What a relief.
I'd been doing my best, guided by some Christian friends, Mormon and Catholic alike, to pray my way out of the misery I was in.
I was a dutiful wife and mother. (Or doing my best anyway.) I was obeying the rules, staying at home, cooking for the kids, taking them out to the park instead of sitting in front of the TV, paying attention to them, doing homework, staying fit, eating healthy, not drinking alcohol...I was being GOOD and doing everything I should be doing in order to get what I wanted.
Because this was prayer, right? I do the right thing and I get what I want. I behave and my prayers are answered. I work to earn the reward from that guy sitting up above looking down and judging me.
What an asshole! Either that guy up above, for not listening and giving me what I'd been working so hard to earn. Or me, for bartering, for superstition, for basically very pagan beliefs about a personal god who takes a personal interest and manipulates my life based on my bartering and prayer.
It was so much easier to give him up.
Since then I have been reading the Tao, studying some Hindu and Buddhist books and doing yoga. I am working on finding balance, on harmony, on staying in tune with the universe. I strive for detachment and acceptance instead of a need to control and know everything. I try to recognise the common universal oneness in everything.
This is working a lot better for me than bargaining with some crabby old man who wasn't listening to me anyway.
I still get annoyed though, that prayer seems to work for other people. What the heck do I do wrong?
So that when Tracey told me last week that she thought her husband's business was starting to pick up because of her prayers, I had to talk to her about it. (@&#^ Christians!)
It came up three more times with three other people last week.
And then I started seeing signs and getting superstitious again.
I slowed down. I waited. I didn't do anything. I just let it all be.
And the answer hit me - in a ray of sunshine on Friday afternoon while talking to Darla at school pickup - that the secret to prayer was in giving up the control and leaving it to whatever higher power you are praying to, meditating on, communing with.
Let me be the first to say that I think this sucks.
I find this whole "you don't always get the answer you are looking for, God gives you what you need not always what you want" business a real rip-off. I'm not asking for what I NEED, I'm asking for what I WANT! Why bother if I'm not going to get what I want? What a crock of #@(#*!
Speaking to Tracey - whose business is doing well where Damon's wasn't - made me realise that if I HAD gotten what I asked God for back in Germany - another baby, more money, our own house, Ryan's success at school, health insurance we could afford, sunshine, warmth and summer more than 3 days a year - then we never would have come to Australia.
It's like asking for a poster of Zac Efron for Christmas and having him fly in to spend the week with you and your family instead.
God gave me Australia.
I'd thank him but I'm still not speaking to him and I'll tell you why.
That ray of sunshine that filled me with warmth - God's grace even if you are Christian - filled me with the realisation that I have to give up control and accept whatever God, or the Universe, throws my way. I have to detach myself from needs and desires and outcomes and accept how it already is and will be.
I can't go back to praying to some old dude, hoping he will give me what I want.
Prayer isn't about getting what you want. It is about accepting what you have.
And I still think this sucks.
If there is some god up there I really think he should buck up, get with the program and start running things properly for a change.
Maybe get his wife to do it for him; that might work.
My old beliefs in God, in one god, were more pagan than Christian. My Taoism - even though I have yet to go to a temple - are closer to what I think Christians call God - than my old belief in God ever was.
I am striving to accept what the universe throws my way. I am seeking balance and peace, basic kindness, simple happiness, detachment and acceptance.
Call it what you like; I think Jesus would have been cool with it.
And don't get me wrong. I still suck at this.
But I think I might be beginning to grasp at least the beginnings of it just a little itty bitty bit.
And I don't think God would mind if I thought of him as something else, in a way that has me accepting instead of bartering, in a way that helps me pray my new way and allows me to let his grace in.
Maybe He did send me answers last week.
But going back to our old relationship isn't going to help either of us.
I'd like to think He's big enough to accept this new one.
(Although if you are listening, God, a little extra cash never hurt!)
Om mane padme om. Namaste. And Amen!