Taking Turns

This week, a friend of mine started reading Nadia Bolz-Weber. I’d recommended her writing ages ago, but as so often happens, there were a lot of other books to get to before “Accidental Saints” hit the top of this friend’s reading list. But now that she is there…she is an instant fan, just as I was.

In these days that can be so discouraging, so depleting, it is voices like Nadia’s that remind me of the grittiness and the durability of faith. It isn’t always pretty, or simple, but it is always there for us. God is present, even if God isn’t working in ways that we understand or agree with. Nadia reminds me of that, often with a little extra bit of sarcasm, a lot of honesty, and an extra dose of wit.

Luckily for us, she is also in the habit of writing some regular Sunday prayers right now. Here is her offering from yesterday:

“Dear God,

We are going to just be taking turns for a while, if that’s ok.

Yesterday was mine. My turn to be depressed-as-hell about the closing of beloved, been-around-for-decades local business. My turn to be afraid because the wildfires are so bad that my eyes sting and the interstate is closed. My turn to be angry. My turn to indulge in post-apocalyptic future-casting. (OK maybe I shouldn’t have watched Mad Max this week.)

Please help me not feel bad when it’s my turn, Lord. And with your grace, may my turn to completely freak out not last one minute longer than necessary. But also may it last as long as needed in order to allow it to pass when it’s time to move on and just go make the salad for dinner.

And Lord, may I be a non-anxious presence for the next person whose turn it is. May I not fear their fear so much that I fail to listen well.”

(I encourage you to read the full post here.)

As the best writers do, Nadia here gives voice to something I’ve been experiencing but couldn’t describe over the last few months. Some days, I wake up full of joy at the summer sunshine, excitement at a new camping adventure, a sense of rightness because it’s finally blueberry season or because it’s been two weeks since I was coughed on by someone at the grocery store and I can finally stop worrying about it.

But then there are days I wake up anxious. I feel tired like I haven’t slept, and I can’t focus on anything except the news stories: more protests, more COVID deaths, more political in-fighting, more people out of work. On those days, it is my turn. My turn to freak out.

Nadia’s words remind me that it is ok when it is my turn. That I shouldn’t be ashamed, or feel guilty, or rush through it. She suggests that God isn’t bothered by us taking turns, so we shouldn’t be either. It’s not a sign of frailty or weakness. It is just how life is right now.

And equally important: it will not always be my turn. It will soon be the turn of someone I love, and I have a role to play then. I can sit with them, and give witness to their fear and anxiety, and not be bothered by them either. I can affirm that these are hard and scary times, but as Nadia also says, “my terror is not a sign of [God’s] absence and my hope is not a sign of [God’s] presence.”

Because my terror and my hope are real, and they are important, but they are not the whole story. God is bigger than all of this, bigger than my fear, bigger than the storm I am caught in, but God is also right there with me in it. With you, too.

Thanks be to God!

2 thoughts on “Taking Turns

  1. I love the concept of taking turns. Then, on those days that feel like it is “my turn”, I can trust that someone else will be there to pick it up the next day.

    Like

Leave a Reply to Marilynn Nelson Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s