July 2, 2021

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

‘It’s OK’ to let go and leave your burdens with God

Patti LambRecently, my brother had back surgery and was in the hospital much longer than expected. Unfortunately, he had to wait for an opening at a rehabilitation facility for rigorous physical therapy to begin to get his mobility back. He was in a lot of pain, and family members visited him to lift his spirits. We received family group texts with updates and repeated requests for prayers during that stretch of weeks.

Finally, I received a most welcome group text.

“Thanks be to God! Tom is moving to rehab tomorrow. I appreciate each of you prayer warriors.”

I was thrilled that Tom would be able to make progress in his recovery.

I could relate to my brother’s haste to reach better days. There’s a certain intention for which I’ve been praying for a long time. I understand that God’s time is different than my time, but it’s been a difficult string of months. I reached out to my trusty band of prayer warriors repeatedly, and they assured me that they were storming heaven.

However, the situation about which I’ve been praying isn’t changing. I struggle with what to do when nothing changes after my most fervent prayer efforts. Months ago, my sister, Katie, encouraged me to leave it with God. She walked me over to the Sacred Heart statue in my mom’s entryway and pointed to it, saying, “Leave it with him and stop carrying it.”

Later that week, after a day of feeling defeated, I sent my sister a text.

She replied, “It’s a most difficult thing for us to learn, but we can’t turn it over to God and then keep taking it back if we expect him to help.”

Slowly, I’m trying to understand how to sit with the discomfort, realizing that God hears me and loves me and is present, even when it feels like my prayers aren’t reaching him.

The other night, my sister asked me to come by and watch a snippet from the TV show “America’s Got Talent.” She pushed play, and I saw a woman with a beautiful soul sing an original song that she wrote called, “It’s OK.” The lyrics were about how it’s OK when everything is not OK. That’s called life.

Although she was a breast cancer survivor, the cancer metastasized to other parts of her body, leaving her with a 2% chance to recover. After her beautifully authentic performance, the audience raved. She pulled the microphone close and said, “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”

In an interview afterward, she said, “I’ve got a 2% chance, and that’s not zero.”

Her example of faith and positivity moved me, and certainly put my nagging issue into perspective. Instead of fussing about my problem not being resolved, I need to decide how wonderful life is already and thank God for abundant blessings all around me that I don’t recognize.

I get sidetracked on what’s not going right and I miss all the good stuff happening around me: the way fresh picked strawberries taste; the face my daughter makes when she gets brain freeze after that first bite of frozen custard; how good I feel after a nice long walk. (That’s something my brother is praying for right now, and I shouldn’t take for granted.)

An entry from God Calling, one of my favorite devotionals, says it best: “… And always pray until prayer merges into praise. That is the only note on which true prayer should end.”

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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