Timing for a girls’ weekend couldn’t have been more perfect (at what age do I have to call us “ladies”? Never, please?). I was home from Germany for only four weeks and the getaway just happened to coincide.
This group picks up right where we left off; commas end our good-byes. Soon enough, conversation gurgles and swirls, an easy-flowing meander in the way men will never understand but women intrinsically know. Talk was common, the parts of our lives we miss during the in-between, the long gaps of not being with one another, the game of catch-up.
They wanted to know about Germany, and because (understandably) I’ve been asked so many times, I felt like the little old lady who tells you EXACTLY how she is when you ask, reciting acres of infirmity. Except these days, due to my husband’s job, my list sounds like an ad for Travelocity.
How do you explain your impressions after drinking from a gushing fire hydrant for seven months?
I give a condensed, practiced response, the one I share until and unless someone really wants to know more.
One of my girlfriends wants to know more, but it’s not about Germany, per se; she wants to know about me. And, yes, her lips are doing the asking but, my God, her eyes are penetrating mine and she takes hold of my heart, and with both hands squeezing, wrings hard.
“How are you doing with all the changes you’ve gone through the past year? How’s your heart doing?”
I hadn’t seen it coming. Buoyed by laughter and connection and stories, sitting on that bedroom floor with the wall holding me up, I didn’t realize my guard was completely down.
I shook my head slowly no, unable to speak, tears burning my throat and stinging my eyes, my own body betraying me…revealing secret hurts. Relational void, disappointment, rejection, loss. These are First-World Problems I’ve convinced myself, only someone with material excess would dare to ache over these things. I’ve never worried about my next meal or clothes or a roof; my marriage is 25 years strong and my husband loves me more now than he did then, and my three children are well on their way to becoming the young adults I prayed they would be.
How dare I complain out loud or to myself when blessing abounds? The material, yes, but every spiritual blessing, too.
* * * * * * * * * * *
For most of my years, life has been filled to the overflow. I’m naturally wired to see half-full glasses and silvery linings and shiny bright sides.
And yet here I am, barely able to speak, exposed, in front of God and e v e r y b o d y.
This season of Eeyore was foreign, unwelcome, uncomfortable…and messin’ with my head, heart and soul something fierce. You see, I’m inclined to believe life isn’t fair; not in the “poor me” kind of way, but quite the opposite: it’s not fair how much I’ve received. I was fighting the urge to look at the Unfair Life from the other side.
In this fallen paradise, though, isn’t the Unfair Life this life? Doesn’t it serve to remind us we’re not made for this world? Is it not the Unfair Life that stirs a longing for Eternity’s door?
And yet, there’s this Kingdom life, here and now; and is the source of my heartache that I forget where I live, that I sink like Peter because I’m too busy looking at the waves, and without even realizing it, forget that Jesus is right there?
* * * * * * * * * * *
Her question was match lighting soggy fuse and it didn’t do me a bit of good to try to stop those blasted waterworks.
Just then, Jesus-with-skin-on opened her mouth.
“Come right here,” she said, patting an empty spot on the bed next to her. “We’re gonna pray for you.”
I shook my head no again and whispered I can’t and she gently insisted Yes you can…right here (patpatpat).
All the other ones gathered round and close. They touched me with their hands and with their hearts and with their words. They pressed blessing and understanding and healing deep, deep, deep into marrow.
How did they know exactly what to pray? I hadn’t given them details–but in the beautiful, mysterious ways of God, He led them through the veins of my ache and ministered love through these heart sisters.
It could have gone another way, it certainly has plenty of times before. No telling how many times I’ve been asked “How can we pray for you?”; probably the same number of times I’ve asked “How can I pray for you?”
Sharing prayer requests can be a good thing, communicating information that might not otherwise be known. But so many times in my experience, we’ve done more talking about the requests than praying for them.
That day sitting in the center of a bed raw and exposed and snubbing like a baby, with sister-friends surrounding me and loving me out loud, I needed the difference between talking about and praying for. Even if it was a little awkward and I was embarrassed later.
Those holy moments of intercession and my friend’s divine prompting to PRAY and not ASK, have had a beautiful, residual affect in my own life beginning with my own children less than 48 hours later.
Tell me your stories; as you read my account, did it spark a memory when someone prayed for you and it made all the difference in the world to your battered heart? Or perhaps a time you prayed for someone in the moment? Or maybe when you’ve been too timid to pray right then, and instead asked how you could pray later? These are the stories of our lives ~ “…let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” okay?
If you’re a parent to a college student or know others who are, I’ve found a wonderful prayer guide to lead you in praying for this challenging and demanding time of life. Might you share it with your college pastor or someone you care about?
By Robin Dance, author of PENSIEVE, who’s patting the spot next to her, gently insisting for you to Come here!