of Someone there.