Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees.
I saw this quote years ago and it has stuck with me. Faith and prayer are hard topics for me to talk and write about. Not because I don’t have thoughts about them – because I have plenty! – but because it can just be a hard thing to articulate. Sometimes faith is easy. And sometimes it’s hard. One thing I know – God is always there. This is my faith journey.
I was raised in the Catholic church. Church every Sunday, no meat on Fridays during Lent, confession – the whole nine yards. After I got married, my husband and I made the decision to find a different church and we were happy with our choice.
And then, on March 23, 2006, I went to bed. I decided to say a more traditional prayer than what I normally did. I listed what I was grateful for, what I needed help with, those whom I wanted God to keep safe. On March 24, 2006, at 3:13 a.m., I was awoken to a phone call from a police officer notifying me that my brother was dead. Everything I thought I knew about faith and God and life in general changed in an instant. Just four short hours before I got that phone call, I had asked God to keep my brother safe. I felt like he ignored me. And I didn’t understand why.
So I quit going to church for a while. I was just so, so angry and honestly, I was scared to pray. So I just tried to be a good person, do the right thing – just the basics. And it worked for me. Eventually, I started praying again. I was a pray-on-the-go kind of girl, and just kind of talked to God throughout the day. I asked him for help when I needed it, thanked him when I was feeling blessed, and just was. God was just with me, even though I wasn’t at church. And I was okay with it. And I felt like God was okay with it.
There were so many times in the years following my brother’s death that my body was raging. I cried, I screamed, I gained weight, I lost weight, I fought with my husband, I forgot things, I was happy, I was sad, I slept too much, I slept too little. Basically, I just could not get it together. And the whole time, my soul was on its knees. My soul was begging God for help, was searching fervently for anything that could heal this hurt. I believe, at the worst moments, every thought I had was a prayer. I just didn’t know it.
Now, I feel closer and more faithful to God than I have in a long time. He carried me through those dark days and heard those prayers I didn’t even know I was praying. And even though I still don’t understand why my brother died or why life is just plain hard sometimes, I know He has a greater reason.
A former client of mine once wrote this quote:
“… consider the possibility that man is to God as a dog is to man, and a dog is to man as a flea is to a dog; i.e., the man, the dog, and the flea, who are merely tagging along for the ride, have neither the faintest idea as to why their masters do what they do nor the means to ever understand why.
The question then becomes: Is God indifferent to us, as the dog is to the flea, or does He allow us to suffer for reasons we do not understand? When someone takes his dog to the veterinarian, the dog has no idea why his master allows pain to be inflicted on him. In the same way, perhaps God doesn’t always give us what we want, but what He knows we need.”
I always think about that – maybe God is taking care of us in ways we just can’t understand. We don’t always understand God’s plan. But we can definitely take comfort in the fact that He knows what we need.