Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Somebody Pray, Dammit!

If you've ever raised kids, something you've no doubt heard one hundred times is, "But I didn't put it there." or "But, I wasn't the one who dropped it." Of course, those responses follow your very simple request, "Honey, would please pick up that paper cup off of the floor?" I wonder what it is in us that leads us to think, "That's not my job. I didn't do it, so I don't have to be responsible for it." It's just not my turn.
You may have already picked up on the fact, that in my family growing up, there was a good bit of religious.....conflict? confusion? ambiguity? (All of those words carry about the same amount of weight, so I couldn't choose just one.) We were forced to go to church every single Sunday. We sang in the choir, attended Sunday School and went to youth group at night. The whole shebang. So why the confusion? Well, at lunch on Sundays, my parents would ask us what we had learned in church and then immediately begin to pull it apart. I like to believe that it was their sincere effort to make us think for ourselves and question.....everything.
For me, it created a chasm of sorts and caused a great deal of confusion. So, that's the long and the short of it. Religious confusion for a long while.
Here's what is so funny. We always prayed before each meal. Oftentimes we would sing a blessing. We liked that because it was group work and nobody was put on the spot. But on days we didn't sing, here's how it would go:
Daddy: Deanie, please say the blessing.
Deanie: It's not my turn.
Daddy: Martha, it's your turn. Say the blessing.
Martha: No, it's Joe's turn. I did it last.
Daddy: Somebody pray, dammit!
To this day, I can not hear a minister anywhere say, "Let us pray" without adding my own silent word: dammit. Is that funny or is that more religious confusion? Maybe it's both.
When, though, is it our turn in life to do what we are asked to do? When Taylor was born, I promise the question that I wailed in the night was, "Why Me? Why Me? Why Me?" I had tried to live a good life. I followed rules, helped others and loved my fellow man/woman. So, why did it have to be my turn? I asked that question pretty much constantly for the first nine years until one day an enlightened fellow shifted me off of square one. Taylor was getting physical therapy at a local hospital. In the waiting room with us was a quadriplegic gentleman lying back in his wheelchair--also waiting for therapy. Of course, I was pouting and fretting and out-of-sorts because I guess I wanted to be at the white sale at Macy's with all of you. After Taylor had gently rubbed this fellow's arm (Taylor's "hello" that day) the man quietly said, to me, " I used to ask God, "Why Me?". But you know, I've worked through that now. Now my question is "Why not me? Who better? Why not me?" Gulp. Shame. Regroup. Why not me?
Some of my readers recoil at the word, God---maybe just don't have much use for God. Others try to live your lives for God. Both groups, just sit still and listen. It won't hurt. Hear this. This is what I know: God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called. Do you think for one second I was qualified to raise a son with Down Syndrome? That would be a big fat, "HECK NO!" But, somehow, it was my turn to do what was being asked of me. But, my dear readers, you are not off the hook. (Not even!)
You each have your own turns to live outrageously lovingly. I am certain that you can think back over the past two years and come up with a time(s) when you have railed, "Why Me?!" We aren't all called to raise handicapped children. Every single one of us has our "thing." If you can't come up with one, then maybe your calling is to drive the pace car or be on the support team or show up with the supply truck when the rest of us are having our personal tsunamis. But, I promise you that there's a "turn" with your name on it.
So what qualifies us when we are called? Well, coeur is the french word for heart. Courage is derived from the word coeur. That's pretty much it. Heart Courage. Courage from the heart. That's about all the qualification we need when it's our turn to do what we're asked to do in this life.
So, let's all pray, dammit. It's all of our turns. Pray for courage from the heart.