I’ll Pray For You

 

My mother says this to me often. She and I are not of the same religion. Still I am grateful when I think of my name on their altar, where she and her group of friends, some who don’t even know me, bow their heads and plead for my cause.

My friend’s daughter, a Wiccan, says she hopes the Gods smile down on me and that she will send me good energy. I have only one God but I know He loves her enough to hear her plea for energy in my behalf.

My Catholic friend says she will light a candle for me. My son-in-law says, “Insha’Allah, If God wills it,” and then gets on his knees for me at his mosque. My Pentecostal friend says she will pray over me. My aunt says she will ask the elders of her church to lay their hands on me. I am touched by their concern despite the fact that I don’t practice my faith in the same way. My neighbor, who is agnostic simply says, “I’ll be thinking of you.” I’ll take that too.

Whether these people believe in the same God I do, or not, is beside the point. My God believes in them. It doesn’t matter if He is exactly who they think He is because the God I love cares for the compassionate requests of all of His children. And when they raise their voices to Him, in whatever religious place, ceremony, ritual or language they use, I know that His translation skills are universal. His is the ear of a patient father, who feels the worth of our reaching and hears the language of our hearts.

All prayer, all concentrated love and concern for others, counts in heaven.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:26‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/rom.8.26.esv

More from the Bible about Praying for Each Other

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;”
‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭2:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/1ti.2.8.esv

“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/mat.18.19.esv

“Therefore…pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
‭James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/jas.5.16.esv

White Soul Exposed

I’ve wanted so much to reach out every day this past week to tell all of my friends of color that, sure all lives matter…but for me…YOU matter.  You are my friends and I hope you know that I hate how this all feels for you.

I know that despite my cultural openness I am still guilty of assuming and pre-judgement.  I am openly admitting that so that, hopefully, you will forgive me.  I am another victim of the books, movies, music and even cartoon portrayals of black men and women everywhere. In my heart I don’t see you that way but my mind is forever recording garbage.  It is the shaping of misconception; like movies that make you not trust old bridges.

In every movie, that involves an old bridge, something bad happens when you cross it.  Maybe if they filmed happier scenes on the bridge, more often, I wouldn’t be so sure something bad was going to happen when someone went across it.  Nothing bad has ever happened to me on a bridge before and other than seeing some beautiful ones in pictures I’ve never actually seen anyone plummet through one.  I have nothing to base my bridge anxiety on, except those movies; but I’m still unnerved by them.  I think media influence can do that to you; make you feel emotions that you might not otherwise feel.

People of color, who know me, come to know quickly that I don’t judge others by their skin color but how do I express that to those who do not know me? I am always kind to everyone, I meet them with a handshake, a hug when appropriate, and look them in the eyes.  I laugh with them in elevators and ask how their vacations are going when we’re out of the state.  But truthfully, sometimes I am still afraid; afraid of offending you!  So, I say nothing because I’m afraid to say the wrong thing.

I do see your color, I acknowledge it because it’s beautiful and it’s an important part of your life and culture, but I treat you with respect like every person I meet.  Still, I trip on myself not refer to your skin color because I’m not sure if I should use the term African American or Black American or just black.  I don’t tell you how beautiful your weave is or how jealous I am that you can wear the brilliant colors you’re wearing because I wonder if that feels like I am “trying too hard” even though I sincerely mean it.  I want to say something in the summer time about my fear of blinding you with my neon white legs and how I wish I was that beautiful golden brown you are, but I stay silent because I am worried that you will think I’m being fake about it.   I look in envy every time I see a large black woman wearing tight clothing because she is so much more secure in her body than I am in mine, but I wouldn’t say that out loud for fear that she might think that I was actually being condescending and not flattering.

Yes, I am aware of the differences in our skin colors but not in the way you think.  More like in the way someone admires all the shades of blue in the sky at sunset. Yes, I’m sometimes afraid of you when we meet but not for the reason you believe.  It’s usually because I’m wondering if I can smile at you and you will honestly believe I’m not “one of those” white people (insert whatever unkind thing you’ve heard about us).  Yes, my eyes follow your children.  But because I love children and find your children fun to watch or beautiful as teens growing into adulthood.  You are not all the same.  We are not all the same.  We are not all thinking the same things.

Please don’t be frustrated with me for not knowing what to say.  So much has happened in our family’s pasts to make it hard to know for sure how you will respond to me.   I am not my ancestor but just like a new husband I am paying for your ex-husband’s sins until you get to know me better.

So why haven’t I said anything before this?  Because I don’t know what to say.  And I desperately want to say something.  Each time I read Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words, “In the end we remember…the silence of our friends,” I feel the responsibility of saying something I don’t have the right words to say.

What can I say to the people I love and care about (and to others I don’t even know as well) that coming from my white mouth, would not feel like phoniness to your black ears? How can I make you feel my heart when I say, “You matter to me!”, and that I die a little inside as I empathize with the injustices that you feel?

A couple of days ago I talked with a couple on the phone for almost an hour about helping them adopt a baby.  I didn’t know until the end of the call that they were an African American couple.  Yesterday we met with a single, black woman about adopting.  We spent over an hour visiting because we had so much fun and so much in common.  For some of us life goes on the same in both worlds.  We meet, we laugh, we visit, we are touched by one another.  The world does not define us or our relationships.  This cloud exists only to darken what could have been an even more enjoyable relationship.  And yet we each feel the impact as if the world is shaken in two.

And we, straddling the divide, look at that bridge and dare to cross it.

 

© 2016 Dee Shihady, The Quiet Christian
(photos by internet research, not by author)

Love One Another

I find it interesting that Jesus said, “…as I have loved you, so you should love one another.” (John 13:34).  In my mind this phrase rolls around like a ball between two ping pong paddles.  Not just to love each other but to love as he loved.  I suddenly realize why this thought keeps running through my mind.  I’m thinking about how to love one person and he loved so many.

So many of us are trying to do right by our spouses.  That one person we have chosen to love.  Yet the love I feel sometimes looks nothing like the love Jesus had for all of us.  Oh, I know that’s not a new thought.  It just is quite humbling that’s all.

Like some kind of trial run it seems that God said, “Okay, I know you wouldn’t be all that great at loving everyone so how about just this one to start with?”  Then I suppose if He really wanted you to learn to love He would give your more in the form of children that need an incredible amount of patience?

I have to admit I’m not very good at it sometimes.  I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t tell someone that he’s tired of picking up dirty socks and please go brush your teeth before engaging in the morning.  I’m working on that but it did give me a little jolt when I heard those words again…probably for the thousandth time in my life…just never with quite that personal meaning.

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