A few weeks ago, I found myself sobbing in my bedroom, kneeling down and talking out loud. To God. I didn’t plan it. I just found myself…doing it. I’ve always believed in God (don’t ask me why I believe in God, I just do) but I reserved talking to God only for instances like buying a lottery ticket. God, let me win the 14 million dollars this week!
I’m not an overly religious person, and only celebrate the Jewish high holidays, so starting to pray to God, alone and out loud, came as even a shock to me. I’m the type of person who loves seeing fortune tellers a few times a year, and occasionally reads my horoscope—and believes it! I even believe in fortune cookies!
I’ll admit, the last few months of my life have absolutely sucked. The reasons, really, aren’t important (except to me).
Just believe me that the past few months have really thrown me for a loop. Therapy worked…until it didn’t. Advice from well-meaning friends and family worked…until it didn’t. Eating bags of potato chips worked…until it didn’t.
I was so desperate to get to a place where I wasn’t sobbing every day, I even resorted to typing my credit card number into my laptop so a fortune teller, based in London, England, could send me a detailed description of what to expect in my life in the following few months. Talk about being desperate!
It’s hard to parent when you feel your world is imploding. And I needed to parent. I needed my children to not see my blotchy red face and red eyes. I wanted to be happy around my kids and enjoy their company. I needed help, that is for sure, but I was out of ideas. So why not talk, or pray, genuinely to God? What was the worst that could happen? I was pretty much already at rock bottom anyway.
So, there I was, kneeling by my bed, looking up and, after clearing my throat, I began talking. “I’m not sure how to do this, but here goes,” I began, before praying to God to help me cope through my trying time. I asked for strength. I asked God to find my happiness, so I could parent happily again. I asked God to keep an eye on my children and to make sure they were happy and healthy. Amazingly, after my first genuine act of praying to God, something shifted in my brain and heart. I felt a huge sense of relief, after praying for, maybe, two minutes?
I couldn’t help but think of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray, Love. I remember the opening scene where she’s sobbing on her bathroom floor, asking for answers, wanting out of her marriage. I’m paraphrasing, but basically, she heard a higher power tell her to “just go to sleep.” And she did.
Unlike Gilbert, I didn’t hear anyone speaking to me, though I admit, I was sort of hoping for that to happen. But there was no conversation, as I prayed. It was a one-sided conversation. But…
I stopped crying. I took a shower. And the best part? I was able to smile and laugh with my children at dinner that night and then play board games with them. Praying, it seemed, had definitely helped me get my life back on track, or at least feel like it was getting back on track. Praying got me back to being an awesome, fun-loving mom. How could I not wonder—after speaking out loud to God, and I could finally smile again after feeling so broken—why the hell I hadn’t started praying earlier?
All over Facebook, mothers are constantly asking virtual friends, “Please send your prayers,” when their kids are sick, or their parents end up in the hospital. When I see these posts, I always comment, “Prayers sent!” So many mothers, and so many parents are now starting to pray, and asking for people to pray for them, even those who aren’t religious, and have never been religious.
I told my girlfriend what I had done—speak/pray directly to God—and she responded, “Whatever works!” I also reached out to an acquaintance, another mother, who posted how she had just started to pray too. “I can’t believe we started praying at the same time!” I mean, we’re both in our 40s.
I don’t really understand why praying to God, out loud, as opposed to just praying in my head, gave me such a strong sense of inner strength. I now look forward to talking to God out loud, at least a couple times a week, while I’m alone. Quite frankly, what parent doesn’t need inner strength, even if they’re not going through a crisis? Especially in this day and age, where there is just so much to worry about when it comes to our children and how to parent?
Of course, I’ve heard how writing out your thoughts can be cathartic in trying times. The problem is that, when you are a professional writer and spend your days writing, the last thing you want to do is write more. When I attempted to write my thoughts—do a “data dump”—I found it to be the exact opposite of cathartic. Writing and then reading about my somewhat dire situation didn’t de-stress me. It made me miserable! Talking to a therapist twice a week got expensive. I feared my friends were getting bored with my negativity. Praying to God was cathartic! Praying to God was free! I never worry God is going to get bored, even if I pray for the same thing over and over.
I have no idea if there is a right or wrong way to pray. As someone who is of the Jewish faith, was I doing something wrong by kneeling while I prayed to God? I didn’t intertwine my hands as I spoke, because, for whatever reason, that felt wrong to me.
I enjoyed an by a writer who also started to pray one day, out of the blue. “I’m not talking about church. I’m not talking about religion. I’m not talking about Jesus Christ. I’m not talking about anything other than a simple conversation I began having. I can’t tell you exactly who it is on the other end of the conversation—God maybe, the universe, something spiritual, or maybe just my own subconscious. What I can tell you though, is how much this conversation has improved my life. For lack of a better word, I will call this conversation ‘prayer’,” she writes.
Neither of us has a memorized script we repeat. Like me, when she prays, she speaks out loud. Like me, praying has given her strength, hope, and happiness—even if neither of us is sure who or what we’re praying to.
It has improved my life. I am happy. Things have started to fall into place. I rarely cry these days, even though my life isn’t anywhere near perfect.
I also just feel all-around better, not just mentally, but physically. I found my inner-funny again. And I was back to being a fun parent, happy to spend time with my kids and being in the present, smothering them with love. I’m actually positive about my life now. Happy mom = happy home! Positive mom = positive children.
An article about the heath benefits of praying includes how praying reduces ego, promotes humility, is good for your heart, by helping regulate heart beats, lessens stress, helps your body heal faster, improves attitudes, and also helps you maintain a positive outlook.
My children do not know I pray. In fact, before now, no one knew I had started to pray, aside from that also new-to-praying mom acquaintance and one close girlfriend. It still feels weird to me that I’m a person who prays out loud. I’m not more religious.
I’m not suggesting you start to pray. Believe in God, or don’t believe. It’s not my business. Praying to God, out loud, may seem crazy to you, but, I’ve become a calmer person, a more patient parent, and all around a better person. Try it. Don’t try it. I will continue to speak to God out loud. And I will also still continue to believe what my fortune cookie tells me.