Anxiety hit at the same time consciousness did, dense and heavy, suffocating.  Raising my head a few inches from my crumpled pillow, I reached with blind hands toward the snooze button in an effort to beat back the day. Almost simultaneously, reflexively, as my fingers found the alarm, I threw out an old and familiar prayer, “God, please be with me.  Jesus, be with me.” I waved the words like an amulet, to ward off the lost and sinking feelings. 

I’ve spent years telling God what to do.  At first I was quite specific, ticking off requests like an eternal “to-do” list that I might helpfully hang on God’s refrigerator door.  Later, I settled for the more general command in which I simply asked God to “be with” me or she or whomever the situation demanded.  It was as though I was acquiescing in some way, trying not to be such a nag and all – “Ok, God, so I know you’re not necessarily going to do what I want, but could you at least not abandon me?

Today though, as soon as that prayer was flung, it was followed by the awareness that God is always with me and I felt the invitation to pray again a new and challenging prayer, “God, open me to your presence.”

It wasn’t what I wanted – I wanted escape, resolution to the questions at hand – but that prayer shifted me.  In that moment of surrender, something inside me split open just a crack and some of the darkness lifted; almost as though I had been the one holding onto it all along. 

Sustainable Spirituality

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