How May I Pray for You?

If you’re stuck thinking everyone else has such a great life and your life is super crummy, then ask someone, “How may I pray for you?”

My ex and I prayed together almost every night. We laid in bed, held hands and prayed before going to sleep. Obviously, we weren’t the perfect couple, he’s my ex. So, prayer doesn’t necessarily fix everything the way we’d like it too, but it definitely puts things back into perspective. For instance, it was hard for the ex and I to stay mad at one another, if we’d just had a fight, when we were finishing the night with prayer. Why? Prayer is spoken to God. Things get real when God steps in or when we step toward him.

Ask someone, how may I pray for you, and instantly, things will get real with them. You’ll watch their perfect life fade before your eyes as they begin to tell you how despondent they’ve been lately, or how they’re marriage is suffering, or their boss is a tyrant, or they’re waiting on health results, or well, a billion things. You’ll see their million dollar home turn into a fortress of suffering right before your eyes. You’ll see those picture perfect photos of summer vacations become facades of joy, posted on social media to prove some point.

So, that takes care of one thing. You thinking you have a crummy life while everyone else is living the grand life. Ask someone if you can pray for them, and the walls come down, and the vulnerabilities come out. But really, you knew that, you just needed to hear it.

Now you have. You’ve heard that their life isn’t so great. That their suffering is real behind the facade. Maybe you just never took the time to get to know them. Whatever the case, now you do. They let down their walls and let you in.

What do you do?

You actually pray for them.

I wish I could tell you why. I wish I could tell you why it is a good idea for you to lift that person up in prayer, or to offer your own requests to God, but I don’t have a big theological reason why. I only know that when I do, I somehow feel as though my walls came down a bit, too, and I stop pretending. I stop pretending that I am in control, or that I know what to do in every circumstance. I stop pretending, even to myself, that I am a font of wisdom.

Oh, I may know my way a tad better now than at 20, but I am still baffled by the all of it. This world is crazy. And crazy is so much better with others than alone.

 

Random Weed Day (And Other Days)

I did learn a few things from my ex. It wasn’t all smoke and mirrors.

Like, don’t drink Mike’s Hard Lemonade before doing yoga. It throws your balance off. And, if you wait long enough, and are still enough, a copperhead will come back out of the woodshed (that you saw it go into 2 days before) and then you can kill it. (Got that?)

In the garden, I learned a few lessons, too. One crucial one was really, oh-so-simple. There’s always poison ivy. My 2016 garden exemplifies this truism. The poison ivy is spectacular while everything else is withering from heat and drought. Which brings me to random weed day.  Without benefit of the ex’s wisdom, I stumbled upon random weed day by myself. Well, that and Impulse Hill, but that’s another post.

It goes like this.

If you’re a gardener and you’ve lived long enough, you’ve planted way more than possible to tend too, and now it’s July with August bearing down on us, and lo and behold the weeds are aplenty. Where to begin? Ugh. It’s too hot to make a plan. It’s too hot to weed. Enter random weed day. You get to go into the garden, miss the poison ivy, but pull a few weeds here and there and bonus, call it a productive gardening day. Yes, that’s the icing on the cake for random weed day: You get to call the day productive. (I have a similar day called random exercise day, which again, is a post for another day.)

When random weed day is over, the garden will still look a mess, but you’ll feel better. A few of the real troublemakers are gone (that oriental bittersweet threatening to take over the hibiscus), so don’t diminish that. The hibiscus now survives the mess another day and soon September will come and you will return to the garden with a vengeance. And, you’ll step outside without wishing to die.

Why must every day end with a clean slate? Why must everyday’s to-do list be marked off right down to the bottom?

Admittedly some days are going to be Super-Saturday, where you wake up with a burst of energy that goes straight on until 6 p.m. when you do open that first Mike’s Hard Lemonade (having already done your yoga). But if I watch Little Kitty and Evil Kitty (my cats, of course), they have such wisdom regarding this heat. Nap on the screen porch, under the ceiling fan, where the dog can’t get to them, and sleep the day away.

It’s like Joe said about doing garden installs in this heat. “My feet feel like they have cinder blocks on them.”

Truer words. I want to follow Evil Kitty’s example, skip being evil for a bit and nap away. I did today, actually. Fell asleep on the glider and dreamed of rain. It was a heat-induced nap that reminded me of childhood and hot classrooms and teachers who bored you silly.

But it isn’t always the heat. Random weed day applies to all sorts of situations. Random friend day. (Like all their stuff on Facebook, but ignore the texts–phone died.) Random healthy eating day. (Throw a salad in with that Panera flatbread sandwich and chips and call it healthy.) Random return phone calls and emails day (close your eyes and pick).

I refuse to believe that every moment of my every day must be productive. Surely, some days should just give way to randomness. Surely, the mind should be allowed to wander every now and again, and the hands find nothing to do except whatever random thing is in front of them. Not every day, but a few random days here and there.

If that isn’t the sort of thing you can abide, then join my ex. I believe he is still sitting, waiting on that snake,

 

 

 

 

 

 

humble pie

Humble Pie? Yes, Please.

Want a piece of humble pie? Try this. Read your old journals. I’ve been reading my old journals. That I’ve written since I was 12. I can’t even.

Describes me from age 12 to say, 45: Narcissistic. Silly. Ridiculous. Delusional.

I know, you’re thinking, uh, yeah. We knew.

Then why the heck didn’t you tell me? But you were narcissistic (and often the victim), you say. True. I’d have thought it was like, so your problem not mine. Like NBD. Learn some boundaries, people. I’m on my journey. You’re on yours.

I wish age wasn’t the thing here. The thing that allows you to stop. Stop the obsessing about yourself. Stop the insanely, crazy idea that you must be happy or well, well, you just must. (Truly, happiness is a state of mind.) I wish age didn’t soften the edges or turn the mind toward others, but it does.

I used to love watching my mother with her friends. They were so very careful with each other’s lives. Their conversations brought ease, distraction, laughter, encouragement, help, or just passed the time. Certain subjects were off limits. The child that died at 40 from cancer. The husband with Alzheimer. The best friend with stage 4 colon cancer. What was the need to discuss, ad nauseam, when nothing changed, and there was still life to be lived?

I hear my younger self’s voice, and she and her friends discussing everything–husbands, kids, parents, jobs, houses, siblings–always purporting to know everything and even better, how to fix everybody. I am glad my silly, narcissistic, ridiculous, delusional self wasn’t completely alone.

Now, like that horror movie you just can’t turn away from, I find myself face buried in my journals, flipping page to page. Humiliation burns into my soul with each new paragraph, but I can’t stop myself. What was I thinking? I wasn’t. I wasn’t thinking or truly, would my rational mind write such dribble?

I want to scream to everyone who knew me then: I AM NOT THAT PERSON NOW.

But is that true? Something to journal about, I suppose.

My prayer, these last 4 years, has been for humility. These journals are a huge slice of humble pie, so prayer heard. I’m not alone. As FaceBook so often attests these days, a piece of humble pie would benefit us all, but I’ll take mine first and I want a large slice, please.

I’ve reached an age where I cannot fathom unkindness, no matter your political affiliations or religion or how right you may be, though I haven’t learned to love the one who is unkind, yet. Name calling and finger pointing make my stomach turn, though I am still stuck on so many stereotypes. Vulgarity makes me cringe, and words that serve no purpose other than to show the foulness in our hearts are simply words I don’t want to hear anymore, though I wonder, especially with my children, do my non-vulgar words build up or tear down?

I ask myself this question, am I still absorbed in me? Unfortunately, yes. May I have another piece of pie?

Am I able to say, I am not that person now? Could I, with confidence, say I have changed?

Maybe I could whisper those words, just barely utter them, but a declaration?

No.

My journals expose the truth of how wrapped up in my life I was, how tormented by my own thoughts I was. It was a vicious cycle. One that had the simplest answer. Put the pen down, close the journal, and GO DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE. My, how I whined. My, how I did not proactively change a thing about myself or my circumstances. My, how I was waiting on everyone else to change. They didn’t.

The lesson I’ve learned, besides my big dose of humility? I’ll quote the psychiatrist who gets credit for me not whining anymore: “Why journal? You obsess enough without it.”

Touché.

The one positive about all the volumes of handwritten agony? They’ll make great fire starters this winter.

I know some of you are thinking, journaling helps me to process. It’s a good thing. I hope it is for you. For me, I have learned that so much of life isn’t to be analyzed, but to be lived. I’ve learned by showing up and doing. I’ve learned to live a life that doesn’t match my dreams, and to make this life my dream. I’m learning to love people who disappoint me. I learning to love myself when I disappoint me. I’m learning that while words are incredible, couple them with actions and you have healing.

My Uncle died yesterday and my cousin remembered him this way, “He hugged you like he never wanted to let go.”

That’s the best way to be remembered, isn’t it? Let’s live that life, then maybe journal that.