Talking About…

August 02, 2016

Young caucasian woman praying

She Said by Collective Soul  is my new “blog” song.  You can listen to it by clicking on it — or just ignore it.  This song speaks to where I am in my life.  Maybe some of you can relate; maybe others can’t.  I know this:  it’s time to bring the music back into my life again.

I’ve been talking a lot lately about the latest unexpected turn in my life story.  It’s healing to tell our story, especially when it involves grief.  It’s how we process the unthinkable and integrate it into our life. We make the unthinkable at least somewhat acceptable.

We surrender.

The first morning we wake up after a tragedy, the experience washes over us like a tsunami.  Waking up hurts.  It continues to hurt for however long it takes to heal, which always takes longer than we think it should, and it takes four times as long as other people think it should.

“Aren’t you over that yet?” people say, verbalizing what we ask ourselves.

While those closest to us tire of hearing our story — and who can blame them — we don’t tire of telling it.  Hi.  My name is _____________ and _______________ just happened to me. 

The first words out of our mouth describe the incident that’s turning us into a new person, someone we didn’t want to become – didn’t choose to be. But as annoying as it can be to the people who hear us talking about it day after day, we still can’t stop ourselves from telling our story to please them.

The time comes, though, when we can take our communication a step further.

“I believe in God,” I told a friend.  “I know God’s real.  That just makes it worse, because I know how powerful God is.”

To another friend I said, “I don’t know what to say to God.  I’m at a loss for words.”

Just the awareness that I’d fallen away from prayer ignited a change.  I realized I’d been talking sometimes to the right people, sometimes to anyone who would listen, and sometimes to the wrong people – the ones who had snide remarks as a reply — but I hadn’t been talking to my Higher Power, God as I understand God.

I’d walk by the temple in the middle of my home, briefly acknowledge its presence, then keep on walking and keep on talking – to everyone but God.  My indifference to the temple symbolized the indifference I felt toward God.

With this awareness that I hadn’t been communicating with my Higher Power, I found myself organically, without much effort, making prayer a priority again.

Why do I forget to do that which will help the most? Why do I systematically ignore those simple acts, behaviors that take so little time, that have such enormous payoff?  I do it over and over again.

Oops.

Over the past years, I’ve learned that my day goes better if I start it with a good breakfast.  I’ve also learned that my day goes better if I begin it with prayer.  I have the greatest respect for all religions and spiritual paths. Agnostics and atheists can believe what they will, but I know what’s true for me:  prayer works.

Even if I just say, “I’m at a loss for words, God,” or recite a pre-written prayer,  paying attention to the meaning of each phrase, it helps.

Prayer changes things.  It changes me.

When I go through a loss, what I miss most is that sense of being led by my Higher Power.  The easiest way to get back that sense of guidance is to ask for it, and ask for it by going directly to the Source. 

At a loss for words? Sometimes, “Help” is all we need to say. How hard is that? When it comes to prayer, a little bit goes a long way.

Amen.

From the desk of Melody Beattie
Originally posted October 9, 2011

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  • Bryan

    This really speaks to me… On so many levels. First off, I’ve always found that the times its most difficult to pray and worship are the times I need it most. This is much like asking for help in a recovery sense (the less I’m asking for help the more likely it is that I need to). I’ve always felt this way about my relationship with God and I still do even if I don’t practice it as often as I should. If I do not feel close to Him or feel put out by the idea of worship/ prayer, than I am likely doing something wrong and need Him more than ever.
    Which brings me to my second point, where I am now… I struggle to ask for help; in my faith, my family and my daily life. I just finished two months of intensive inpatient PTSD counseling and I came home an open book, offering my story to anyone who cared to know about my traumas and my path to recovery. People didn’t want to know, however, even if they said they did and I found myself guilty of the dreaded overshare on many occasions. great post and very relevant!

    • Thanks Bryan. I still have to remind myself that there’s a huge difference between “thinking about praying and asking for help” and actually praying. PTSD is coming to people’s attention, but way too slowly. I appreciate your comments. Best, Melody Beattie

      • Bryan

        I think that’s right. It’s often easy to “think” about doing the things we need most. It just so happens that those things are on the paths that are most difficult to follow. For me, in my recovery, it’s about reminding myself that those are the paths that lead me where I want to be. So asking for help (from God, my wife, my therapist) while uncomfortable in practice, will lead me to a better life.

        PTSD is definitely getting more attention these days. My generation of veterans has it better than any other before us and hopefully my daughter’s generation will be even better (or rather free from conflict).

        Thank you for your response!