My definition of Prayer is this: Prayer is anything I need to say to move myself forward in life toward greater wholeness and health. Sometimes what I need to say is a lament. Sometimes what I need to say is gratitude, so much gratitude. Sometimes what I need to say is, "I'm not okay" and sometimes I need to say the truth...
When I'm feeling particularly melancholy I will talk myself into a place of peace. Some seasons of life require prayer in the form of self pep talks on a daily basis or even a minute by minute basis. Just on a good day, I have to remind myself of beauty in the world so that unvacuumed floors, three year old tantrums, spilled cereal, poop accidents, and more spilled cereal don't gloom me into a depth of depression no amount of wine and chocolate can scathe. I've found that if I speak beauty before I ever catch a glimpse of it then the sight of it will approach eventually and with much more haste.
"Being a Mom IS important."
"I am of great value to at least five other human beings and that is enough to make me invaluable."
"I love my life, I simply love my life."
"I have so much. I have SO much. So. Much. I have so much. I have SO MUCH."
"Today will be a happy memory for my children when they are grown."
I don't feel those things in the moment but if I think them and speak them, I will eventually feel them, believe them and live them. Simple thoughts that when repeated over and over have great power in my life. I tell myself it will be good or it is good and eventually I feel it. When I don't feel happy, I choose happy. Disclaimer: This is not a way to gloss over life. I think you all know me well enough by now to know that's not a practice I would ever be tempted to participate in but just in case it was beginning to sound like I'm suggesting you just tell yourself your troubles aren't really troubles, I'm not.
I am describing my method of self mental health care. It's never to be taken to the extreme of rose colored glasses that deny life's darkness. Sometimes, when life is dark, we have to live in that darkness. However, light has great power even when the light cannot be seen. I am a person who struggles to see light in the day to day. Some of us have to work just as hard, if not harder, at mental wellness as we do to keep our love-handles in check. I battle depression. I battle it regularly. Some seasons are better. Some seasons blow. Life is always uphill. One healthy way of finding joy, choosing joy, and making my life really come alive is to very intentionally and with mass amounts of effort, speak truth and beauty into my life or as I like to call it, pray.
"I am a child of God."
"I am good."
"I am loving."
"I am loved."
"I add value to this world."
I wonder if maybe we speak better of ourselves and then we are better. I wonder if in the Christian world, calling ourselves sinners all of the time, actually only leads to... more sin. What if we said, "I can feed the hungry" and then we fed hungry people? What if we said, "life can be more than this" and then life became so much more? I think what we speak has so much power, even the power to change us. Maybe even the power to change the world. I think we speak truth and then we believe it and then we live it. I think we speak lies and then we believe them and then we live them. What if we stopped calling poor people lazy? What if we told ourselves every day that God is not an angry God but a loving one full of grace and compassion? What if we kept spreading the rumor that God is WILD about all of us misfits and aren't we all misfits? What if we believed we were meant for greatness because we started out whispering to ourselves in the shower under a cocoon of shampoo, "you were meant to do great things?"
I know I'll never tell my children that they are sinners. And I'm not at all worried it will create a mindset of self reliance because I think we actually need God the most when we do good. So I'll tell my children they are good and they do good and they'll know they need God, they'll know they have God.
I think somewhere along the line Christians began seeing darkness everywhere. I think that's backwards. As Christians we should see the light and name the light. Call it out and live into it. See more good than anyone else is capable of seeing. In the prostitutes, tax-collectors, dirty, sick, needy, poor, downtrodden, hurt, lonely, miserable... see good, call it out and live it. See God. In every human, in every life, in every situation, Christians are called to see beauty and name it! We're called to see the resurrection in every crucifixion.
You were meant to do great things. You are good. You are beautiful. You were meant to be you, just as you are. I believe that.
I speak it. I believe it. I live it. Amen.