faith


As a Christian, I believe in the power of prayer.

As a victim of extended unemployment, I’ve come to change some of my opinions on how prayer works.

I still believe God answers our prayers, the problem is too often we do not pray as we’re supposed to. Let me give an example of what my head is thinking (remember my post on brain fog? yeah, let’s see if we can mumble through this together without me losing any of you):

  • In high school, I might pray that God would help me get an A on an exam. That’s great, right? But God already knows what I’m going to get since he’s omnipotent, right? It’s like when my kids ask for some horrible pure sugar sour patch gummi worms they see in the check out line – sure, they can ask but I already know the answer is NOT ON YOUR LIFE. Doesn’t ever stop them from asking.
  • How then are we to pray, if we know God knows everything that’s already supposed to happen? I really don’t think we’re supposed to ask Him for Things. Good grades, candy, a boyfriend (another frequent high school request), a job. I think what we’re really supposed to ask is for Him to open our eyes, to give us clarity to SEE His works in our lives.
  • Too often we pray, “Dear God, please let me get an A on that European History test, I know I didn’t study as hard as I could have but I need an A to pass the class and not fuck up my GPA, Amen.”
  • We really should pray more like this: “Dear God, you gave me this brain. Help me to use it to the best of its ability, and if the results of this exam do fuck up my GPA, help me to find acceptance and trust that all is in Your Hands and to motivate me to study more next time.”

Does that even make sense?

I guess these thoughts lately have stemmed from others around us praying that “the right person buys the car they need to sell this weekend” or that “the AC in the condo they just bought that died overnight will be covered by the home warrenty.” Like when these things happen (God answers in the affirmative) it’s proof that prayer works and that their prayers were heard. The flip side is that our prayers of “Please send us a job for hubs with a steady salary, benefits, and stability” have obviously been answered in the negative so far. What does that mean? We aren’t praying hard enough? We aren’t praying often enough? It frustrates me to see people asking and receiving as much as it does to hear of folks who have been praying for us throughout this whole ordeal.

I think prayer is a state of mind more than just a specific act. Sure, confessing wrong doings and praising God through your humble on-your-knees quiet times is definitely a good things. It’s the asking. I don’t think we’re supposed to do it. Instead of asking we should be in a constant state of being receptive to God, of being able to hear Him when he does work in our lives. Then instead of feeling so beat down as to why our prayers keep being answered in the negative, we’re actually encouraged to see how despite 2.5+ years without a salary, benefits, and stability we’ve managed just barely.

Even though we are floating in a vast ocean clinging to the last board, that board is still there. We haven’t been forgotten. God has worked through friends and family to not just help provide, but to bless. We’ve made more relationships in the past 2.5 years than we had in the previous 7.5 years of our marriage combined. We’ve given more of ourselves in that time as well. We KNOW what we have is from God, and He is the reason we aren’t living in my parent’s basement. Yet.

So instead of praying for a job, for a salary, for stability, I chose to instead be in a prayerful, almost meditative state – when driving, cleaning, doing chores – and to be reflecting on the faith and trust I need in Him to keep our heads above water. These constant self-reminders of how far God has helped us come as well as a constant seeking of His Hand in the everyday leaves me feeling so much more fulfilled and loving and faithful.

So I’m a Christian.

Those are hard words to type as for a long time I was ashamed of who I was, or rather what I believed. Thankfully I learned that my shame wasn’t in my love of God, but in the way those around me acted who happened to also declare themselves Christian while they partook in legalistic finger pointing, shaming, and lots of hell fire and brimstone. Those things didn’t sit well with me as a kid but I didn’t know how or have the resources to understand why. I struggled through college, still going to church, still thinking you weren’t a “Christian” if you weren’t of an evangelical fundamentalist variety. But I started to open my eyes, first to my parents way of thought (No, people really didn’t give two fucks if I drank a beer, no one thought I was a slut because I watched a movie over at a guy-friends apartment without anyone else being there, and apparently going to a frat party is NOT a straight path to hell, even if you dance on the tables with your girlfriends because the guys were all tools anyway). Then after college I found a church and a denomination that spoke to my beliefs but without all the legalism and with a healthy dose of community to boot. Their youth groups went to build homes and dig proper latrines in the Dominican Republic for their missions trips instead of going someplace and running Bible camps for kids during the day and handing out tracts and trying to talk to people on street corners in the evening. Showing love and humility as a way to spread your faith speaks to me so much more than trying to force it down someone’s throat.

Anyway, as I’ve lived longer in The Big City, found an even better church home with a sense of community that I’ve never experienced before, I’ve been able to think through some other big ticket items. I’m also thankful for my church and the fact that there are people there, for instance, will vote for Hillary, or Bernie, or Rand Paul, or maybe even Santorum or Jeb Bush but even better: we will all still be able to worship together and love one another and share and discuss our differences and similarities over a beer like adults. Whereas a lot of people I grew up with would be HORRIFIED that I not only claim to be a Christian but also support gay marriage and am pro-choice. My amazing sister-in-law summed things up today, the day the Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing gay marriage: “So many rude remarks. Such prideful tones being taken. Not helpful. Either side. Should not our most deeply held convictions compel us to share them with others in a winsome way?” That my friends is the difference between the “Christian” I once was and the Christian I am now. And I am thankful to be in a place surrounded by Christians who think as I do, maybe not on the same side of certain issues, but who agree that love trumps all in how we treat one another.

The short story is we used to be middle class, now we’re not.

I have a lot of anger on top of everything else – depression, anxiety issues, PCOS, and hypothyroidism as well as stress.  Oh so much stress and it’s fun twin excess cortisol production.

My husband was laid off in November 2012. Since then he’s found on and off temp work, sometimes on for months at a time, but often off for an equal amount. He’s also built a shed, worked as an arborist and watched way too much DIY and HGTV. Currently, he’s temping 40+ hours a week plus commuting downtown via metro, but the pay doesn’t cover our bills, nor does it come with benefits like health insurance. So he’s also working as a handyman on the evenings and weekends. He’s good at it, but we pretty much don’t see much of him anymore.

Which leaves me feeling like a single mom with a house and two kids to care for.  Instead of a husband I feel like I have a needy roommate with benefits on occasion, when we’re both not so freaking exhausted. I work as a writer (freelance/ghost) and editor, graphic designer, photographer and run the executive board at the little  nursery school my youngest attends.  I also partake in Muay Thai kickboxing classes 3-5 times a week, which I do not just for the physical benefits but because it’s literally cheaper than therapy. Nothing like kicking the shit out of someone to make you forget all your woes.

I’m trying to be more positive. To not go off and rant everytime I have a willing ear to listen, although I’m thankful for those friends who don’t mind and have been ever so supportive on this depressing journey we’ve been on.

I want to share what I/we’ve learned during this 2.5+ years – about navigating social services, medicaid, SNAP, working with deacons and saving money. I want to reach out to others struggling with extended unemployment or underemployment. I’ve never known anyone in my situation; I want to be friends to those who find themselves in a similar mess. Money is not something people talk about in detail – sure we all known the broad details of someone who gets laid off or gets that big promotion. But the nitty-gritty of day to day life with dwindling resources is too often coated in shame and embarrassment when in actuality it could happen to anyone. ANYONE. We should be able to speak up and reach out when we are in this position; likewise we should be aware of our fellow humans and understand more what is going on in detail whether they can vocalize it or not.

I read once that poverty is a social construct; it’s something you feel when you are no longer able to maintain the social lifestyle of your peers or community that you once could.  I wish I could find the original quote, it was from something on NPR I think. It truly describes where we are.