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Chaos, Social Justice, and Facing Fear in order to Seek God's Face

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.  Isaiah 26:3 A warning in advance-in...

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Three-Word Prayer (what is yours?)

I have battled numerous storms mightily over the past few years…losing my career, struggling to find my identity (because like so many of my generation I defined myself by what I did BEFORE by who I was AND to Whom I belonged), a medical diagnosis that changed our family forever, growing up, growing older, finding my place. I am reminded of a book I studied in college less for its subject matter but more for the profoundness of its title…if I was going to theme this phase of my evolution, I would entitle it When and Where I Enter.

when all I can manage is to focus on is the next hour,
I quickly eliminate EVERYTHING non-essential
and live with only what I need,
including my three-word prayer.
I grew up the daughter of a Baptist preacher. There was never a time in my life without Faith. Faith was a discipline, a routine; I practiced my faith religiously.  Religion can be a habit, like the way you brush your teeth, and that, as a foundation, is not a bad thing. Discipline is admirable; at least it was a start. I was also raised a very good girl, which means I’ve always understood what to say (or not) and when. My facades are flawless and numerous, and this too is not entirely a bad thing; I am merely exposing different facets of my personality based upon my surroundings. I expose myself in practical fractions.  It’s what we do.  We are work professionals.  We are mommies.  We are corporate wives.  We are neighbors.  It’s not a bad thing, and our society is so naturally fractured that it’s probably something people expect. I became so proficient at adapting that I stopped thinking about it at all. I wasn’t being dishonest per se, rather I was being politic. And then, storms came.

Here is what I know of storms. When they hit, there is very little time for extraneous. Example-when critical illness hit our family and I resurfaced after about two weeks, people who hadn’t seen me or heard from me asked, “what happened?” “where were you?” or my favorite, “why didn’t you call me?” In each case, they were well-meaning and well-intentioned. HOWEVER, can you imagine yourself in the midst of hurricane, pulling out your cell phone to notify the people on your friends and family list that your life is spiraling out of control and you might be unreachable for the foreseeable future? Perhaps you can. When stuff gets real for me, when all I can manage is to focus on the next hour (not even the next 24 or 48), I eliminate EVERYTHING non-essential to live with only what I need (which surprisingly, isn’t much). That, dear one, was the origin of my three-word prayers.

Three-word prayers were my ultimate confession. Three-word prayers were the moment I conceded that if God knew my heart, it was time to stop being politic and get right to the heart of the matter (since He was the Heart of the Matter).

“I give up.”
“Lord, have mercy.”
“Help me, Jesus.”
“Really, God, REALLY?”

The moment I embraced three-word prayer was the moment I acknowledged that I could trust myself to be real with God. That I wasn't afraid to let Him see "the ugly cry." That since He fostered my brokenness, had waited patiently through all my failed attempts at total surrender, He could handle the total honesty that simultaneously horrified and terrified me. If He was truly Omnipotent, I was only wasting my own time.

Recently, in desperation, I uttered a three-word prayer. It was the impassioned expression of my hopelessness, the moment when the toddler collapses on exhausted frustration and almost instantly there after falls into a deep sleep. Three-word prayers are the end of the line, but they are the most honest prayers of my life. They concede that I have taken off the mask I reserve for God, and confess that I’m still helpless, still hopeless, still not just broken but ground into dust AND unable to draw another breath except By His Grace and Mercy.

What happens when storms come? What happens once you learn to pray three-word prayers? For me, it was the moment my practical fractions, the multiple facades through which I moved in my every day were no longer necessary. It was the moment of my integration, into just one image, Imago Dei, that being enough.  Perhaps this was the moment I became myself?

“I am His.” That is my right now three-word prayer, but tonight, for this moment, I think I will add one more plea, that being “Give me Grace.”

What’s your three-word prayer? I'd love to know...

OneWord 2015

OneWord 2015

C'mon. Follow along. Please?