Raw Honesty & Faith
On Friday I got to spend some time alone with him before his surgery. He was heavily sedated and unable to talk with all the tubes in his mouth and nose, but I know he recognized me. I told him he was surrounded by love, by people who love him and who are praying for him – over 80 people were praying for him from Facebook alone – and he nodded his head. When I prayed for him out loud (the Prayer for Quiet Confidence from the Book of Common Prayer, followed by a very emotional prayer for his healing) and concluded “Amen,” he moved his lips in a silent Amen. Then he visibly relaxed, as if he were taking a rest from all the wrestling-with-the-angels he has been doing over the past month.
It hurts like hell to see Dad in this condition, or to even think about a sharp-witted aircraft design engineer who can’t recognize his own family. The idea of a Lloyd Grizzle who may be brain-damaged scares the shit out of me. The only prayer I can pray today is the memorized prayer below, and I’m almost able (not quite) to believe it. So in addition to prayer for my Dad I am asking that you pray for my own faith, which lies buried deep inside a trash-heap of fear and doubt right now.
I realize that kind of honesty is disturbing to some people. I’m afraid I shocked a friend last week when I told him on the phone, in a moment of raw pain, that “I don’t know if I believe in God anymore or if it’s all a bunch of bullshit.” He sent me a very warm and thoughtful message in response, part of which said:
“I admire the fact that in your life Darrell you do so much to help people but at the same time wonder why it’s so hard [for you] to find that same strength in yourself. ...It’s just with someone who does so much good for others (and I don’t think you know how much good you do). It’s hard when I see them unable to give that same attention to themselves.”
I thought all week about what my friend had written, and I’ve realized that I can’t always help myself the way I might be able to help others. I can’t be my own therapist, and I can’t be my own pastor. This is why I need community, which thankfully I have. I need friends and loved ones to pray for me when I am unable to pray for myself. I need friends and loved ones to have faith for me when I have trouble finding faith for myself.
This perhaps is the greatest gift I’ve received from this whole ordeal: the humbling awareness that I can’t go through this alone. And I don’t have to. I don’t have to be a spiritual superhero. Jesus talked about being present “where two are more are gathered” in his name. Sometimes it’s just not possible to have faith by oneself. Sometimes it takes “two or more.” Community. “The communion of saints.”
So to those of you who continue to stand with me in prayer, I truly thank you. In a very real way, you are making this difficult journey much easier to bear.
with much love and gratefulness,
O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
– Prayer for Quiet Confidence, from The Book of Common Prayer