I have a chalkboard in my kitchen that I write special requests on, so I have a daily visual of prayer requests burdening the hearts of my friends and family.
It's super cute--got it at Kohl's--and it says "When the prayers go up.." on the top and at the bottom it says "...the blessings come down." I liked it so much I got it hung in record time. Usually things bang around the house for a couple of months before I find a permanent home for them AND find wherever I stashed the hammer and nails, at the same time. When the stars align, the pictures get hung.
You're on it, you know.
I pray for you, dear reader, even though I may not know you personally or ever meet you. Whatever prompted you to stop by, God is in it. And the same God Who directed your path to fall my way today, cares about your worries and woes, and so my chalkboard scratchings include a reference to you (how DO they get that chalkboard art to look so good? Mine always looks like an eight-year-old with poor cursive skills used sidewalk chalk to write with).
Lately, however, the chalkboard just has not been big enough for all the needs.
And yesterday, as I sat in prayer meeting once again not sharing my own requests in the light of all those other truly crucial and important ones, I thought to myself, "I need to be on the chalkboard."
Interesting thought. If I could bring myself to write myself down, how would I phrase my request?
Would it be big, taking up the whole space, because I feel like screaming it?
Or would it be small, written along the bottom edge, because screaming won't help?
Would it be wordy, as I tried to encapsulate what I wanted done about each of the areas that feel so out of control right now?
Or would it just say "Lord, HELP!" as I gave up trying to explain the inexplicable?
I won't write it down, I know that. You won't ever walk into my kitchen and read, "Lord, bless Lyssa today" on my chalkboard. Writing down my own name on my own prayer list would be a most un-Midwestern thing to do. I live in a fly-over state, people. Maybe if I was closer to a coast.
(I'm kidding. Do NOT send me letters about that. I don't care where you live, if you were raised with values of humility, reticence, and stoicism, you'll have trouble sharing prayer requests till the day you die. Fact of life.)
I remember three years ago when I had my breakdown. I say "three years ago" like it is a done deal, safely in the past. I now know that I started my journey to breakdown long before that day in January three years ago, and that journey continues today. Those who've walked that road tell me that it was a good decade or more in the making, and coming out of it will be at least as long.
But, I remember a conversation with my mom during those dark months. She asked me if I had prayed for myself. I kind of laughed, startled momentarily out of my sloggy depression. Of course I had prayed about it. Right? Wait.
Praying about it, and praying for myself... two different things.
But, Lord, I'm from the Midwest. We just don't pray for ourselves. We pray about things, about jobs needed, about medical worries and straightened finances and the rising creek. We pray for other people's children, other people's illness, other people's straying relatives.
If "Lord, HELP!" ever crosses our minds in reference to ourselves, it certainly never crosses our lips.
Well, we don't really need to actually verbalize it, right? After all, Matthew 6:8 says "for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him."
You know before I ask. Omniscience in action.
Yet, somehow, the asking is necessary.
Ok. I'll give you that. But, yeah, writing it on my chalkboard... tantamount to sharing it out loud... not going to happen. I'll write other people's names until the cows come home, but mine you will not find. I did pray for myself three years ago, and You answered, as You said You would, in sweet and soft ways, a drip at a time like summer raindrops on dried-up-crunchy grass, until my soul was watered and green once more.
But somehow here I am again, not nearly dead like before, but withering, withering up and drying on the vine once again, prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Soul-shrunken and in need of prayer for myself. Not my things, not my people, but myself.
Like a child who fell down, calling for it's father and knowing with simple faith and complete certainty that Daddy is COMING, I call for You.
You are coming. I await Your arrival.
Oh, there You are.
I did not have to wait long.
I did not have to wait at all.