Since having our precious girl, praying has become a more regular part of my life. On nights when I am on bedtime duty, after reading a story, I dim the lights, and I whisper out loud some variation of this standard greeting:
"God, Charlize and I come to you tonight to thank you for another day of life, we ask you keep Your Love in our hearts and to keep our family bonded closely always."
After that my prayers vary based on what is happening that day, some times I pray for a particular person/people who are in my heart that night, A LOT of times I ask God for increased patience and kindness (work in progress).
In the days following the inauguration, I felt (and still feel) tense, angry, hopeless, and so my prayers began to include a recurring tone:
"God, guide me in what is right, show me what I can do right now to fight off despair and to keep Your Love in my heart. Show me the right way, show me what to do to make this world a better place for Charlize to grow up in."
I also spoke to other spiritual people about my feelings, and mostly they responded sincerely and confidently "God is in control"- and while I agree that is true, it wasn't quite a soothing as intended.
Then the following Sunday we attended mass and our pastor said: "When Jesus came to Andrew and Peter, at the Sea of Galilee they stopped what they were doing, they walked and they followed him. This is important to remember, the disciples were not passive, they moved, they walked. God's people don't sit in darkness, they get up and walk to the light."
It was a light bulb moment! Yes God is in control, of course God is in control, but that doesn't mean we get to sit leisurely and wait for the light to come to us. We have to get up and walk. The sermon reaffirmed my instinct that I should be doing something to fight off darkness, but what? What could be my daily practice or action to stay sane, loving and helpful in these troubling times?
As is normally the case for me, I found the answer in a book. On a different Sunday afternoon, browsing the book store, I spotted a cover that instantly caught my eye. The title was Love Warrior, and the cover art featured an abstract heart, with the distinct form of a woman on fire. I picked it up to examine the art up close, then I saw Oprah's Book Club sticker, and purchased it on a whim.
This post is not about Love Warrior, which was an engrossing, some times difficult, mostly uplifting read about love, marriage, infidelity, and redemption. But Love Warrior turned out to be God's answer to my prayers, not because the book spoke directly to what I was praying for, but because it introduced me to Glennon Doyle Melton.
My experience is that God doesn't lay the answers out at your feet, you have to be paying close attention.
As I was reading the early pages of Love Warrior, and realized that Glennon was a self-proclaimed "Jesus Freak", I worried that I just spent my money on some hidden conservative Christian agenda. I am paranoid about this, when I encounter people who identify as Christians, I worry if they are far-right conservative, I worry that they are people who use Christianity to act as judge and jury of everyone around them. I hate that I have this prejudice, and I love that Glennon turned out to be the exact opposite of those things. The best way for me to describe Glennon is that she is the kind of perfectly, imperfect Christian I strive to be.
Through picking up Love Warrior, and learning more about Glennon, I have connected to a community of people who Love God by LOVING EACH OTHER. Glennon has a wonderful online community called Momastery (not just for moms or women or Christians). There are posts about current political issues, ways to help and support each other through difficult personal issues, there are funny posts about family life, and posts about serious injustices in the world. But the most wonderful thing about Momastery is that it provides the opportunity to help others in need and various options to help including answering a letter request or a prayer request, making a small donation, sponsoring a family's holiday wish, or joining a particular group/cause. Small but meaningful actions.
Since finding Momastery I spend a few hours each day going through the archives and everyday I read things that speak to my soul. I read about people who are walking to the light, people who are fighting darkness with love. Momastery and Together Rising has helped volunteers serving Syrian refugees, people who work to end human trafficking, people providing maternity care in Haiti, people going through person struggles. Its a gathering place for people who stood up against wrong by doing one small right thing.
God's answer to my prayer: Become a Love Warrior Olivia- Love Me, by Loving the people all around you. All you have to do is the next right thing.