Wicked: An Elphaba kind of prayer

Have you ever felt like the wicked witch of the west? That may seem like an odd question. Especially since most of the time we would like to think we are more like Galinda the good witch, or even the heartless tin man or cowardly lion. Maybe even the heroic Dorothy who saves all of Oz from the terrifying witch.

Maybe this will help clear up my question a bit. The other night I was sitting in my bed reflecting on all the confusing and entangling events going on in my life and it felt like I was searching for something, anything to say to God and figure out how to figure out this mess. It felt like I was grasping at straws. Seeking answers to nagging questions. Looking for peace in the turmoil. Pacing the lion’s cage hoping to find the magical thing that would set me free or fill the hollow emptiness inside.

Being the musical theatre buff that I am, this goose chase my mind was taking me on brought to mind the scene in Wicked when Elphaba is chanting frantically across the expanse of the stage trying something, anything, to make sure Fiyero can’t be harmed. If you don’t know the story, it’s a creative retelling of the Wizard of Oz that takes a look at the witch’s side of the story. It follows the life of Elphaba, the wicked witch of the west, and her friendship with Galinda the good witch and Fiyero, a new boy in school, Elphaba’s sister, Nessarose, and a munchkin boy named Boq. I don’t want to spoil the storyline for those who haven’t seen it, but it comes to a point towards the end of the story where Fiyero ends up running off to help Elphaba and he gets taken prisoner because of it. Desperate to save the one good thing in her life, Elphaba opens her book of enchantments and starts saying whatever she can hoping it will be enough to save him.

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My life has felt a bit like that, and as I mentioned, that scene came to mind the other night as I wrestled with so many of the questions on my mind. I don’t know if you have ever had moments like that, where much like Elphaba in the song, you feel like shouting at top of your lungs, trying to figure what you want to say to God or what you want Him to do. You just keep going round and round not knowing if you are supposed to listen to what He has to say or if you are supposed to spill everything on your heart. You just know that things aren’t right in your life and you have to do whatever it takes to make them right.

Sometimes, you do have so much on your mind, you don’t know what or how to pray. But, that’s ok. You don’t have to have all the right words or have all the right things to pray. God knows what our hearts are trying to say. Even when it seems like our prayers are coming out in gibberish and make no sense to us. If we are praying in earnest to our God, He will hear us. He hears us in our tears. He hears us in our laughter. He hears us when we are so full of sorrow we can’t even speak. Just make sure you do pray, and that you keep on praying. Pour out your heart to your Father and let His never-ending love enfold you.

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The story of Wicked comes to a bittersweet end. Elphaba does ultimately save Fiyero and herself, even though it may not have happened the way she expected it too. But God works like that sometimes. We will ask for one thing and He will give it to us, just not how we expected it to happen. Or, He will give us something else that’s better for us. He knows our lives better than we do and knows what we need. So, when you’re overwhelmed or feel you are just mumbling nonsense, rest in the fact that God has already written your story and knows what the outcome will be.

 

 

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The Storm is Still Raging-Reflections from the Tidal Wave

It sucks to be caught in the middle of the storm. It sucks even more when the storm continues to grow bigger and bigger and you can no longer see the ground beneath you or any of the sights that were once familiar and comfortable. All you see is water and wind for miles and miles and miles….

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How did I get here? Which way up? When did it even start raining?

Life isn’t always calm nor is it full of sunshine and roses. Sometimes we experience little sprinkling of rain here and there and rarely see a truly turbulent storm. Other times what starts out as a sprinkling of rain becomes a pelting of drops that become bigger and harder and faster. Pretty soon the troubles of life begin to flood in all around you and before you know it, you are swept under by the tidal waves raging all around you. The water is rushing and moving so fast now that no matter how hard and long you fight to stay on the surface, the current keeps pulling you under and spinning you around until you no longer which way is up and which way is down.

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A lot of us experience these storms in life but we often bury these storms deep inside. We paint a picture of a calm and smooth sailing surface when underneath we are fighting the hurricanes and monsoons and tidal waves that never seem to let up. But no matter how deep down the storm is, or how well we think we’ve got it covered, it will almost always make it’s way to the surface.

In a sense it’s funny and ridiculous that we feel we have to keep a perfect appearance on the outside because no one is perfect. Sometimes I wonder why we put such ridiculous expectations on each other. God sees us and accepts us as broken, imperfect people that need a lot of work and help. He, a perfect God who should demand perfection, shows endless compassion on wretched souls and wants to help us on our journey. We as humans put such high and unrealistic expectations on ourselves and each other that it’s no wonder people never want to tell others what they truly feel.
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I of all people struggle with allowing other to see the real me. I struggle with how others perceive me and hope to God that no one sees how broken and messed up I am. I dread the thought of appearing weak or incapable of doing something. If I had my choice, I would keep my messy life locked away in a closet and make sure no one would ever be able to discover its contents.

It’s unpleasant to be messy, but maybe God has called us to be messy once in a while. Maybe He has asked us to take down the masks we all put up and be real with each other. The next time you attend church or interact with fellow believers, think about the words of the song by Casting Crowns “Stained Glass Masquerade”
Continue reading The Storm is Still Raging-Reflections from the Tidal Wave