By: Jana Greene
The great Anne Lamott likes to say that her two favorite prayers are “help, help, help,” and “thank you, thank you, thank you.” And I agree that those are perfectly adequate, perfectly reasonable prayers. They are also the only ones we can voice at times.
It’s one of those days.
The kind of day where general malaise is completely overwhelming. When I’m trying to mentally work out a few personal situations, and meeting with COMPLETE overwhemled-ness on every front.
I started to post a prayer request this morning on my Facebook page to ask my long-suffering friends to please pray for me, because I’m having a day of consecutive panic attacks and wrenching pain, but stopped myself because HOLY SHIT, I don’t even know where to start.
What am I even asking people to pray FOR? Everything is kind of running together. Where does one issue start and other stop?
I feel like I need a special IRS- type form letter for listing out all the things that my spirit, mental health, and clunker of a body need attention for. Like, maybe I need to itemize or something. It’s our tendency to like to identify and specifically pray for things as if they were itemize-able, isn’t it?
I don’t want to be that one asshole who is always asking for prayer for the same damn issue over and over, for years and years. That is a MAJOR bummer to everyone involved in trying to “pray me better.”
But sometimes our anxieties and depression and needs and concerns all like of get stuck together like a yucky wad of Life Goo. A big, heavy, sticky, ball of slime that started at the top of the hill as ONE thing, but has slowly rolled downhill and is swallowing every piece of absolute rubbish, until you can’t tell what it’s made of at all. It’s just a ball of chaos, worry, crushing depression, hopelessness.
And too heavy to lift at all.
So essentially, I am coming before God this morning with my unwieldy, completely nonsensical ball of Life Goo, and petitioning him to chuck it into a black hole, or at the very least, help me carry it. Or at the very VERY least, TELL ME HOW TO HANDLE IT. Because there is no worse feeling than being so overwhelmed, you cannot function.
My current physical health, which is thus: I have been in pain every day – to some degree – since 2008. Needless to say, Christian hard-liners get sick and tired of praying for me because everyone (including me) loves a good “before and after” story.
And although I get respites, there is no permanent “after.” That’s the “chronic” part of “chronic illness.”
And what else do I need prayer for? Here’s a synopsis, very over-simplified.
I’m not doing so well financially, as I cannot work outside the home right now. I need a job from home, or to get approved for disability, or find out I have a very rich old relative somewhere out there who wants to make me benefactor (c’mom, 23 and Me, step up to the plate already….don’t I have any rich third cousins once removed???) For the record, ALL of these possibilities give me anxiety on top of existing anxiety.
I lose sleep every night worrying about my children. All of them.
I’m afraid I’ll lose the mobility I have and thus lose so many of the things I still can do and enjoy doing.
I worry that I’ll get worse and worse until I can’t handle living like this anymore. I’m just being honest. What if self-care for days like this of eating pizza, listening to music, talking to God, writing, painting, spending time with friends….what is none of these healthy coping strategies (except for pizza…..which isn’t healthy but is good for the SOUL) doesn’t cut it anymore. What if I get to the point where I can’t laugh about things, and find that incorporating humor into my “wellness” (or “just don’t die-ness”) plan isn’t helping anymore.
What if I start to drag my family and friends down with me? I HATE the way my illness effects everyone. I guess I’ll be all alone forever. (SEE? That strategy is called “SPIRALING” and I’m quite good at it, if I do say so myself…)
I need to feel like the Living God isn’t “punishing me” with sickness (yes, I’ve come a long way in the Grace Gospel and no longer agree that God is “punishing” me, although that fundamentalist stuff runs DEEP and every one in a while rears it’s ugly evangelical head.)
I’m afraid that all my best work – my writing, my art, my poetry – is over and I’m passt my prime, destined to crank out crappy words, and paintings, and concepts, and all other manifestations of creativity. I fear that I’ve peaked.
I’m afraid My Beloved will tire of my constant illness and chronic pain, and will want to find a more healthy (and less neurotic) specimen with which to share his wonderful life with.
If there are any disastrous outcomes to ANY situation, I will find and assume it is coming to pass when I’m in this mental state. And I don’t WANT to be that way. I want to be a fount of hope that springs eternal. I just don’t have it in me today.
What people may not understand is that even if you pray for me and I don’t “get well,” it is the wellness of my spirit that gets renewed when you pray for me. When we pray for each other. God is not a genie in a bottle. Sometimes the healing we get doesn’t look like what the world thinks it should. It doesn’t mean that your prayers are not the sole and entire reason why I get up another day to fight. Sometimes that’s ALL that gives me that courage.
So, friends? If you’re the praying type, please petition Heaven to send me HELP, HELP, HELP. For what I’ve requested prayer for. And for every other issue that’s part of the ball of Life Goo that keeps rolling downhill.
And you guys? THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.
I love and appreciate each one of you, readers. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, as always, and God bless us, every one.