Last week I wrote that something was missing from my life. And that because of the void, I haven’t been able to cut through a lot of this year’s grime as well as I have in the past… That thing was (is) prayer. I expressed that I have felt so overwhelmed by successive dramatic events that, on most days, a spiritual connection seemed to require energy that I didn’t have readily available. This Sunday is an extended reflection. What was it exactly that caused me to stop…
I really do believe it started with a rebellion. Not against God, but against my “steam engine”…
Multigenerational faith leader, wow, what a position. This is the role traditionally assigned to men when they are expected to be the spiritual “steam engines” of their homes.
Is it a fair expectation? Perhaps it is. Perhaps it isn’t if you believe in gender equality; when you consider self-governance and the level of authority human beings must have over themselves (mind, body, emotions, relationships with others, etc.). Factor in the human reality that we are all a work-in-progress.
According to Pew Research Center, women pray more than men. Perhaps it is because we are more affectionate, tender, and nurturing. Perhaps daily prayer is a lot like doing the dishes and wiping down exposed surfaces.
While my husband and I came to an agreement many years ago about our spiritual beliefs and how they would be manifested in our home, I noticed one day that something was changing about our spiritual practices as a couple. In my mind, I had been consistent; but I was starting to worry that the “steam engine” in my life was slowing down. I even sensed that the engine’s valve may have started to close for deeper reasons.
I remember saying: “If he’d just pray more, maybe we would have this or if we’d just go to church like we used to then maybe we’d have that. If he could have less hard questions about the Bible and just believe what’s there, it just may be the fertilizer we need to grow our grass.” After many failed attempts to intercede, I became pouty. I remember saying: “You know what, forget it, we don’t ever have to go back to church. Furthermore, if he won’t pray, I won’t either.”
Pretty extreme, but I’m sure that is precisely how my prayer drought came to be. I was taking cues from my husband (not an actual locomotive) and ended up developing a pretty critical eye around his relationship with God. So much so, I stopped focusing on my own spiritual health… I even began harboring some resentment. Internally blaming my husband for the spiritual skepticism I was starting to feel– that I believed was rubbing off on me in a sense. I felt my innocence being challenged; my right-brained faith being lulled into a left-brained world.
But that’s not the real message here. The real message is perception is not reality.
My husband was praying and worshipping. He was spending time with God and being obedient to God’s will for his life. I learned that late at night while his wife and children slept, he was up praying and expressing gratitude. How could the man who spiritually manifested our relationship not?
The bigger question should probably be am I okay? I misstepped and self-inflicted a little bit in this story. I assumed that our prayer life should look alike because we are life partners. I almost self-destructed when I stopped doing something that brought me peace to try and make a point (and there was literally no point). I also made social comparisons based on the faith-based lives of other couples.
Three lessons learned:
1. Not all grass grows the same.
2. Personal prayer lives don’t have to simulate gold-trimmed Bibles with our names inscribed. It’s those well-built, tattered pages…
3. When there’s harmony within, love and compassion will always radiate outward…pray.
Clinnesha is a wife, mom, daughter/sister/auntie, literary artist, humanities scholar, and social entrepreneur. Her advocacy work is at the intersection of black/feminist thought, arts, culture, and community.