From Post to Prayer

Goodness me…where to start.

This year. This few months. This week.

The tension, the noise, the fear, the injustice. All of it is just too much sometimes. And yet what are we doing? We are letting it sweep us away.

It’s happened to me lately and I’m just now realizing it.

I try not to read or watch the news too often. To me it’s only healthy in bite-size, honest doses. But I’ve always defended social media, to some degree. I love seeing what my friends are doing! I love the inspirational stories and causes! Yes, I found this cute dress on my Facebook feed!

But lately I’ve caught myself red-handed. I’ve caught myself scrolling past the good, past the new puppy pics and vacation stories to find the controversy. On purpose. Like it’s some tv show I’m waiting to see play out. What extreme view will this person post today? What names will she be called? How does this side defend themselves to that side?

My Facebook feed has become my favorite new reality show.

Yes, I always try to call people out and remind them to love, no matter what. I try to point them to trust in their faith in the least pushy way possible because I’ve seen the fruit produced from my journey. But even so, I’m still engaging in the endless online banter. I’m still stirring the pot by reacting. And there’s a fine line between acting with love and just trying to prove a point.

But today I spent 30 full minutes just reading the back and forth of responses to someone’s post. The harsh words, the expletives, the public lashings in both directions were terrible, and yet I ate it up. Just couldn’t put it down. It was completely sad and completely entertaining all at the same time.

But it’s just for fun right?

Try to remember…on the other side of the screen are people. Actual, real humans. People with their own stories, their own experiences. People who are being verbally torn down and attacked because they don’t feel real. Because how dare they disagree with you. Because it’s easy to say whatever you want when not looking someone in the eye.

How do I feel after reading that enticing online rant? Or trying to prove a point with my quick-to-judge comment? Refreshed? Satisfied? Justified? Usually not. Maybe for a minute or two, and then I realize the emptiness behind it. Half the time I don’t even know this person. Just because I feel strongly about something, that gives me the right to interject without knowing someone’s story or experience? To think I’m the be-all, know-all on a subject? That because I have emotions about what someone said that I have to react to it just to get my rant out? Oh how I wish we could all go back to old school, hand-written, locking diaries sometimes!

It’s hard enough for my middle-aged brain to comprehend all this online rhetoric right now, but I can’t even imagine how the younger generations are handling all the negative energy out there. I’m so thankful that social media didn’t exist when I was an adolescent…but that’s a whole other topic.

My point is this: what if we took all that energy we want to throw into that post, that online conversation, that thing you just want to scream out for all the world to hear, and said it to the One who can really take it? Who can take your screams for injustice? Who can take your mourning and your anxieties and your deepest fears and use them for good??

What if we turned our posts into prayers?

When I find myself in that dark place, when my heart hurts so bad that I feel lost and alone, I go straight to my Bible app. I search for verses to help with what I am feeling. I seek out a story that will center me and remind me that God is good, all the time. And if I really need to, I will sit down and give it all to Him; whether it’s through prayer, through worship, or just being still and listening. I give it all the One who wants all of me, good, bad and ugly. To the One who has offered to carry all my burden without any conditions.

Will there be a risk of a public mockery? Will I be called names and belittled and shamed for all the world wide web to see? Will I loose friends and followers and risk being censored or banned or exploited?

Not at all.

I will be loved.

Unconditionally, unapologetically, eternally loved.

Seems too good to be true right? In this world where we are turning against each other in droves, where people hide behind screens and tear others down in the name of “justice”, where we label and assume and bully and shame in the name of “love”, it’s hard to imagine that there’s an actual safe place to go. We are all increasingly desperate for that safe, loving place. That place where we are loved and heard and held no matter what our opinions are.

It’s available to me, to you, to all. Jesus doesn’t care about your skin color, your political affiliation, your gender, your sexual orientation. The only thing He cares about is your heart. All He wants is a relationship with you. He wants you to come as you are, to lay everything at His feet, and let go. There’s no risk of cyber bullying or public shaming or losing friends or family. It’s between you and Him, and that’s the simple, beautiful truth.

Be mindful that after you give Him your all through prayer, after begging and pleading and unloading the heaviness in your heart, you may not get immediate answers. You probably won’t hear a big booming voice or a crack of thunder (like in the movies!). In fact, you may not see any change at all. But give it time. Prayer isn’t a magic wand you can waive over a situation to make it all better. It’s a humbling act of spiritual giving that asks for mercy and giving in return. It peels away the layers of our hearts, exposes the darkest parts to the light to be made better. It takes time and patience and trust. It takes new eyes to see and new ears to hear. Sometimes the answers are smaller than dust and quieter than a whisper, but they are there. The more you expose your heart in prayer, the more the answers will become clear. The more you pay attention to the nudges, the more will follow. It’s like seeing the tiniest crack of light in the darkest tunnel, and trusting that everyday, with every prayer, that crack will open just a bit more. It’s our lifeline, our compass, the light unto our path.

Ok, now I’m feeling pushy.

I always hesitate to share my spiritual beliefs with others. I truly respect all people’s beliefs and don’t want anyone to feel that they won’t be loved and accepted because of my views. Most of my blog posts are gentle in my approach, because I get it. I get the scars that people have because of their “religious” friends and family. I get the anxieties of being judged and feeling “not good enough” when it comes to church, even in the eyes of God. I know you think following Christ means you have to follow this ridiculous set of rules. I have heard those lies too and I know many of you still believe them. I have a whole blog about it, in fact.

But these days, when the negative presence and evil in our world feels palpable, when hate is literally breeding at a breakneck pace, where love and humility are being drowned out by all the noise, I can’t not speak up about the freedom that is available to us all through Christ. I can’t sit back and pretend I don’t know the antidote to this madness. In my darkest hours, in my most desperate moments, it’s been my constant. My place of rest.

Be still and know that I am God.

Sometimes that is the only thing I have left to say.

Do you ever see the same number over and over again? Like you always wake up at the same time? Or you keep seeing the same time when you look at the clock? For me, for the last couple of years, that number has been 4:20. When I’d wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night…4:20. When I’d hear my favorite song…4:20. When I heard shocking news about the health of a friend…4:20.

When it started to become more of a “thing”, I went to a trusted friend (who wouldn’t totally write me off as crazy) and mentioned it. She told me to go to the Bible, see if there was a verse with those numbers that resonated with me. Um, okay…I thought, skeptical. But I kept an open mind and kept digging. There were some good ones, words that spoke to me. But I kept coming back to Acts 4:20.

“For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

I have found so much freedom from anxiety through blogging, through sharing my truth. I love to help others through their own journey, but I always hesitated to bring in my spiritual journey. But this verse spoke loud and clear to me. I have seen and heard the love of Jesus. He has helped me through my darkest hours, filled the voids that nothing else ever could, taught me the power of humility and forgiveness. How could I leave Him out of my story? So it was time to speak.

Still it was hard. I didn’t want to loose friends or offend anyone. To loose a chance to help people with anxiety because they were turned off by my beliefs. And then one day, while hiking up in the north Georgia mountains, the alarm on my phone went off randomly. I took it out of my pocket and looked at the screen.


I hadn’t set an alarm, I hardly ever do. I’m sure it was one of my kids, let’s be real. But what are the chances of it being for that specific time? It stopped me in my tracks.

It was time to listen to the nudges.

So here I am. Almost contradicting myself because I’m sharing my thoughts online while telling you to put them into prayer…oops! But sometimes we need a little reminder, a little encouragement to get us going. A story that is authentic and hard to share in the name of inspiring others. To speak of what I have seen and heard… not my political opinions, my annoyances with this or that, my frustrations with society.

I want to speak about the good news. The news that we are all completely loved and enough. That perfect love cannot be offended. The last time I checked, I didn’t see that headline at the top of any recent news story.

What I’m not saying, is don’t act on issues that break your heart. If something bothers you to your core, please speak up to a trusted friend or a reliable source. Slow down and do the work and find the right avenues to accomplish the goal. Pray about it or meditate on it and really process your emotions first before you divulge them all on a public media forum. Take a step back and a deep breath and stop yourself before you add fuel to the already blazing fire. Social media sounding boards may not help you achieve anything, as tempting as it is (yes, I’ve fallen for it too!). I bet if we put down Facebook and put in some face time to solve our issues, we would be making way more progress.

The bottom line is this…we all have a lot to say. We see hate and injustice and evil all around us. We want to fight back and do what’s right and speak our minds. But we must be careful, because as humans, we take offense. We offend others even when we don’t realize it. It’s so hard to avoid right now. The atmosphere of media and online chatter is toxic, it’s so easy and so available to us. But there’s a better way to vent. There’s a Savior that’s always available to you, with open arms and a listening ear and a spirit that doesn’t take offense.

So next time you are angered, upset, even enraged with someone or something that you read online, try turning to prayer instead of that keyboard. Give it to God instead of going on Facebook. Shout it to the heavens instead of the internet.

Then be still, and know that sometimes the best feedback you can get is so quiet that only your soul can hear.

A Letter to our Future President 

Dear Mr. Trump,

First of all, congrats on an astounding win last night. You’ve just been hired for a new job, and man it’s a BIG one.

I can’t imagine what it was like to wake up in your shoes today.  You probably haven’t slept at all, actually. No way I would’ve been able to, if I were you.  But I can tell you what my morning was like, just in case you are wondering.

I woke up this morning with no knowledge of who won the election.  I grew tired of the news networks constantly feeding me news flashes and major updates and too close to calls. All of the dramatic, over-produced banter was enough to drive this girl straight to bed.  So I got a decent sleep, and woke up with that feeling in my stomach. You know, that  flip-floppy, butterfly fluttering, upside down tingle in your gut that tells you that something big is about to happen.  It reminded me of Christmas morning as a child, when you wake up anxiously awaiting to see what big surprises are in store for you.  Except it wasn’t exactly a gift I was waiting for, it was a result…one of the most anticipated in American history. And it may very as well have been something I would have wanted to leave right there under the tree anyway.

Like many others who woke up to the news, or watched it unfold before their eyes, I was shocked. I was scared. It wasn’t the news that I had expected. It wasn’t the news I’d been told to expect, anyway.  You certainly may not have expected it, either. So naturally, I needed a minute to process.

I glared at the tiny, glowing screen before me, reconfirming the information, and of course took to social media, beginning my descent down the rabbit-hole of endless opinions and self-expression. People were scared.  People were rejoicing.  People were angry.  People were elated. People were crying, out of utter joy and out of absolute terror.  People were most definitely not united. 

Luckily, just then, my 4-year-old daughter came into my room, smiling and squealing, and jumped into bed with me.  I welcomed her happiness, wrapped it around me like a warm blanket for my soul. Rather than continue down the path of fear and uncertainty, she brought me back to my grateful reality. I put down the phone, snuggled and giggled with her for a while, and a couple minutes later welcomed my son good morning with a loving hug as well. Clearly our children were just as happy as ever, their refreshing innocence both admirable and heartbreaking at the same time. 

I went on with my morning, getting the kids ready for school, talking briefly with my husband, who was equally in shock.  Of course, he is ridiculously excited that the control is back in the hands of the Republicans. As president of a family owned business, he knows that this hopefully means security and prosperity for our future. But he has his doubts and worries too. He’s not sure what to think of you, either. None of us are. But then again, change is never easy for anyone.

I took the kids to school, chatted with a friend or two in carpool, then headed to the grocery store.  I could not ignore the fact that I was out of laundry detergent any longer.  I was still in a daze, a fog of imminent change and uncertainty.  I looked around to see if anyone else was feeling the same. I found myself wishing everyone was wearing magic t-shirts to announce how we were feeling.  Maybe it would ease the tension a bit. Maybe it would free the uneasiness I felt. 

But when I arrive at the check out lane, apparently I didnt need a t-shirt.  My eyes said it all. The lady checking out my groceries is a tall, black woman, with sparkling, emerald-green eye shadow.  She looks right at me, with her warm, loving gaze, and it comforts me. It’s like an invisible hug, those eyes.  She smiles at me, and I let out a huge sigh of relief.  Finally, a connection. She too, is uneasy, but she radiates with hope. 

“Long night?” she asks.

Yeah. I muster. 

“You know,” she starts, “It’s all going to be okay.  We know who’s really in control. To God be the Glory.  We gotta trust Him.”

We smile and nod at each other, and I feel tears welling up in my eyes, tears of relief, tears of hope,  tears of sheer exhaustion from the emotional turmoil that has been this election season.  I want to cry that it’s produced so much hate, so much division, so much distrust and anxiety.  I want to cry, but I hold back. 

I also have the overwhelming urge to hug this lady, but I don’t, because I decide that’s just a little too much. I would probably have to find a different Publix if I did. I’d be known as the crazy lady who goes around hugging and crying on people. Don’t let her down your aisle.

Anyway, Mr. Trump, I know you have a lot of work to do, so I’ll wrap this up.

I may or may not have voted for you. It’s really no one’s business, really.  I love that we have a democratic process that allows us the right to vote for our leaders, but I have to admit I had a hard time supporting anyone during this election. I don’t know you personally, but I know what I was supposed to think of you. I know what the media spewed at me, I read all the headlines, got lost in the ridiculous news articles.  I have to admit, I really wasn’t a fan of you, personally speaking. I was quick to judge, quick to give my negative opinions of you, quick to voice my concern of your character. I just plain didn’t like you as a person.  But I realize now, that ultimately, I had become everything that I didn’t like about you in the first place. Because of what I was being fed, and from my own harsh judgments, and because of the liar that is fear, I became the worst kind of hypocrite.  I never gave you a chance.

In my house we have a very important family rule; we respect whoever is elected president. We don’t tell our children who we voted for, we try not to voice our opinions too much in front of them, we simply preach love of country and respect for its leaders. We explain to them that you may disagree with the decision of a leader, but you must always show love and respect.

So I guess it’s time I start practicing what I preach.

After the dust had settled from the morning, after I’d put the groceries away and finally started the laundry, I picked my phone back up continued gawking at the unprecedented news. I watched your acceptance speech, and it calmed my nerves.  Your love for this country is genuine. You didn’t have to take this job.  You obviously don’t need the money. You could’ve easily retired, put your feet up, and floated off around the world on a million-dollar yacht or whatever.  But you have a genuine love and a mission for this country.  Now that I must accept that you are Commander in Chief, I must join you in this mission.  I must put aside the negative opinions, the former judgments I had for you, someone who I thought I knew. Because now, to me, you are someone I that I must learn to love and respect. Because that is a gold standard to me.

All I ask of you, Mr. Trump, is that you extend that same love and respect towards me and my family. And of course, not just me, but all the millions of other Americans around this country. Because although your title demands respect, likewise, respect must be earned. There are many, many people in this country that are feeling lost, alone and scared this morning. They are the marginalized and the forgotten. They don’t know if their lives will ever be the same. They feel their voice may be lost forever. You must be their voice now. They also want your love and respect, even if they don’t know how to ask for it. It’s your job now to make them feel safe and secure. In order to make this country great again, you have to realize that the people of this country are already great. That we all want the best for ourselves and our families. That our ability to live together and celebrate our differences are what make this country great. We don’t want to live in a country full of fear and division. And it’s your job now to unite us. It’s in your job description. 

Listen, you’ve got a tough road ahead of you. You have to show us all that your love for our country is indeed from a genuine, pure place. That you want the best for us all. That you can silence the naysayers and prove them wrong. We are putting our faith in you, Mr. Trump. Faith that you can be a uniter and a fighter of injustice. That you will recognize right from wrong. That you will give us hope and reassurance, and that this change you speak of will lead us all in the right direction, together. That you will make us proud, and make our children proud. 

That’s a rather tall order. 

Taller than any building you’ve ever built. More than any money you’ve ever made. Riskier than any business deal you’ve ever brokered. 

These are our lives, Mr. Trump. 

The people have spoken, so I will give you a chance. You had as fair a shot as anyone else. I think you have the potential to do a great job. I will no longer fear you, for I am better than that. I will rise above. I have faith in you. I have to. We all have to. 

Just like the man who helped me take my groceries to the car this morning, when he said, “Who knows, he might be the greatest president this country’s ever seen.”

No pressure, but dude, you better not mess this up. 

A Hopeful American