“Although I’ve been praying and querying, the simple truth is my manuscript might not get picked up for publication,” I said to a former Memoir-in-a-Year classmate. We were attending our colleague’s book launch party, which I wrote about last week. I shrugged. “So, whatever God wants of me.”
She smiled. “I go through every day with my palms open.” Now I smiled. She’s on her own journey in faith and writing, and in that regard, we understood one another.
Prayer is simple.
Nine years ago, in my review of Anne Lamott’s Help, Thanks, Wow, I wrote:
We often try to go it alone, forget to say thank you and fail to notice life’s miracles. On the other hand, we pray for help to pass a test, get that job or protect others or ourselves in harm’s way. We offer thanks for good things and quick sighs of grateful relief when we escape bad things like car accidents. And who among us hasn’t experienced the awe of sky, stars, wind, rainbows or snowfall on trees, the majesty of streams, rivers, oceans, valleys, forest, hills and mountains or nature’s fascinating creatures? Wow. The End. Not quite. Amen, the fourth, culminating and final chapter. And so it is… time for trust and surrender: my huge sticking point.
Because surrender makes me feel helpless.
Change is not simple
In his post on Richard Rohr’s blog last week, Episcopal priest Adam Bucko told of his experience working with homeless youth. He believed he was there to fix their situations, but his highly-praised, solution-oriented, and evidence-based practices weren’t changing anything for the kids. “I started feeling helpless, and my confidence was shattered,” he wrote. “All that I was left with was faith . . . [and] trust that I was where God was calling me to be.” He realized he was the one who needed to change. Not simple. Until he moved into prayer.
“I started showing up for every person who needed my help in the same way that I was showing up for prayer. Gathering all my knowledge and tools and entrusting them to God. Saying to God, ‘I think you’re calling me to do something here. This is what I come with. I offer it to you. Take it. Change it. Make it useful.’”
Change like this can leave us feeling helpless, plain and simple, because it’s about faith.
Faith is not simple at all
After my conversation with my former memoir colleague, I practiced letting go and moved into prayer. That’s when it happened. Late Friday afternoon, an email popped into my inbox.
“Dear Carole, Thank you very much for your proposal submission. I am pleased to inform you that we have accepted your proposed book for publication…”
As I read through the documents, I opened my palms and prayed. “I think you’re calling me to this, and I offer all that I am to you. Take it. Change it. Make it useful.”
But yesterday, kneeling at the altar rail with Keith, I felt helpless. I’d botched a high F while playing “He Shall Feed His Sheep,” from Handel’s Messiah, and was worried about my daughter, and wondering how I was going to accomplish this big task of publishing a book. I opened the palm of my hand, surrendered all, and took Him in. Amen.
Faith, the theme of the second week in Advent. Here is an Advent Trombone Devotional Video produced by former pastor, trombonist, and our small group leader Phil Kuehnert. A simple prayer of change that’s not simple at all.
Link up with Five Minute Friday: https://fiveminutefriday.com/2022/12/08/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-simple/
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