I'm a born worrier. As far back as I can remember, I worried. About everything. About the possibility of getting hurt. About what might happen to my sister, my parents, my dog, my grandmother, my shoes. Didn't matter what, I've always had a knack. I can obsess with the best of them. I've gotten a little mellower with age, but those anxiety ridden worry attacks always come back.
As a child I would lay in bed at night and worry. Then, I would pray. To God. I would start off with whatever, or whomever, was worrying me that day. Maybe my sister. What would happen to her when we had to go to different schools. Would she be scared? Lonely? Would someone hurt her? I would ask God to please look after her. Make sure she was safe, and not scared, and not lonely. And that she would make it home from school alive. Then I would think about my mother. Please, God, look after her, too. Oh, and my father. Him, too. But what about Grandma? Grandpa? My other sisters? The dog? What if I forget someone, and God doesn't realize they need care and love, too? If I'm not careful to include everyone, will they be destroyed in some way? By the end of the prayer (and the night...the sun would be rising by the time I was done), I would have finished up with a "please, just watch over the whole world..." Exhausting!
I've teeter-tottered with this whole prayer thing over the years. Sometimes journaled my prayers, hopes, requests, whatever you want to call them. I'm not a religious person. I have a lot of issues with organized religion (can you say "recovering Catholic"?). I don't know what to believe. I'm a logical person. But I have a hope or keen interest in the fantastic, the otherworldly, the duel of sorts between good and evil. I like to think I'm on the side of good. The side of humanity, and caring, blah-blah-blah.
But when things get tough, or just a part of my life, or my defenses are down, or I'm lacking confidence, maybe hating my body and wanting to lose 20 pounds, I put those hopes out there. But I've got to cover myself. If I ask God to help me to lose 20 pounds, I have to clarify. What if he takes me literally, and somehow helps me to lose a limb instead. That could be 20 pounds. It's not that I'm thinking God is an idiot. I'm thinking he likes the fine print. Be clear. Crystal clear.
So, these days, I'm worrying about health. The health of some relatives. Myself. My husband. My pets. I'm really obsessing about my pets right now. And I'm asking God to look after them. To help them heal. And then, I panic, what if in healing one he robs me of another?! I have to be clear. Crystal clear. I've got to fill in the fine print. Can't miss anything. Don't want to lose someone I love. But what about everyone else? If someone I love is spared, does that mean someone else loses someone? Is it supposed to balance out somehow? Who is God's bookkeeper?
And, so, to pray or not to pray. That is the question...