In the wake of the Parkland shooting a meme went around, which I shared because it resonated with me over my thoughts on the shooting, but also my thoughts on anyone in crisis. It crossed out the words “thoughts and prayers” and replaced it with “policy and change”. For someone that professes a faith in God, this may seem and odd thing to share. However, having lived through my own crisis over the past year, I understand what those words do and do not mean to me.
When someone says they are thinking of me or praying for me, it feels like a punch to the gut. I know it is a phrase that is meant well, but when you are in crisis, you don’t want people watching from the shore as your ship sinks. When you are in crisis, you want someone to jump in the boat and help bale out the water. I am not discounting the power of prayer, but you don’t need to tell me you are praying – I know that people who really love and care for me ARE praying, even if they don’t tell me.
So, what is the opposite of the phrase “thoughts and prayers”, to me? It is action. It is bringing a meal to a struggling family. It is offering to come watch someone’s kids, so they can get away – whether for some self-care or support groups or whatever. It is someone helping with the cost of house cleaning. We all have our gifts, some of us are blessed with abundant finances, or the ability to stay at home with kids, or great cooks, or great networkers. When people are in crisis, they need some doers to step in and help share a little of the burden. And if that is not a possibility, a phone call is invaluable. I have spent the better part of a year barely keeping my family from sinking and sometimes it is exhausting to always be the one reaching out for a life preserver.
Ten months ago, I began this extremely lonely journey. I have found that I am stronger than I ever thought possible, but sometimes it is the insignificant things that can tip me over the edge. Today Messi had surgery and as I tried to schedule his post-op appointment, I nearly broke down. My sitter is out of town, I am working full time, and the person sitting at the desk didn’t seem to get the reality that I truly had no way to get him to the appointment. We finally figured something out, but it was just a reminder of how it feels to be living in a situation where you are barely staying afloat. So, for my friends near and far, please don’t take this as a cry for help (though I wouldn’t turn it down). Rather, it is a reminder for all of us that when we know someone in crisis, those prayers need to be paired with some practical action otherwise they just feel hollow.