Lately I've been corresponding with a woman who faces some of the same vicissitudes I've been living with. It's been an interesting correspondence because we have almost nothing else in common besides this one struggle. Granted it's something that tends to loom over our lives like a mountain looms over a horizon. But other than this one mountain, we're very different people
I was asked to email this woman by my middle sister, who is a close friend of hers. I've shared a meal with this woman before so she isn't a complete stranger. We had a rather uncomfortable conversation in the kitchen of my sister's home that day, too. Really, really uncomfortable. I can't even remember how we got into it, but it was immediately clear that what I expect for my children, what I hope for them is light-years away from what she does. We both want our children to become certain kinds of adults, but what that means to each of us is utterly different. In fact, our definitions are fundamentally different.
So it's been a difficult thing to communicate with her. For instance, she asked me what I do to keep from being completely overwhelmed and distracted by the struggle. The obvious answer is, "I pray." This, of course, is the truth. And if I was speaking to a person face to face, I would surely answer just that way. However, I didn't tell this woman that, because I don't quite know her. Maybe that's exactly what she was asking me, but what I know about her--that she's my non-believing sister's friend, and a non-believing Jew at that--make me think it isn't. So I quell at being so transparent with her.
Do you ever do that? Have someone ask you a question to which the most straightforward answer would mean that you'd have to reveal that you are a believer, yes, one of those--and you know it, can feel it in the pit of your stomach and the instant sweat in your palms, and you should just answer. I mean, isn't it true that the simplest answer is usually the best one? Even, or especially, when it comes to talking about God. But instead, you just maneuver yourself around with some convoluted answer that has you talking to yourself later, "Are you kidding me? Did you really say something that foolish so you didn't have to admit you were with Him." And then the dang rooster crows and you realize what you've done. What you've really done.
But I'm sitting here tonight writing this post, when I should just open an email and write the truth. It's keeping me awake not to. And maybe, no matter what SHE thinks she's asking, God needs her to hear me say it. Just to hear me say, "I pray." I'm a person who believes that God is, that He is present to our suffering, and that He answers prayer. Just that. At least just that.
Before that rooster crows.