No, this isn't a post about Superman. Or Seinfeld. And if you understand how it could be about either of those things, you should be my best friend.
I've been saying the word "bizarre" a lot lately. Bizarre. Bizarre. Everything is bizarre. It looks really weird when you see it written, doesn't it? Bizarre. It's so—bizarre.
Have you ever caught yourself saying the same thing over and over? Perhaps your friends refer to it as your "catch phrase" (whether or not you know it). My college roommate's catch phrase was, "Like it's my job." As in, "I have to clean my room like it's my job," indicating the urgency and fervency with which she had to do said task. Sometimes she'd add, "Like I get paid by the hour." It was really funny. I use this one currently, and people think it's hilarious. Some people think it's my catch phrase, but I know where it came from. Most things people think are my catch phrases come from obscure sketches on Saturday Night Live. If they only knew!
I guess the thing that bugs me about saying the same things over and over again is that I become predictable. It can also become somewhat annoying to people who have to listen to me all the time (say, my husband for example). "That's the fourth time you've said 'bizarre' during dinner." The quality of conversation goes way down if he's just waiting to count my bizzares.
Sometimes repetition can dilute the meaning of the word, too. Maybe the first thing I pointed out was bizarre, but the next few things could have just been odd. Bizarre is kind of a strong word. Something has to be way out there to be bizarre, so I'm being hyperbolic in choosing bizarre over odd. But being hyperbolic makes me more like Jesus, so perhaps I should stick with it!
Dilution of meaning is one reason the name of God is so holy and shouldn't be taken in vain, I think. You say it a bunch of times in the wrong context and it loses its power. People throw around phrases like, "Oh my god!" all the time. I always cringe. But most exclamatory words like that have their origins in something religious. "Gosh" and "golly" are forms of "God." "Geez," and, my personal favorite, "jeepers" are most certainly a softening of "Jesus." I'm going to have to start making up phrases just to avoid accidental blasphemy. How about I steal Annie's "leapin' lizards!"?
That wasn't actually the point of today's post. I've kind of wandered. Sorry about that.
I was going to say that sometimes in our prayer life, we get repetitive. We say the same things over and over again, and they lose meaning. "Dear God, thank you for today." I say that every time I pray. What does that even mean? Do I mean that it was a good day, so thanks for that? Or just thank you for giving me a new day to live? Thank you for the breath in my lungs? Am I thanking him for day as opposed to thanking him for the night? According to Neil Diamond, I'm supposed to thank the Lord for the night time instead. And, you know, I do what Neil Diamond says.
When I was younger, I always asked God to forgive my sins. Just a blanket statement like that, "Forgive me for my sins." I didn't specify what my sins were. Is that repentant? Does that count? Just in case, I should probably go back and ask forgiveness for third grade as a whole.
Our prayers should have meaning. We should have conversations with God like we have conversations with anyone else. Lofty language and repetitive phrasing doesn't bring us any closer to him. He wants me to say, "I've had a really lousy day. This is why." Or, "I really messed up. This is how. Please help me!" I just need to be myself with God and connect to him in a truly meaningful way without pretense. Can you imagine if you had a list of phrases to use every time you had a conversation with your best friend? It would get old. And he/she might think you were crazy.
Try something new when you talk to God today. Really think about what you're saying and what meaning it has. And if you'd like to share what your repetitive prayer phrases are, I'd love to hear them. Lets me know I'm not bizarre!