Speechless Prayers Might Be Your Best Prayers (Blog post by Beth)
But God Prayers (Blog post by Beth)
Friends Find Out They Are Sisters
Questions for Reflection
In each episode, we offer you a few prompts to think about how that day's conversation applies to you. Our supporters over at Buy Me a Coffee now have exclusive access to the PDF versions of all our Questions for Reflection. Join us today!
1. Have you had an experience like what Steph and Beth shared about talking with God? What was it like for you? If you haven’t had that experience, how do you feel about what they shared?
2. What does God’s voice sound like to you?
3. Do you think people who talk to God are “weird” or “crazy”?
4. Think about some practical ways you can improve your prayer or mediation life (or your quiet time). Make a list of 2 or 3 things you can try this week.
Beth Demme (00:04):
Welcome to The Discovering Our Scars Podcast.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:06):
Where we have honest conversations about things that make us different.
Beth Demme (00:09):
Our mission is to talk about things you might relate to, but that you don't hear being discussed in other places.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:15):
Our hope is that you're encouraged to have honest conversations with people in your own life. I'm Steph.
Beth Demme (00:19):
And I'm Beth. On today's show, we're going to have an honest conversation titled, "Are You There, God? It's Me."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:26):
Then we'll share a slice of life and the show will close with questions for reflection, where we will invite you to reflect on the conversation in your own life.
Beth Demme (00:33):
We're recording remotely today. I might sound a little bit different. My audio might be a little bit off because I'm in my home office. Through the wonder of technology, Steph is in the podcast studio. How do I sound, Steph? Do I sound like myself?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:45):
You sound good, yeah. Sound clear, I can hear you.
Beth Demme (00:51):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:52):
I think we're ready. I think let's do it. What are we talking about today, Beth?
Beth Demme (00:55):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:56):
As a pastor, I think you would be the right person to explain this.
Beth Demme (01:00):
Yes, now that I'm Pastor, I have all the answers when it comes to God. Let me just lay out those answers for you.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:06):
Just to clarify, y'all can't see her face, but it was very much-
Beth Demme (01:09):
That was sarcastic.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:10):
... a sarcastic face. Go on.
Beth Demme (01:11):
Yes. I don't have all the answers, but I do have an active prayer life that I am happy to talk about. This idea of Are You There, God? It's Me. Yeah, I talk to God. Do you talk to God?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:26):
Yeah. I mean, I just got off the phone with Him.
Beth Demme (01:32):
The phone, huh?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:32):
I asked Him if He could get rid of that COVID thing, I also asked Him if He could get me a pony in two years, because I wanted one when I was a kid, but then I stopped, and now I would like one again.
Beth Demme (01:46):
Okay, but in two years?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:47):
I also asked for ... Well, in two years because I have the dogs right now. I don't want the pony to scare the dogs. But I think in two years, they'll be more adjusted and be okay with a pony.
Beth Demme (01:56):
Did you also ask for more land for the pony?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:59):
Yes, of course. I asked for a giant house with a ... Well, no. I asked for a tiny house with a giant garage, and a decent sized yard and a track in the back for the greyhounds to run on.
Beth Demme (02:12):
This is great. You've put in your order.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:13):
Beth Demme (02:13):
No problem, right?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:14):
Yeah. It was a number-
Beth Demme (02:16):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:16):
Number 14, actually, is interesting.
Beth Demme (02:20):
We're being a little bit sarcastic about all of this. But we do want to have a conversation about talking to God, and how that can get weird sometimes and how talking about talking to God can get weird sometimes.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:34):
I remember hearing people say that they talked to God, and growing up, through church, there would be certain people that would say they talked to God and God told them this and God told them that. I remember really thinking like, "That's not true. That is silly and that is not accurate, and these people are just saying that because what am I going to say to that? If God told you to tell me to do this, what is my recourse? How can I say no? God did not tell you that. I have no idea. I have no way of proving that."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:05):
I always thought it was very much something that people almost made up, or I didn't really think ... To me, I looked at prayer, and prayer differently than when people say they talk to God like they could audibly hear God. I just didn't believe that because that never happened to me. If I can't see it and hear it, it's not true. Was my belief when I was younger, by the way.
Beth Demme (03:35):
The idea that people would hear from God seemed far fetched, or God told me to do this, or I felt like the Spirit was leading me in this direction. I'm trying to think about Christianese ways that we say [crosstalk 00:03:47]
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:48):
I mean, what do you say to that? "God told me that this or that," or God is ... It just is like a stop block. It's like, "Okay, God told me to stop talking to you." "Okay, great. See you later or not." I don't know.
Beth Demme (04:08):
Is that an actual example? No one ever told you that, did they? "God told me to stop talking to you?"
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:12):
No, but I could see people. There's people that I'm thinking of that I won't mention that I know Christians, "Christians" that I know that I could easily see saying that, "God told me that you're not a good influence for me. So I'm not going to talk to you anymore." Not to me specifically, but just in general. I could see people saying that. No, I haven't been told that.
Beth Demme (04:34):
When we had Samuel Moore-Sobel on to talk about his book about how his face was burned in this terrible accident, or incident really. Anyway, and someone from his church told him that they had been praying about what had happened to him, and that God had told them that it wasn't his fault, that it was because of his parents sin. I am suspicious of that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:00):
Beth Demme (05:00):
Right? I am dubious of that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:05):
Even if that was true, how would that be helpful? How would that be helpful information to share with somebody? Like God told me that your parents sins caused this. What? Yeah, those kinds of things are definitely not helpful, and those kinds of things are what lead me to believe that it's not true that people can talk to God. When I was growing up, I just didn't believe it, and there was a lot of fake Christians out there and around me, especially in high school. There was the Christian group, and I wasn't in that group, even though I was a Christian. I wasn't the we are Christian all the time group. You know what I mean. You know that group.
Beth Demme (05:47):
Yeah, sometimes it can feel like a performance, I feel like people are putting on a performance to make themselves look good or fit into a certain box. It sounds like that made you doubt when people were like, "Oh, yeah, I heard from God," and you're like, "No, that's not how God works."
Beth Demme (06:07):
I definitely think it's one of those things that it's easier to believe once we experience it for ourselves." It's like, "Oh, that's what they've been talking about." I also think that it is a very individual experience, and so the way that God sounds to me might be different from how God sounds to any and everyone else. But I don't think that means I'm not hearing from God.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:32):
Yup. Well, I'm curious, growing up, when you would hear people say they talked to God, what was your thought about that?
Beth Demme (06:40):
I don't really remember hearing people talk that way growing up, and that might have been a reflection of the kind of church that I grew up in. I grew up in the ELCA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I would say that what I learned in that church, so many good things, so many incredible things, a sense of belonging, a sense of God's love, a sense of inclusion, so many good things. But I also learned on some level that faith is private. There was not a lot of ... We didn't stand up and share prayer requests, we didn't talk about hearing from God in that way.
Beth Demme (07:21):
I think that we probably had different experiences in that respect, just because we grew up in different denominations, different flavors of Christianity. I do remember wanting to hear from God, and I wondered if because I didn't hear from God, if that meant that maybe God wasn't real. My solution to that as a teenager was to talk to God about whether or not God was real. Now looking back on it, right? I realized the underlying assumption there is that I'm talking to someone. I still had some sort of core belief that God was there and that God was real. But I just remember wanting to hear from God.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:03):
Have you ever heard from God?
Beth Demme (08:04):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:05):
Have you ever actually talked to God?
Beth Demme (08:09):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:09):
Do you remember the first time?
Beth Demme (08:11):
I don't specifically remember the first time that I heard from God, because I just remember there have been times. But one that was especially meaningful to me was, I was about 26 or 27 years old and I was married, but it was late at night, and Stephen had gone to bed so I was by myself. I was sitting in our living room and I was in this ... I was just feeling anxious in myself, I was just worked up about lots of things, I guess. I remember that the room felt dark, and I remember that life felt dark. I prayed to God, and I said, "Listen, if you're real, I need to know that, and if you can help me in this darkness, I need to know that, I need to hear from you."
Beth Demme (08:58):
I heard in my head in a voice that sounded like my own voice, but was not my own, I heard a reference to a Bible verse. When I looked up the verse which ... This was such a profound moment. Of course, I should remember the exact verse citation, but I don't. I remember that it was in Matthew and I looked it up. I was really surprised because it was Jesus talking about light, and it was Jesus talking about himself as ... In my interpretation, [inaudible 00:09:32] talking about himself as God.
Beth Demme (09:34):
I felt like here I am in the darkness, and I really didn't know the Bible well then at all, and I was given this verse that really answered the exact struggle, really spoke to the exact struggle that I was experiencing. That was an important moment for me, a watershed moment. Okay, God is listening, right? God is real, God is listening, and in the way that the answer came, I just knew that it wasn't from me because I just didn't know the Bible well enough to be able to retrieve that information. That was one of the really profound times that I heard God talk to me.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:10):
It sounds like you were in a low place and really struggling, and so you were fully open to hearing God?
Beth Demme (10:20):
Yeah. Have you ever heard from God?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:23):
I told you I was on the phone with Him earlier.
Beth Demme (10:25):
You know what I mean? Have you really heard from God? Because I have other experiences I could talk about, but they all have that in common actually, where I really had to get to the end of myself to really be able to hear what God was saying.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:40):
Yeah. Yep. I mean, I have similar situations for sure, and it echoes that same concept of being low and just being so low that I'm open to anything. My first time that I really talked to God and realized, oh, this is not a bunch of junk, this is actually a true thing, like I said, it wasn't until I experienced it that I really believed that God does talk to people. I was in my 20s, younger than you probably, but probably around the same concept, and I was really still struggling with self injury and wondering why I still struggle with it, because I had done so much work but was still struggling.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:36):
I was at my lowest and just ... I remember I was laying on my bed with my head where my feet normally would be. I don't know why I was reverse on the bed. But I was on the bed, and I was just broken down and looking for answers. I realized that I couldn't find them anymore on my own, and I needed something bigger than myself to help me really understand how my life has come to be where it was. That's when I ... Yeah, I was yelling at God. It was less of a prayer, and it was more of a conversation. It was more just like, "Why God?" Yelling, I guess. I remember asking why do I struggle with self injury? Why is this? Why is this?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:28):
I remember seeing a scene in my head, very vivid of something that happened to me when I was a baby. It was very clear, it was very quick, and then it was over. It really explained why I struggle with self injury. Then I set in my head what was that, and then I heard God say, "That is your truth. That is what happened." I went on to have a conversation with God, and I knew it wasn't me. It's so hard to explain because saying it, explaining the story and it's in my book, it feels really odd to talk about and to try to explain it because it almost feels like unexplainable, how it feels and how you know it's not you.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:21):
How I knew it wasn't me and how I knew I wasn't hearing voices on my head because I had a mental illness. How I knew, but I just knew, and God spoke in a voice that I could understand. I've had many experiences since then. I've asked God, "Why do you sound like me? Why don't you sound like thee or thou and the Bible God?" I was told it's because the voice is a voice I can understand in words I can understand. Yeah, that was my first experience, and I have had many experiences since then.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:01):
It is definitely ... Every time I talk to God, it's very ... It seems like it could actually be scary. Like, "What is this like? Am I actually talking to God? Am I talking to something evil? What is that?" I have struggled with that, and I have ... For a couple years ago, I talked to my sponsor about spiritual warfare, and what that meant and how you can separate that you're actually speaking to God and not to something sinister, and that's a whole different conversation. But-
Beth Demme (14:36):
So you said that you heard God in a voice that you could understand. Did it sound like your own voice or did it sound like a separate voice?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:44):
It was a separate voice. I grew up in the church and they use male pronouns for God as if God can be siphoned down to a one single gender, and so I did hear a male voice speak, and I tend to think of God as male. Although lately, after we've had conversations about gender and all of that, I have tried to not use male pronouns for God and just use God instead of He or Father, and not to the point where I can completely ungenderized God.
Beth Demme (15:27):
Yeah, and I think-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:27):
I don't think you have to also. God is God of your understanding, so it's what is the most comforting to you? I don't think you have to refer to God as male or female, or I don't think that is something that people need to spend time or struggle with. But it's something that I have wanted to make a priority.
Beth Demme (15:52):
Well, I think even in the church when a male pronoun is used for God, even the idea of God the Father, that is not intended to convey a gender about God because God is outside of gender. Right? Gender is a human construct. God is bigger than that beyond all of that. God says, "Let us create them in our image, let us create humankind, let us create them male and female." When I hear you say that you grew up with hearing the male pronouns for God, as did I, I don't think that that necessarily means you're trying to assign a gender to God or that I'm trying to assign a gender to God. It's just sort of the shorthand, I mean, for a long time. In the English language, the male pronoun was the gender neutral pronoun, which doesn't make any sense, but that's how it was. That's how we were taught. I think that's where some of that comes from.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:45):
Well, and it's confusing because isn't God supposed to be Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
Beth Demme (16:51):
Yes. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yes.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:53):
And Son is Jesus.
Beth Demme (16:55):
Yes. Jesus was male.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:56):
Who was male.
Beth Demme (16:57):
Yes. [crosstalk 00:16:58] therefore for male, yes.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:00):
Yeah. That also makes it complicated too. I think it's a hard concept for, and we've talked about it before, just the concepts of Christianity and why some denominations really dumb it down too much or put certain-
Beth Demme (17:19):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:20):
Beth Demme (17:21):
... [crosstalk 00:17:21] put God in a box, yeah. Another time that I heard from God was in another real transformative moment for me was ... I have probably talked about this on the podcast before because it was truly so transformative. It's so important in my life that I talk about it all the time. But I was at a low point as a mom. I really felt like I was failing as a mom. I was talking to God about how God had probably made a mistake letting me be a mom. That it really like, "I know, this is what I asked for. I know that you, God, walked with us through every step of these adoptions. I love these children so much, but I'm not good enough to be their mom, they deserve someone better."
Beth Demme (18:09):
What happened, the way that I would describe what happened is that the Holy Spirit really walked me through this series of steps about, well, what have your children done to earn your love? Nothing. Nothing, right? They just exist, they just are and I just love them with my whole self. I love everything about them. Okay, what could they do that would make you not love them? Right? At this particular time, they were toddlers and toddlers can be difficult people. It's like, well, is anything about how difficult they're being, any of that make you not love them?
Beth Demme (18:40):
No. No, I love them. I just love them so much. I love them so much I want them to have a better mom, right? Then it was like God turned that around on me and said, "Well, that's how I feel about you. There isn't anything that you can do to earn my love, there isn't anything that can make me not love you. That is unconditional love." That really just opened up my heart and my spirit to just so many things to a deeper understanding of who I was in God's eyes, and so who that means I really am and really opened up my heart to ...
Beth Demme (19:20):
I mean it really did make me a kinder person. It made me more accepting of other people because I didn't feel judged or minimized. Once I could say, "Okay, I am in touch with my own faults, right? I am not a good enough mom. I know that this is true of me, and yet I know that I am fully loved, and I hear God's saying that I am lovable and I believe that." It really was very transformative for me. I have walked through that series of questions, and I have made that turn with many, many moms, especially in that season of mothering where they have toddlers, and it is powerful. Again and again, it is powerful.
Beth Demme (20:12):
But it was another one of those moments where I was at the end of myself, right? When I really reflected on that, what I realized is, and I've done some writing on this, I'll put a link to it in the show notes, but separate from that experience, if I had talked about it, I would have said, "Well, when I get my life in order, God and I will be ... then I'll get to fix some things up with God. Or when I'm living right, then God and I will have a strong relationship," as if God was waiting for me to accomplish a series of things or live a specific way before God was going to speak to me.
Beth Demme (20:50):
What I realized is that's just not true at all, that God is always there, always reaching out. In United Methodism, we would call that prevenient grace, right? That God is not evaluating us to wait for us to be good enough. It's just that our walls in those low moments, our walls get broken down enough that we're vulnerable enough to actually hear and receive from God.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:15):
It's interesting to me because there are certain psychedelic drugs that people take, and they talk about having these just crazy experiences, where they talk to God, or they see things from their past and all these things, and then things are so clear when they do these things. It's interesting to me, I've never partaked in these things. I'm not 100% against them. I personally probably would be too afraid to do it because there's a lot involved. But anyways, when I hear people share these experiences, I'm like, "I have those same kind of stories, but I wasn't on drugs for them."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:58):
It's interesting to me. I guess what it made me think of when people share those stories, it's like, "Wow," and I believe them. They were on drugs, they learned and saw all these things and had these very emotional experiences. I'm like, "I believe them" because they were on drugs, that could change those things. But it's interesting, because then when I think of my stories that I've had, where I've had these very emotional experiences with God and hear God, I think are they as believable as someone being on drugs? Because there's something easy as humans, we can easily say, "Oh, drugs created that, easy." But then when I share my story, I'm always like, "Well, do people just think I'm crazy? Because there was no drugs involved?" I don't know. I didn't know if it was any-
Beth Demme (22:45):
Am I crazy? Wait, am I crazy? Because I did hear a voice. People who hear voices are crazy people. Maybe. Or if I can't [crosstalk 00:22:54]
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:54):
Give a reason why I happened. Yeah.
Beth Demme (22:57):
Right? Then does that mean I have to validate their experience?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:02):
Well, yeah. Sometimes I just think it'd be easier if I had drug experiences. Because it would be easy to explain, "Oh, because of the drugs." It's more complicated than that.
Beth Demme (23:15):
Well, you said something earlier too about wondering if you are praying to someone or something that was evil. That was interesting to me because I've never thought of that. I never thought I was making myself susceptible to evil by opening my heart to God.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:36):
It comes from ... I have a couple of friends that have shared stories of dark things, things they referred to as demons, that actually scared them enough to leave the church and to walk away from the church and to not be as involved. Those are their stories, and I'm not going to go deep into those. But having heard those deep things that were shared with me, that's when it made me think, "How do I know? How do I know that it's not evil that I'm hearing and that it's purely God kind of thing?" It's like I said, that's a longer conversation. If we want to do an episode about that, we can.
Beth Demme (24:21):
We should totally do an episode about evil because I'm so curious about it. There have been times in my life where I was like, "I don't know about evil," and then I was like, "Oh, no evil," have some awareness of it, that evil is real, and actually-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (24:36):
I think we have to be aware of evil in the world and dark forces because what I've learned from the people that I've shared in my life, they weren't aware of it, and when it happened, it scared them away from God. That's exactly what evil would want. I do think it's something that it's scary and something that we don't want to talk about and don't want to think about. But, yeah, that might be something worth throwing on the schedule and [crosstalk 00:25:04]
Beth Demme (25:03):
Yeah. I mean, anytime someone is baptized in the United Methodist Church, part of the vows that we take together is that we renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, we reject the evil powers of this world, and then we accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice and oppression. We acknowledge that they are real.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:27):
We acknowledge it, and we also are denouncing it, yet we don't really discuss it beyond that. It's in the vows or something, but we don't actually have ... We haven't really spent time actually digesting what that means. I'm curious, do you set aside prayer time on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?
Beth Demme (25:52):
Yes, I pray every day, and I start every day with prayer. That hasn't always been my discipline, and there are times when it slips from me. But it is important to me that I start every day that way. Pretty much the first thing that happens when I wake up is, I say, "Good morning, God." It's almost my first thought. What I would like to be better about is setting aside more time for what I would call spiritual retreat, where I just take a half a day or a day or a weekend, or whatever it is, and really spend time in prayer and in meditation. Although I am good about daily prayer time, I do wish that I was better about taking extended time to really engage in prayer and meditation and contemplative prayer, which is the blending of the two.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:40):
When you have your prayer time, do you always hear from God? Does God always answer you in an audible voice?
Beth Demme (26:49):
No. The audible voice is rare. But more often than not, I feel a sense of comfort and peace. I would say that that is something important to realize about prayer, is that it isn't always about us talking, for one thing, right? Sometimes it can just be those moments of contemplative or reflective silence, where we are opening ourselves to be able to hear or to receive a feeling. Or, like you saw, where you see something, you're given a vision or a memory. There are lots of ways that God communicates with us, and it's not always audible.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:35):
I was just curious. If you don't audibly hear God, if you feel like you're like doing it wrong or like it's more like a special thing.
Beth Demme (27:45):
Yeah, I know. Yeah, I hear what you're saying, and I don't. I don't feel disappointed by that. Because I have enough experience now of hearing God's audible voice in the moments where I really need it that I can rely on those experiences. They're like benchmarks, right? I remember, okay, I remember that this happened and I'm not going to discount my experience, and I'm not going to try to explain it away. I'm going to just rest in remembering that I will hear God's audible voice when I need to, and in the meantime, I'm going to receive from God and all these other ways.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:20):
When you have prayer time, and your God time, is there any part of you that feels like it's homework since you're a pastor?
Beth Demme (28:30):
That's a really good question. I think there are times when that has happened, but it's pretty easy to recognize that that's happening, and usually, that's only happens when I'm overly busy. What I have learned time and again also is that because God is outside of time, that prayer time never makes it so that I don't have time to do what I need to do, which is weird to me because there are many days when I put too many things on my calendar, more things that I can get to, and yet that 15, 20, 30 minutes that I spend in prayer, it never makes me late, never makes it so that I can't get done what I need to get done. I don't really know how that happens.
Beth Demme (29:16):
I mean, it seems miraculous to me just as the person that's happening to. I would say that it seems miraculous. I do think it's important to remember why we pray, and there was a time when I thought that we prayed to change God's mind. There are some examples of this in the Bible, right? Where someone asked God to do something different. In this conversation with God changes God's mind. That I think has gotten misconstrued at times to be that, "Okay, if we ask God for a certain thing enough, if we get enough people praying, if enough people ask for healing for this person, then God won't have a choice, God will have to answer our prayers."
Beth Demme (30:05):
The power of the collective prayer. I'm just not sure about that. It's not that I think that it hurts God. I think God is outside of us being able to harm God. But just the potential then for it to be that we are manipulating God in some way leaves me uneasy. It makes me uncomfortable. Also, that God would be collecting a certain amount of prayer before God took action, almost like there's this payment that's due, that makes me very uneasy.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (30:40):
Yeah. What about people that do identify as Christ followers or religious or spiritual, and they haven't had these kind of moments? Are they just faking it, and they're not really Christ followers?
Beth Demme (30:57):
I definitely wouldn't say that. I mean, I think if you are someone who wants to be in relationship with God and you haven't felt God's presence or you haven't heard from God, or there's something that you're really wanting that you haven't received, I think it's okay to name that and to ask for it. Again, not because you're changing God's mind. But really because I think something changes in you to open you up to whatever God is trying to do.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:31):
Beth Demme (31:32):
I believe that we're each a unique creation by God and that we each bear the image of God, and all of that tells me that God is wanting to be in relationship with each person, that God loves each person. If you are reflective enough to know what you're missing or what you long for in your relationship with God, I think that you'll find it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:58):
Yeah. I think we try to put a timetable for God. We try to lay out a timetable, "Oh, by this age, I should have X, Y, and Z. By this time, I should have heard X, Y, and Z." God doesn't work like that God. Like you said, God is beyond time and all of these things. Yeah, I would never tell somebody that because you haven't had an experience like mine, that you're not worthy of it, that you're not a true follower. Nothing. Everyone's experiences are different, everyone's place in life is different.
Beth Demme (32:36):
Yeah, I agree. There can always be a sense of not yet. I haven't experienced that yet. It doesn't mean that it won't happen.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:42):
Beth Demme (32:44):
Hannah actually gave me permission to share this. My daughter, Hannah, has been on the podcast before, she [crosstalk 00:32:49]
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:48):
Which episode was she on?
Beth Demme (32:50):
She was on the Period episode. I don't remember what number, where we talked about menstruation. She had to take the ACT for the first time this week, and she was really unsure about it. She had done a prep course and she had done what she could do. But time management is often an issue for her on those big standardized tests, and so she had asked some friends to pray for her that morning and she knew that I was praying for her, and she said, "And then I realized, I could pray for myself. So I prayed before I went into ACT."
Beth Demme (33:28):
She said it was really incredible because I knew that I had enough time. A combination of the strategies that she learned in her prep course, but also this reassurance that she had gotten through prayer, she felt God's presence and how she was able to manage her time on that test. Now, some people might say, "Why would God care how much ... Why would God care anything about Hannah taking the ACT," right? I don't necessarily think that God does. But I know that God cares about Hannah. Because Hannah was worried about it, then I think it was an opening for her to experience the love and presence of God, because she opened herself up to Him.
Beth Demme (34:11):
I do want to say that I would have discouraged her from a vending machine approach, right? If she had said to me, "I don't need to prep for the ACT because I'm going to pray that God just gives me a perfect score on it," then that would have been a different conversation. Right? Well, why would God do that, and why would you expect God to do that? Like we were joking at the beginning, right? About you putting in your order with God for your pony and the house and the land. Yeah, "And God, I'd like that on a timetable of two years." We joke about that, but we know that God is not actually a vending machine, and it's not like prayer is the money we put into the machine so that we get our order back out. That is a transactional view of God that is very human and very cultural, and is not reflective of a healthy relationship with God.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:06):
Having a relationship with God doesn't give us an excuse to not do the work. What that means is study for our test. That is not the purpose of God. It's for us to just sit back and be like, "Well, God will fix it for me." I mean, I can't imagine.
Beth Demme (35:23):
Right. I don't have to wear a seatbelt, and I can drive any car I want and I don't have to wear a mask.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:28):
Yeah, and seem it's-
Beth Demme (35:30):
Come on, COVID, [inaudible 00:35:31] on me. No, God has given us so many tools to be wise and to be responsible and to be careful, and He's given us free will. God has given us free will, and so we want to not misuse that. We have so much fun making this podcast, and we've heard from some of you that you're wondering what is the best way to support us. We've decided to expand the podcast experience using buymeacoffee.com. You can go there and buy us a cup of coffee, or for Steph, a cup of tea, or you can actually become a monthly supporter, and that will give you access to PDFs of the questions for reflection, as well as pictures, outtakes, polls, and more.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:14):
The kinds of things that we would put on social media if we had a social media channel, but we actually don't for the podcast because we decided from the beginning that we didn't want to add to more white noise in your life. One of the great things about Buy Me a coffee is that you'll be able to actually get an email when we post new content. You can go straight there, and you don't have to deal with ads or being bombarded with other content. You see exactly the content you're looking for without a bunch of distractions. We plan to post probably once or twice a week, and we're excited to get your feedback as members on our Buy Me a Coffee page, which we are lovingly calling our [B Mac 00:36:46] page.
Beth Demme (36:47):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:47):
B Mac. You'll be able to find a link in our description to find out more and to sign up.
Beth Demme (36:57):
I hope that didn't come off as too preachy or pastoral. That was not my intention. I get a lot out of my prayer life, and so the question of-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:09):
But [crosstalk 00:37:10] you forgot to do an altar call. Well, let me do it. Okay. I don't know. I don't even know how they do it. What is an altar call? Now that I mentioned it, you have to say what an altar call is.
Beth Demme (37:22):
Well, an altar call is when you let folks know that the altar is open if they would like to dedicate their lives to Christ.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:32):
There's a lot of denominations that that is something they do at the end of every service.
Beth Demme (37:37):
Sure, including funerals.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:39):
Beth Demme (37:40):
Sometimes including weddings.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:42):
Beth Demme (37:42):
It can be done at every opportunity.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:44):
Also, a musical. I was at one where at the end of a production, there was an altar call. Yes.
Beth Demme (37:53):
That can be very meaningful for people, to be able to be invited to do that and to be able to make that dedication. I tend to be a little softer about it, if I'm going to do one, and it usually is related to the sacrament of communion and just knowing that the table is open and the altar is open, and that anything we have that we need to bring to God, that God is big enough to receive that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:20):
It's basically in church when the pastor invites you to come in the altar, and essentially, it's where you can accept Christ into your life and-
Beth Demme (38:30):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:32):
... become a Christian is what that would be.
Beth Demme (38:37):
That is what the phrase refers to, yes.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:38):
Refers to, yeah.
Beth Demme (38:39):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:40):
But would you have to be at an altar for that to happen? Is that-
Beth Demme (38:43):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:44):
... a place that that happens?
Beth Demme (38:45):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:46):
Do you think that's the place that most people take that step and become a Christ follower? Is it mostly at altars of churches?
Beth Demme (38:56):
It's not where it happened for me, so I don't know.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:59):
Beth Demme (39:00):
Yeah. As for us, we're 0%.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:04):
Beth Demme (39:06):
I know that it is meaningful for many people, and that that is an important part of many traditions. I don't want to minimize it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:14):
No. Of course, yeah.
Beth Demme (39:14):
It just isn't part of my own personal-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:16):
But anyone can-
Beth Demme (39:17):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:18):
... accept Christ at any place at any point in their life. Is that correct?
Beth Demme (39:22):
Yes. All right. I have a fun but weird news story for you again, because I feel like this is really adding a lot to your life that I'm bringing you these interesting news stories. There were these two women who were working together at the same restaurant. It was a restaurant called The Russian Lady. They were both waitressing there, and they both became really good friends. Right? They bonded over the fact that they both had Dominican Republic tattoos, a random tattoo. As they became friends, they realized that they were both adopted.
Beth Demme (40:03):
Then they looked at their paperwork and realize they were not related in any way, but it's just this coincidence, is something that they shared in common. All of that happened in 2013. Well then, a couple of years ago, 2018, 2019, one of them actually reconnected with her biological family, and put things together in a way that was different from how it was put together in the paperwork. They ended up doing a DNA test, and it turns out they are biological sisters. Not just that they're biologically related, but that their actual biological sisters, which I think is so cool.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:38):
Wow, that's crazy. How did they have the same tattoo? Did they get the tattoo as children?
Beth Demme (40:44):
It's not real clear in this article, which I'll put a link to in the show notes, but it was like at some point before they met each other, they had separately gone on these adventures, and they've had resulted in each of them getting this tattoo about the Dominican Republic. Anyway, I mean, they do look similar, they're both really pretty. But one has curly hair and one has straight hair. But other than that, they wear it the same way, and just so random they would end up at the same restaurant and then being best friends and then find out that they actually are sisters. Who knows? Maybe they have both been praying to have a sister. We don't know that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (41:25):
At the end of each episode, we end with questions for reflection. These are questions based on today's show that Beth will read and leave a little pause between, and you can answer them to yourself or you can find a PDF on our Buy Me a Coffee page.
Beth Demme (41:36):
Number one, have you had an experience like what Steph and Beth shared about talking with God? What was it like for you? If you haven't had that experience, how do you feel about what they shared? Number two, what does God's voice sound like to you? Number three, do you think people who talk to God are weird or crazy? Number four, think about some practical ways you can improve your prayer or meditation life or your quiet time, make a list of two or three things you can try this week.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:08):
This has been The Discovering Our Scars Podcast. Thank you for joining us.