That is written on a sticky note that I have on the white board on my desk. It was written when I was probably 21 or younger, and working at Borders. The new Ani Difranco album had come out, and after playing it for the required time in the store, the music manager handed me the copy with that post-it stuck to the cover. My level of excitement can be measured by the fact that I still have that note 15 years later.
That Bible verse has even further significance. When I was 18, my parents bought me a used Ford Escort. They parked it in the parking lot at the park up the street (wow, there is a lot of “park” in this sentence). My mom took me up there saying we had to pick up my brother from a birthday party, and I saw the car with a “For Sale” sign stuck to the window. I begged her to stop so I could check it out, and under “For Sale” it simply said, “Matthew 7:7”. I thought this was kind of curious, so I turned it over, and it said, “Ask, and you shall receive.” My dad was filming me from the woods, and we have a video tape of me screaming and running toward him; knocking him over, the camera filming too close facial features, scattered leaves, and sky.
There are so many times in my life, I can look back and say that I can, and have, truly enjoyed the fruits of what I have prayed and asked for. There are many others, where my constant prayer to live in truth and love, bring results that are far from enjoyable. If you pray for truth, you are bound to come up with a few (what the coaches at Brazen Athletics call) s*#t-storms.
When I was four years old, I offered God my life. That’s what I prayed for. I prayed to see myself clearly, to be humble, and live for God. I was four, so I don’t think those were the exact words that I used, but that was the basic gist. What I can tell you is that after I prayed, I remember being filled with happiness. It felt like I was floating in a warm, joy bubble, and also that I was a warm, joy bubble. Again, I am remembering a feeling I had when I was four, and all I remember saying afterwards is, “happy,” because I didn’t have any words to describe it, but that pretty much covers it.
I realize this sounds kind of crazy, but it’s my truth, and it’s taken me to some interesting places. There are many things that I’ve asked, prayed, and begged God for in my life, that I didn’t get. There are many, many things that I didn’t exactly want that I did get, but overall when I look at my life, I can see a bird crumb trail leading to where I am now. There are definitely more than a few country songs written about this very thing, so I won’t try to compete with words and sentiments, but, it’s true, “Sometimes, I thank God for unanswered prayers.”
Some other times, I really have to rely on my yoga practice bank account in order to respond to situations with love and non-judgement. After all, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” * Luckily, without the job as life judge, I am much freer to enjoy, and learn from my own mistake without fear of damnation (although I often have to remind myself of my unemployed status in the judicial system). So back to the s*#t-storms…. When people ask how I’m doing, I don’t say, “fine,” or, “great,” anymore unless I am truly feeling fabulous. I usually hear myself saying, “Well, you know it’s life, some things are awesome, and some are really challenging right now.” It’s as honest as I can be, and it welcomes other people to stop saying how, “fine,” and, “great,” their lives are if they aren’t.
I have asked to live in Truth and Love, which means, if I take an honest look at my life, I love a lot of people who are going through storms, I love a lot of people who I wish would do what I wish they would do, and I look at myself, and see how I could use a lot of work in handling the storms I am in. I have asked for this, and at the end of the day, I do enjoy it in a way. I enjoy how telling and living the truth means that you don’t have to remember what you’ve said and not said, I enjoy the process of learning to love people with all of their awesomeness and messiness, and not in spite of it (and I really hope they feel the same way about me). I love that somehow in order to be truly speaking from my heart, I have to say WAY less, and be really P-A-T-I-E-N-T. It’s really freeing to just admit that I’m not perfect, and that often I have no idea what even to ask for in order to live a life well lived. Luckily, what my inexperience in Truth and Love doesn’t cover, humility often does (even if it takes awhile for me to get there).
This post was inspired by my post-it, and also by my friend, Lauren Ward Larsen, the author of (the amazing, go read it right now) “Zuzu’s Petals: A True Story of Second Chances,” who is one of my life mentors (and always leaves sarcastic comments on my FB page), and also to her daughter, Clare, who is 12 and allowed to read my blog (which I am so very proud of). I’m sorry for the swear, Clare. It’s one of those words you can choose whether or not to use once you’re 16. Love you!
*As a side note, I obviously grew up in a Bible toting and quoting household. Because my mom was so into literature, as soon as we could talk, we began memorizing scripture in the King James version which is all thee, thou’s, and ye’s. I hope you can find as much humor in that as I do. Also, my understanding of “God” doesn’t really fall into traditional lines, but luckily GOD/THE DIVINE/CREATOR/SPIRIT, LOVE and TRUTH are not bound by human limitations in understanding or religious definitions.