When I was a little girl, I would go to church every Sunday with my mom, my little sister Kaitlyn and my grandma and grandpa. My mom would help us dress up pretty and we would go to Sunday School… which my mom even taught for several years. As did my late Aunt Eileen.
I remember some things about church. Honestly though, the highlight most weeks was that after church, Grandpa would drive me and my sister over to Dunkin Donuts in his big blue Chevy pickup truck to get a dozen donuts to bring back to his house. Sometimes my cousins would join us and we would all play while the adults talked.
Aside from doughnut bribery, church confused me a bit. Even with my Sunday schooling… it was tedius to me and I wasn’t really sure who God was, what we were praying about and what the adults were really getting out of the services. One day I remember being pretty bored in the pew and taking ‘The Book of Common Prayer’ and flipping through each page individually to see how many I could turn in the course of the hour.
That’s my confession.
However… I am older now, and although I don’t go to church regularly, I think I’m finally beginning to understand the concept. And more importantly, the idea of prayer.
When I was younger, I would pray for ‘things’. A Barbie Power Wheels was on my list to God… talking to ‘him’ the way I would address Santa.
A lesson has been surfacing in my life though recently around the concept of prayer.
Things in my world have not been overly easy. In fact, this year has been downright intense. I have had confusion in my relationships, a 600 mile move away from my family and friends, establishing a new home in a foreign-to-me community, the deepening of my own spirituality and the growth of Natural Peace Living… not to mention raising two small girls who will one day hopefully become two beautiful women.
I’m not complaining, I’m just summarizing. With all that being said, I have found myself in the middle of some minor depression, confusion and overwhelm.
Naturally, like most people, when these feelings started to bubble up, I was looking for someone to blame – and certainly not myself. So I turned to my husband. The one relationship at the root of most of my relationships… it seemed appropriate that he be the one to catch my bullets. So I began demanding change in him. I got pretty nasty, critical… intolerable in my opinion… and all the while, my anxiety and overwhelm getting bigger and more uncontrollable.
Finally, a few days ago I addressed the option of prayer.
For me… honestly, the act of praying is something I’m not overly familiar with. Maybe because I don’t know what to ask for… maybe because I’m not a huge fan of religion and prayer to me seems like support for structured religion. Whatever the case may be… it’s an option that I don’t usually turn to.
Desperate times though, call for desperate measures.
After the noise in my head and the confusion in my inner and outer worlds got to be too intense I finally decided to pray.
I prayed for clarity.
It was pretty neat actually… because I really believed that I was heard by God/Source…whoever you want to give credit to.
I began to surrender.
I knew it would be answered.
I knew I didn’t have to take action because clarity was coming.
The other night I fell asleep, alone. I needed some space so I could breathe, bring in some peace and just let myself be and be receptive to whatever was trying to communicate.
At 6:30 in the morning, I felt my husbands arms wrap around me. He held me for several minutes before kissing me goodbye on his way in to work.
After he left, I felt something.
A mantra came to my mind.
God, help me become the woman I’m meant to be.
It was planted in me and for over an hour, I slept with these words flowing like a dream in my head and my heart. These were not my words… they were gifted to me.
When I finally woke up to begin my day, I was still repeating that prayer, or mantra. I realized that it was the answer to my prayer asking for clarity.
God, help me become the woman I’m meant to be.
I realized that the clarity I needed was a shift in what I was asking for. I prayed for clarity… it lead me to realize that what I really want is to be me, to be myself, to feel good, find joy, be peaceful with me and my family, my situations, my partner.
So a clearer prayer was given to me and I have embraced it.
As I was going about my morning, I felt drawn to a book. The book that I picked off of my shelf was one that has helped me in the past… Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. Sarah writes a themed essay for each and every day of the year. I opened up the book to November 13th and felt my jaw drop. The title for this essay: Answered Prayers. In the essay she speaks of how we don’t always pray for the ‘right’ thing. We think we are asking God for more money, but it’s that we want a better relationship with our finances. We think we want a romantic partner, but it’s more important that we be a good partner or be ready to attract said partner. We think we want all of these certain outcomes, but what we want is actually peace of mind with whatever outcome is best for us all.
For me, I wanted clarity.
Then I realized that what I really want isn’t my husband to cater to my every need… but that I can be the woman I’m meant to be, the highest version of myself, the best Sarah I can be… who loves her children, balances her emotions, gives and receives, shows up the best she can for everyone around her… and goes to sleep at night happy and fulfilled.
I have been realizing more and more over the past few weeks the value of being honest with myself. I have been looking in the mirror more, looking into myself more and coming to terms with who I am as a person and who I show up to the world as. For a while, I was damaged… I was confused and lost and it showed in my day to day experiences. I realize now that it’s no ones job to fix that part of me… and they couldn’t even if they wanted to.
At the heart of this rant are some very profound, yet incredibly basic themes. I need to look inside and find that stillness. That’s where God is. My problems aren’t because of certain situations and a lack of romance… they are because for a while now, I’ve cut off my connection to who I really am.
I’ve realized also that when I was younger, church was not able to show me what I am seeing now.
Prayers are always answered.
Even if the answer is just a re-wording in your request.