Friday, May 16, 2008

Thoughts about "praying for me" and "hoping for a miracle"

When I first became ill I talked and wrote about it with my Christian friends. And I watched as the two Christian forums I participated on quickly responded in a singular way, “I’ll pray for you” while at the SAME TIME, talking, emailing and communicating with me less.

Yes, Christianity doesn’t know how to deal with disability. And they didn't know what to say so they said nothing at all. Do you know what that sounds like someone going to tests every day: silence. In not more than a few months I was mostly housebound (without Linda’s assistance), and yet had no one to email or PM, had no Christian church which I could reach or would accommodate me. Yet, all of them would “pray for me.” as a response when I approached (after a few times of that, you realize it is the ultimate conversation defense, they don't need to know anything about you, aren't even asking but they "care" so please GO AWAY!)

I AM a Christian so I have nothing against prayer, it is just I never expected “I’ll pray for you” to be synonymous with, “I am about to sever all communication with you.” And indeed since then I have noticed that for some people, people with ample availability to do more “pray for you” actually came with a pride in their apparent helplessness ("sorry, dedicated to the XXXXX Ministry, I leave this in our loving Father's hands").

For those who don’t know the story of Jesus after “the last supper” Jesus went up to a garden taking with him three of his closest friends. Why? Because he knew he was to be in pain, and soon die and was scared. He went up and prayed, crying and so depressed that he wished to die and when done returned to find his friends….asleep. With a certain anger and desperation he said, “Can’t you even stay awake with me for one hour?” Now THAT, was Jesus’ prayer to his friends. A prayer saying “be with me, comfort me.”

I went on one Christian board and said, in plain terms that I was in pain. That I was scared and right then what I did NOT need was a lot of people saying “I’ll pray for you.” I BEGGED for support, anything from human contact, to emails; some sign that I was not alone, that my fear and pain were not to be carried alone.

The response was over thirty people writing “I’ll pray for you” or posing a “praying icon” or posting some creepy “My Father has his hands on you” message. For able bodied Christian music singing group, I couldn't get enough company. For my body ripping itself apart? Alone.

Then I got the terminal diagnosis. And the word “miracle” came up. I’ll pray for you, I’ll pray for a “miracle.”

And you know, if you are a person who is housebound and have a chronic condition and all you can do is email me to say you are thinking of me and that you are praying for me; that’s is GREAT. If you come to this blog, which is for people to read and you choose to post that you are worried for me or love me or pray for me, that is ACTION. That is not stepping AWAY from me while washing your hands because you “prayed.” That is not openly ACKNOWLEDGING that I am in pain, afraid and going to die while you are going to sit back and watch, watch for a “miracle.” Even God herself got SICK of people acting this way and talked repeatedly about it, in Isaiah, in Hosea 6:6; No more empty sacrifices, God pleads, but ‘mercy’, love for each other (or in God shorthand, "What the FUCK is wrong with you people, you treat each other horridly and then come to me expecting me to fix it and try to bribe your way into my love.....you SICK FUCKS!").

Even Jesus repeated (from Isaiah), that people “come near me with their mouth….but their hearts are far from me.” So when God says that God is tired of empty prayers, what do I feel about those whose hearts, bodies, attention, compassion and memory are FAR from me. Again, repeating, if you commented that you are praying for me, I am not attacking you. I am thankful. But beyond that, perhaps I am the thorn in your mind because quite honestly, those who are least able to reciprocate are often those who NEED it the most, from a card, to an email, to a phone call. Is there really no one you know that needs to hear that they still matter, that someone out there is thinking of them?

I was going to tell you a story or two about my virtue in visiting those who others forgot. Blah blah. But I want to tell you a BIGGER story, I want to explain to you about a miracle. See, that’s the great opt out these days, to wait for God to deliver the “miracle.” And yet, if you read the accounts of miracles, they were mundane. Jesus’ first was because a wedding ran out of wine. Then there was Jesus needed to get to where his friends were (so he walked on water to get a boat - then made someone else walk on water because.....they wanted to); there was giving lunch to someone who was hungry. Yup, that’s it, someone was hungry and Jesus fed them (and a few friends). But that was a miracle.

So when a person, before heading out for their night on the town and prepping for their weekend in NY to see the shows posts on some Christian board that “gosh, too bad, I’ll be praying for a miracle.” I think of a woman with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome who when I felt most alone, felt most abandoned SENT me a miracle: a package which was a cornucopia of little things from buttons to CD’s which said, “You MATTER.” THAT was a miracle. I have had many miracles this year, most from people I never met, from cards to gift baskets telling me that I was NOT alone. When I needed a phone because my hands were having problems pushing the buttons, one arrived: THAT was a miracle (I bet you thought I forgot – the “I” right now might have but I wrote it down, so that I would always remember). And I have tried to pass it on. A miracle is a card arriving in a sucky week; it is someone listening and hearing and acting. That is a miracle. When someone says, "you need me, just call", THAT is a miracle. These are “miracles” coming from people who have chronic conditions and/or families, who have their own issues they struggle with. These aren't from people sitting around, no these are people struggling too. Which is why I am OBLIGATED to act, to pass on what I have learned...from them.

Jesus told his followers that when he comes back he will say, “Thank you for that drink when I was thirsty,” “Thank you for the food when I was hungry.” And people will say, “When did we do that?” And he replied, "Every time you do it for the LEAST in society.” I think a lot of us realize that we have slipped, in our Health and Wealth Western Worship into that status.

So this is a message for the several dozen/hundred Christians who wrote me off, to all my ex-friends and relatives in blood only who are in a hurry on their way to church (or a coffee house, which seems a North American equivilent). I am the closest you may ever meet on earth of Jesus the Christ, the person you follow. No, not because I am wise, or immortal but because I have asked, like Jesus, “Can you not BE with me for a time” while I was scared, and while in or facing pain. And if you are waiting for God to do something, passing the buck with a “we’re praying and hoping for a miracle” I will tell you. Miracles happen to me all the time, but YOU are not part of them, prayers are answered all the time, but YOU are not part of them. In fact, it seems you are part of nothing.

This week a woman snuck my racing chair at her facility to fix what BC wheelchair racing Ass. had left unworkable and fucked. She did it on the sly and her and her techs were happy to get me so I could wheel the chair up the driveway and arrive back with a smile. While I off testing and wheeling with gusto if not accuracy, she said to Linda that she wanted to help me do what I so clearly wanted, “to LIVE until I die.”

She offered. She answered a prayer, she and her team performed a miracle. I know, I remember. She went home having made a difference in someone’s life…mine. The person who offered an empty “Yeah, heard you were sick or something…..pray for ya!” – they just wasted half a breath and 10 seconds of their life. I guess the question is who you want to emulate. I know who I am trying to emulate, who I am trying to repay, who I am trying to “be there” for as much as I can. Sure, I fall, I fail, but I hope that before MY end, I can “be with” a few people for an hour, for their hour of need or fear or being alone.

On nights of extreme pain or when I wonder if I will make it through the night, I say to Linda, “Pray for me.” And she holds my hand. I am sure she prays too, I don’t ask. I just know that she doesn’t grunt a “yup” and roll over. She holds my hand.

Miracles happen everyday....when you are able....be part of one.

45 comments:

Victor Kellar said...

I don't know how to prayer. I never learned how. I grew up without any kind of religion. I have people in my life, who call themselves religious, for whom I have tremendous respect. Some I do not.

My mother in law took gravely ill and was in a great deal of discomfort. We live four hours away, but Collette's sister is right there; we asked her what she could do for her mother and her response was "I'll pray for her" We drove up in the middle of the night and Collette lay on the bed with her mother and held her as she slipped away. I wonder which of those actions meant more to my mother in law

Right now, a young woman connected to my family is in Africa, on a religious mission, doing medical work. I understand the historically distrastrous combination of religion and other cultures but this young woman .. this young pregnant woman .. is in a strange country, doing for people. I'm sure she prays, but everday she does.

So I can't pray. And I have no medical expertise. But I read your words and I hear your pain and you happiness and your fear and your joy and I begin, I think, to know you, if only a little. We are separated by space and time but I know that Elizabeth Fucking McClung is out there and even if it is only assembling video editing software for her, or telling her that I HEAR YOU .. I do. Collette and I both do.

We are here

lilwatchergirl said...

"Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ looks compassion into the world.
Yours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world."
- St Teresa of Avila

Elizabeth, you're amazing. When I forget the most important things, you remind me. If that's not God's blessing in the real, physical form of a little corner of the internet where God does something new and exciting every day, then I don't know what is.

SharonMV said...

I always wonder what ever happened to the duty of visiting the sick. Isn't this supposed to be a Christian value, a good deed, a family obligation? When you read a victorian novel or an adaptation of one on film, it was the duty of well-to-do and moral ladies to visit the sick, to bring succor, comfort, jams & preserves or broth.

I can't begin to tell you how many friends I've lost over the years of being ill. How many friends & relatives come to our local, but make plans to meet up for outings I couldn't possibly take part in. I use to be able to meet for dinner or lunch very near by, mainly because this was easier than trying to get the house clean & still be able to get dressed & visit. but for the last 3 years I've been unable to do even that much.

I thought after I received 2 very serious diagnoses that people would get it - oh, she really can't come- and come to see me, to be with me. But just yesterday, a man who has been a very close friend to us for many years came down to LA and once again made arrangements to meet with my husband in LA to go to have dinner & go to an art museum. He never has time to come an hour &15 minute drive down to see me. It's like - oh, she really is very ill - so we can leave her out of everything with impunity.

During my days of illness, I took up stitching & embroidery. When we got a computer I joined several on-line groups to share this interest, developing some friendships & a sense of community. I always sent handmade cards & gifts to members of several groups who had hard times or losses. During the last couple of years I haven't been able to stitch or do any crafts. A couple of times I posted to one of my embroidery groups about how seriously ill I was & asked for support. While people responded on the message board, I never got a card or a letter. Several months ago I posted again and even went so far as to ask for cards & letters. I received one card. And do you know who sent it? A woman who had lost her husband a few short months before. She who had recently lost the love of her life, who had been at his side for weeks after a serious accident only to lose him. She had the grace & heart to think of me.

That is what drew me to you, Elizabeth, your heart. When you asked people to let you share your happiness & trip to Japan by sending a postcard. Something in my battered heart leaped up and i thought - Yes! I want a postcard from Japan, a postcard from Elizabeth.

Sharon

I thought after I rec

yanub said...

I've noticed that, how easily people substitute prayer for action. But when someone asks for something, or clearly needs something, then the prayer has already been made, and the receiver of the request then has the choice--not to pray, but to answer the prayer. And it doesn't matter if that is interpreted as god in action or humans in community. It amounts to the same thing, and we never know what sort of person will answer our prayers. And even less often do we know when we are answering someone else's, unless they say thanks.

Anyway, I was thinking of you, Elizabeth, and Linda, and my fellow commenters in the Screw Bronze family while my housemate was watching an episode of a Japanese serial featuring an otaku who gains social grace and insight from an online community fully as disfunctional as he is. And how his growth becomes their growth, and so forth. And I don't know where I'm going with this except to say that this site is a miracle of the type you describe. And I want to thank you.

cheryl g said...

Beautiful post... and very well said! You teach me and open my eyes and mind so often with what you post. Thank you!

Elizabeth McClung said...

Sorry, I usually don't get so emphatic, this is part of a response to several things that happened to me so please, again, not attacking anyone here. Or Christians, or non Christians.

Victor: well, since I grew up with too much religion I guess we even each other out.

Yeah, I know which action honored your mother in law more. I am sure even if she was unable to say anything she was grateful, I can assure you, even when you can't see or feel much beyond the pain, you can tell if someone is there.

Yeah, I think we begin to know each other. And I can use all the help on video editing I can get. Got to keep those squirrel images fresh and not blurry. Thanks.

Lilwatchergirl: Yeah, most people don't think God swears as much as I do, but that's only becuase they skip the minor prophets. I like the poem, and I like Mother Teresa reply to the question of why would she spend time on a dying AIDS baby when she could "help" elsewhere. She said so that it would die knowing that someone loved it.

SharonMV: I hope I can be as willing to try again if I last as long as you have and suffered as much. Yeah, that story about the guy not coming down for YOU, I can identify with it and it makes me angry. What is worse is often the people will pat themselves for doing you a FAVOR "Oh, she is too ill to meet regularly" (so the invitations stop).

I am sorry that the people on the group let you down, but one. And I am glad that you haven't given up on humans, though we are a bunch that aren't very caring. I am glad there was at least one. And I am glad that you write on here - you make a difference to me and Linda and how we see things, in our lives and those around us. (if you didn't get a postcard, you'd let me know right? I can't hand deliver but I will resend what the postal system loses)

Yanub: Oh yes, I think that is true, that often we act and do not realize what import it had. I guess that is why I try to make sure people understand how much I appreciate thier coming here. I just wish I could do MORE, be more. This is sort of surreal from goth pics to scripture?

See how geek I am that I know your friend was watching "train man" (available in Manga with english translation and in film with subtitles). But exactly, I think I am stronger becuase I know that there are people who are there to support me online, who will lift me when I fall. And I hope I can, as able do the same in return.

Cheryl: Oh no, lesbians preaching Christianity, I think the lightning bolt is about to hit soon!

Elizabeth McClung said...

Cheryl: Well, you have to admit, it isn't exactly connected to ORGANIZED christianity

Stephanie said...

I don't need anyone to pray for me since if I need something from God, I am quite capable of asking Her myself. If She won't do something that I ask for, why do they think that their prayer will make Her change Her mind?

I think that Christians, like most people in general, are afraid of facing their own fragility and mortality. If it can happen to someone they know, it can happen to them, and that scares them, despite their professed believe in a greater power and life after death. So they run away instead. It doesn't make them any worse that non-Christians, but given their alleged belief in the teachings and philosophies of Jesus, it does make them hypocrites.

My advice to them is: Don't ask God to help someone who you are not willing to help yourself.

The Goldfish said...

Because I'm on my new computer, I typed your URL from memory, mistyped it and found myself at a Bible Studies site. Then I corrected the URL and...

I've always taken "I'll pray for you." as "I'm thinking of you." (I figure if there is a loving omniscient God They'll be tuned into those thoughts as well).

It matters to me, but both sentiments can be empty. I remember one time when I hadn't been out of the house and barely out of bed for almost three months and I saw my friend who lived about 300 yrds down the road, had my e-mail and phone-number and yet having failed to make contact in all this time managed to declare, with apparent sincerity, "I've been everso worried about you!"

I guess there's always been rituals, in and outside of religion, which can be filled with meaning or can be a Get out of Conscience Free Card. I'm really sorry you've been let down like this, but very glad you've found new friends in unexpected places.

Evil Lunch Lady said...

I'm here, and I allways think of you. I do not pray, I know how, but it's not sincere. Actions speak louder than prayer:)

Maggie said...

Well Beth, I guess now is as good of a time as any...There is a prayer inside my family bible and it's been in my head that I really need to share it with you. Since you've brought up the topic I guess it seems most logical to do so today. I don't know where it came from, but the date on the prayer is 1937. BTW if anyone out there in the extended family knows anything about it, please let me know!
"Every morning lean thine arms awhile upon the windowsill of Heaven and gaze upon the Lord-
Then with vision in thy heart
Turn strong to meet the day"

Lots of love

Gaina said...

I'm fascinated that you're still a christian after everything you're experiencing. If 'god' is all-powerful, then why is he/she/it sitting back and letting this happen to you?

Please don't think I'm mocking you because I'm not, I would just be really interested to know how you square christianity with the things that are happening to you now.

Heather said...

I'm not a person who prays: I'm your basic heathen who's drifting into Buddhist practice. But I've been through something like the "I'll pray for you but not act" song and dance number you describe so very well.

I'm the daughter of a long-dead, unrepentant alcoholic. What enraged me when he died was the hypocrisy of the people around him. I had my fill of post-mortem excuses: "oh no, it wasn't a secret, we all knew what was going on but there was nothing we could do," or "yes we knew he had a gun collection and was threatening to kill you but there was nothing we could do," and the "oh we worried so much but he was a fine doctor and so good to his patients." While they thought they were offering comfort, the hard truth at the heart of it was that they were confessing that it was easier for them to watch the train wreck than to try to do even a small thing to slow it down.

And it is easier to turn away from the knowledge that there is pain and there is death. But some of us choose not to turn away. And some of us know that pain is not a peep show and it is important to act even in tiny, tiny ways when someone is in pain. I think of a comment here as a very small gesture but I am glad that it helps in the darkness.

Ruth said...

Great, important,wonderful post. My experiences with this kind of thing are also not positive.

My phone no longer rings from church friends now that I can't get to church myself. If I can't get there myself (including lugging along a heavyweight power chair )
I just can't go. I guess Jesus doesn't approve of giving rides or sharing one's donkey.

I want to add one more thing I've seen church people do. I ran into one woman from church and all she asked (3 times) was if I had to sell my car to get my power chair. Had heard I was having problems. Told her - not yet. She's a gossip and was gathering info. Also wanted to know if I was worse. Worse than what? I asked.

Good Lord.

I also agree that miracles are often the small things - and what's a small thing can mean something else entirely to the recipient and people involved.

By the way,thank you again for the postcard from Japan. It was so nice to have someone who didn't treat me like a social pariah simply because I changed mobility equipment and my transportation changed. And this is why I read your blog every day - because your actions coincide with what you say. Personally I'm sick and tired of hypocrites.

Neil said...

I've always felt closer to any potential god while I'm in the middle of nature. Whether it's a forest or a farmer's field, I'm in something that a god might have made, rather than the idols of church and ceremony. I'd rather listen to the wind in the trees than the wind from the pulpit.

I first heard Ann Mortifee in the early 1980s, and I still remember the chorus from her "Beirut Song":
"Father in heaven, we're calling on your name
That we may be victorious
Though hell may bar the way
Praise to Mohammed, To Allah the only god
We will spread thy glory
In tears, in pain, and in blood
Praise to the father, the son, the spirit above
We will smite with death all those
Who don't believe in Jesus' love"

Words can have power. And you have a great deal of power over words, Elizabeth. And you've made me cry at the computer. Again. I cry because I cannot be there to hold your hand, because you go through your days with so much physical pain, because you can't get a proper diagnosis, and because you get treated so badly by the bureaucracies that are supposed to help you and all the rest of us who will need them eventually.

I dearly wish I could afford to visit you, but I can't so I shall continue to be here on the Internet for you, sending positive thoughts and zen hugs. And I shall continue to learn from you.

Love to you and Linda. I hope your day goes well.

twofistededitor said...

You don't know me, and we've never spoken, but I do pray for you. And after reading this post, I wonder if my brand of prayerful lurking is almost as destructive or negative as actively pulling away. So here I am, someone who thinks of you each time she goes online and who can be an outlet for you and who will listen if you need to talk.

Also, I have to remember that it's okay for me to ask for prayer as well, so here it is: Pray for me, Elizabeth.

Perpetual Beginner said...

It's terribly easy to turn away from someone in pain, particularly when it doesn't seem like there's anything you can do about it. "I'll pray for you" is a way to feel better about it - forgetting that actions can be the most powerful prayers of all.

I'm a horribly disorganized person, and very bad at thinking of useful things to think or do for people. So not turning away, for me, means a lot of simply sitting and being present and not turning away, even when it's horribly painful because I want so badly to do something and can't think of anything.

I wish I were better at coming up with things I could do, but at least if I'm present, I'm still in a position to do them if I come up with them.

yanub said...

Gaina, you inspired a response in me to your question. It's at http://yanub.blogspot.com/2008/05/religion-hardship-and-belief.html if you're curious.

FridaWrites said...

Elizabeth, this brought tears to my eyes. It brings to mind a lot of the frustrations I had with our church, still have. I appreciate so much the practical help that people offer--and the just being with me--whether or not that's based in religion or not. It reminds me of my nurses sticking around this week when I was sick--the last thing I'd want to do is stand there when someone's throwing up, but they did so even though my husband was there because they wanted to.

I was having a hard time with pain yesterday and just left your blog open, though it took me all day to read it and I couldn't write, just b/c it made me feel close to someone who matters to me (I like cemeteries too, used to take photos).

Victor, one person told me that you don't have to always have the words to pray--just open up and "be" with God sometimes, as you would be with a friend--sometimes active praying is too difficult. That's what someone told me when I said I couldn't pray--that's not advice or being preachy--I wouldn't describe myself as religious, though spiritual in contradictory ways, yes.

Lene Andersen said...

I've been looking for what I once saw described as The More for as long as I can remember and never found it in organized religion. Eventually, I developed a mish-mash approach combining a dollop of Christianity with Paganism and, increasingly, Buddhism. It makes more sense now, but it's pretty much a religion of one. ;)

What got me veering off on my own path was a quote I saw at the nursinghome where my father spent his last year. It's been 7 years and it's still as clear in my mind today as it was back then (and given that my memory's a steeltrap sieve these days, that's saying something). "It is never a question of faith or no faith, but in what or who we place our faith".

I believe in love and in the people I love. You're one of them.

Thanks for this post. I can feel that it's going to make my wee religion of one develop deeper.

missnomered said...

That was a beautiful post.

I'm not religious, but I guess I do believe in the power of prayer (or "good vibes", I suppose). That being said, I think just being there for someone is the most important thing.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Well, I appreciate the honest responses, since when I say, "I'm a Christian" - it is like saying, "I'm an addict" - as in it isn't a particularly peaceful thing but I feel compelled anyway. Sorry if that metaphor was a bit harsh, just try and remember I was beaten by the "christian stick" for decades and I still hanging in there.

Stephanie: True enough, though I always felt a bit dubious doing praying as asking; just seemed better to ask for someone else than myself.....except when I am in pain, be it depression or neuro.

I completely agree with your last statement, which pretty much made all those paragraphs I wrote redundant - don't ask God to do what you won't do yourself. Yupper.

Goldfish: I can only imagine, "What, ANOTHER bible study site!", yes, I believe that religion doesn't really matter for good will and wishes, or action, and yes, it seems there are 1,000 ways to avoid action, it is just in a dominant Christian society, where I grew up knowing literally NO ONE who wasn't in our church (it was forbidden) to have that yanked away THREE times is a bit harsh.

I'm glad I've met friends too, ones who can let me have my little vexation and not get angry about.

Evil Lunch Lady: like you say, you are HERE and actions speak. Thanks. I know how too, but I always get call waiting.

Maggie: is that Protestant, it is a very, "get up, and then get out and do!" kind of prayer. I've not heard it before. Mine is "I live because you sustain me, I die because you ordain it; save me you can O great God." - it's from one of the death camps. And it means that I must face foreward, regardless. Yours seems a bit cheerier somehow.

Gaina: Well, in the book of Acts, people used to sing and be happy when they were beaten because they figured if God who loved JESUS, tortured and killed Jesus then getting beaten up must mean God likes you. I am not quite in that camp but I think that when I made an agreement with God, it was that we work to make me a better person. And my experiences over the last year have helped me understand my own assumed privilage, my bias and bigotry and ignorance as well as meet a lot of great people. Yes, I am in pain, and things are not so great in the health department but this is a human condition; and I guess God thought I was worth the effort and that I could understand more by experiencing it; that I could grow as a person. It is after all, what I asked for.

Heather: Don't worry, I think to most Christians I'm pretty Heathen too. So I'll join you.

I am sorry that so many people let you and your family down. Yes, there is nothing to me like the starkness of people admitting they knew better but did nothing; helped in no way and stood by, watching. What kind of person does that?

I think that it is hard to watch pain and know our own helplessness but yes, a comment is a spark in the darkness.

Ruth: Yes, it is frustrating to have heard all those messages or to go occasionally - one time I was able to go and there was a presentation from a man who was "called to the ministry of the street" only he had homeless people, homeless drug addicts and people with terminal diseases as all interchangable and took great zeal in talking about the "squalid hell that X lied in pain, the sheets barely washed clean of his own filth as I lay my hands upon him to give the Father's touch." - I wanted to punch him in the mouth, I was thinking, "These are my FRIENDS you are talking about, you are describing in terms of gleeful horror that was used to describe THE ELEPHANT MAN!" So yes, after that, when a check of $25,000 was given to him to "continue his ministry" (pay his salary and house morgage), after he had said that "he didn't take calls in the evening because he needed his time to be with the lord (becuase sex workers, or homeless or people in pain from diseases I guess never have problems at NIGHT?). Sorry Ruth, I kind of tried to respond to you and got caught up in me. But yes, where is the change from these messages heard?

And as for the ghouls who love to know exactly how far you have fallen and then finish with, "Well rely on the lord" - to quote "Pow to the kisser!"

I agree that sometimes the smallest thing can mean something very large to another person. Like someone sending me a bulldozer. And I was glad to send the postcards, I am glad you got yours. With this company of people, it is a shame we can't meet each other in person but I would rather have someone "real" - if you know what I mean, I am thankful to know you and for the help you gave me when I needed it, and your patience with a scared newbie to the world of people entering the house and assistance. But mobilty - bah - wait till our jet packs arrive!

Neil: I like the beauty of things in nature becuase the remind me that I am small beans in the end of the day.

I do wish you would explain a bit more about the song as there is a bit of jihad in there and I am hoping that you are not planning something in Sask.

You do visit me Neil, you are a steadfast friend who visits me everyday. And in a way that I CAN be visited, when I cannot have the strength to get to the door, I can read your comment again and again. So thanks.

Twofistededitor: The blog is for me, as a part of a chronicle, as well as a sort of gift/venue for anyone who wants to read it - I certainly put nor want demands on those who read it or want them to feel guilty. I'm glad if you can read it and find it useful, or just that you spend time in a busy world to read it. Thanks for letting me know I am in your thoughts.

I will pray if you want, but I sort of need to know what for (you can email me from in the profile) -though I warn you, my prayer results tend to be like my father the minister - whose first three "healing" hands on prayers for healing of people resulted in all three dying quite quickly - well it WAS an answer to ending thier pain, just not what most hoped for.

Perpetual Beginner: Yes, yes, not turning away, in a society where we HAVE to believe that health can be bought or exercised is very hard so just being there and not turning away is strength and a gift.

I like what you say, it is like making a list of goals, if you are there, then sometimes the opportunity arrives to do something.

Fridawrites: Whew, you are having a HARD time, and I am glad that my pics can be of some help or comfort, becuase if I could be there, I would. And I am glad that you have people who are there for you (recieving help is hard too isn't it?). I think that whatever your belief, people are important and I will try to keep acting on that.

Tammy said...

You know, it wasn't until I suffered from chronic pain that I even understood what Christ meant, when he lamented "Father, why have you forsaken me?" It's hard enough to feel that God has turned his back to you, only to have the majority of your friends and family members do the same. The "I'll pray for you." became the empty escape route most of my "religious" friends took. In a drug induced, pissed off mood one day, I even called several "good" friends who haven't talked to me in nearly a year, to inform them I was in no way contagious and "yes indeed, I'm still alive."
. lol. They didn't get it.
I think we need to ask for what we want. It's sad, but I know with my husband, if I don't ask for what I need or want, he simply won't know to do it. He is just one of those people. He will do anything I ask with love and kindness, and is often grateful to know what to do to help.
Elizabeth, reading your blog has made me feel like I "know" you on a level. More importantly, I care. I'm here. I feel joy at your accomplishments, and sadness at your low points. You have inspired me to be more than what I am now, and I'm forever grateful for that.AND...I'm here! I'm thousands of miles away, but I'm listening, and you matter to me. I care. I'm here, and this bored housewife in central Indiana just said a prayer for you, but I will also be here tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, etc. "Ask and you shall receive." It works more than just in prayers.

Neil said...

Well, I WASN'T planning anything here, but now that you mention it, there is a very conservative government at the moment, both in Saskatchewan and Canada....

Ann Mortifee is a wonderful singer who wrote some beautiful, haunting songs after returning from a trip to Lebanon, Greece, India and Africa. The complete lyrics to the album "Journey to Kairos" are at http://www.annmortifee.com/lyrics/kairos.html

I've long since worn out her cassettes I bought 25 years ago; I really should order the CD versions.

Gaina: if God is all-powerful, why do we have diseases like cancer and HIV/aids? Perhaps the "cure" or genetic manipulation on god's part to eliminate such diseases would cause even worse problems? r maybe god isn't as all-powerful as we'd like.

If Beth were to have been born with standard-issue genetics, and never had the heart and other problems we see here, would she be the same Beth? I suspect that, alternate futures being what they might be, she'd be less concerned with disabilities, disease and wheelchair racing, and more concerned with fencing and perhaps teaching. I'm certain that if she were "healthy," her bog, if it existed at all, would be a vastly different one.

But Beth is who she is, and has the genes she has, and perhaps it's for a reason we are not put here to understand. Whatever; she is here, is facing a more certain future than I am, and I love reading her blog and learning from her. And I'm sorry to talk about you in the third person, Beth.

Twofistededitor: You are honest, and you read Beth's blog. You're not living next door to her ignoring her, shutting your eyes to her wheelchair and closing your eyes to her nights of pain. I'd say that's the difference between you and the people she's frustrated with.

Beth, I'm here reading, and I will be here as long as you need me. But I still wish I could be there. So what if you can't open the door; Linda could open it.

With love and hugs,
Neil

rachelcreative said...

I love your description of what a miracle is. I feel stronger knowing that the small things do count - I've heard it from you affirming what I already knew I suppose.

I was raised as a Christian but haven't practiced since before I was a teenager.

I like what Neil said about god in nature. I like what Alice Walker said in The Color Purple about how god is us, is everything.

I haven't said this to anyone before but I did find myself wanting to pray and in turn praying quite recently. And I was a little shocked that I wanted to - and then in the moment realised I have prayed all my life - through love and thought and deed.

Maybe I'm not making sense. Just to say thanks for this post.

coopernicus said...

You can lead a horse blah blah blah but you can't make it care. Saying the words is easy. Living the life takes guts.

Kathz said...

It's taken me a while to respond to this because I'm aware of how little I do. But I'll mention a book I've found helpful by the Quaker peace activist Helen Steven. (I heard her give the lecture connected with the book.) The book is called No Extraordinary Power and the blurb on the back is as follows:

"The answer to prayer may be quite simply, "What are you going to do about it?" Faced with something they believe must be changed, people can find themselves able to accomplish the unexpected. In dangerous times when so much is at risk or destroyed, the power of ordinary people can "reconstitute the world", as the poet Adrienne Rich has put it. And yet this is apparently beyond our own resources. Helen Steven asks: Do we have access through prayer and action to some kind of "extra-ordinary" power beyond ourselves, or is our power for action well within the experience of everyone, with only our deeper spiritual nature to make it "extra-ordinary"?"

I think that first sentence, that the answer to prayer may be "What are you going to do about it?" is close to the point you are making.

Helen Steven doesn't see prayer just as talking to God in a conventional way. She sees all sorts of activity as prayer - including helping someone and really seeing that person or going on a demonstration against something that is wrong. She might, perhaps, see your post on this blog as a kind of prayer.

That may seem very distant from the kind of theology in which you've grown up. But I think it helps to blur the boundaries between prayer and action. Incidentally, Quakers don't think that they're the only people with access to aspects of Truth - we are advised to look for light whatever its source. I've learnt a great deal that is good from atheists and agnostics as well as from religious believers.

Thanks for your important post. I may feel moved to share this with others at or after Meeting for Worship tomorrow - or on another day. It's not something I shall forget easily.

P.S. In case of confusion, this is kathz, quaker fencer but I'm posting from a different blog.

Raccoon said...

When I was injured, two of us ended up in the hospital. Phone calls to find out how we were doing shut down the hospital switchboard twice. Visitors every day.

Within two years, it had dropped down to about 15 people, every once in a while. I, like you, was housebound...

People don't know what to say or how to act around people who are ill or have a disability. They forget that you are a person, and just see... And you're not able to do the same things that you use to, so unless you can find other commonalities...

It's disheartening, I know. And then, to get the platitudes...

Raccoon

Gothguy said...

Elizabeth,

As a person with a disability, do not feel you are alone.

Stay true to yourself, stay the course.

I wish I could write more to be 'influential' but I cannot.

I live my life each and every day the way I want.

Gothguy

Dawn Allenbach said...

Amen!

How many people, when my brother died, said hollow, worthless things like "thinking of you", "praying for you", "if you need anything"? Dozens and dozens.

Who were the ones who really cared for me and supported me? Barney, my advisor, who knew what was going to come with that phone call and made sure he was there with me when it came. Andrea, who stayed by my bedside even when the pain meds and depression pulled the veil of sleep over me, and later doggy-sat Reba. Sarah, who came to be with me and told me to go back to sleep if I needed to, that she'd still be there when I woke up -- and she was. Liz, who brought Reba to the hospital when all I could utter in my grief was, "I want my dog!" and visited or called every day. Kim T., Jessa, Ivonne, Jessica, and Rose, who visited me en masse at the hospital and bought me a bottle of water when I said the hospital water was nasty. Barney again, who brought me popsicles when my appetite came back. Kim E. and Erika, who nursed me overnight before the hospital and visited me every day in the hospital, and especially Erika who gave me pizza -- even though it's not the recommended first solid food when recovering from a stomach virus -- simply because I wanted it. Marlo, William, Nico, and little Cylis, who visited the evening I got out of the hospital. They even stayed overnight with me two nights in a row (M and C the first night, M, W, and C the second) so I wouldn't have be alone. Kim E. again, who would hug me when I would cry. Lisa and Doug, who met me at the airport with my parents. Anita, Jess, Jonikka (who also was at the airport), and Erik, who took off work to go to the funeral and came to see me when they could while I was home. Lynlee, who when she told her blog circle what had happened wrote, "I just want to put my arms around her and hold her." Naomi, who hates funerals and refuses to go to them, who came out of love for my brother, my parents, and me. Kim R. and Suz, who called me repeatedly, talking and making me laugh when I needed it and letting me cry when I needed it.

I remember their names because they did what mattered then, and they do what matters every day of my life -- THEY OFFER THEIR LOVE AND SUPPORT. They are my miracles. Jonikka and Erik taking me to a concert. Naomi letting me hide in her apartment when I couldn't bear going in my brother's. Anita and Jess calling or emailing. That's what I needed, and that's what I got.

And then there was the blessing from out of nowhere -- a chick named Elizabeth McClung who reached through the ether and across hundreds of miles to offer me friendship when I said I felt alone. Yes, another true blessing.

Stephanie said...

Elizabeth : To be honest, I very rarely ask God for anything and the few times I do, I never ask for external events to be manipulated. All that I feel I can ask is for God to lend me strength to carry on.

The vast majority of the time my prayers consist only of feelings of gratitude. At times when I am in the deepest depth of the black hole and my soul is being compressed to the size of a quark and I wish it would just finish me off, I find the deep gratitude inside me for things that God has already done for me and for things large and small in my life. Such as my cats who have who for more than 14 years have stood by me longer and have given me more emotional support than any human ever has.

Rachelcreative: Yes, prayer is so much more than talking to God; it is that connection you feel in your heart that influences your thoughts and actions.

For myself, I don't "believe" in God. I have no theology, I can't define God. I only know what I have experienced of God. I was raised in a Mennonite family, but by the age of 9 I realized that I wasn't able to accept the theology I was being taught in Sunday school, since that horrible, vengeful, genocidal, immature tantrum throwing god of the Old Testament was completely alien to connection I have felt since a child to a loving power that is greater than me.

Throughout my life it is that connection that has helped me survive through 35 years of depression.

Tom P. said...

I'm an atheist so I won't be praying. But I will try be a friend even though we are on opposite sides of the continent.

FridaWrites said...

I am interested in knowing more about your religious beliefs and have enjoyed the posts you've made on this topic. I've waffled between a generalized spirituality, Christianity, and for a couple of years, atheism or agnosticism. Don't apologize for being a Christian--nonstereotypical Christians are the best kind.

You are here, Elizabeth, every bit as much as my family and other friends.

saraarts said...

Holy crap! There's a "praying icon"? (shudder)

I love it when you talk religion. Don't have one myself; not a believer, and no, I am not praying for you or anyone else, though I do maintain hope for events both mundane and fantastic plus a conscientious practice of not expecting the worst (whatever that might be at any given moment) until it actually happen. But I love it when you talk about religion. Perhaps you can be an internet preacher.

You can get ordained for free in less than a minute at TheMonastery.org. I have already done this! Yes, I am an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church! I have put a label on my studio door reading "HOLY CHAPEL OF THE INTERMINABLE ARGUMENTS AND ENDLESS NIGGLING QUESTIONS." I think you should do this, too -- become ordained, I mean; you should feel free to name your chapel whatever you like of course. I would like to see a Rev. Elizabeth Fucking McClung in the world, and this can be your pulpit. You know, if you want.

Meanwhile, I want you to know that in spite of my own right reverend status, I am NOT praying for you. I am hoping for good things for you, only good things, and I am rooting for you, and I am cheering on everyone who loves and helps you. Actively. 'Cause you're that cool.

KateJ said...

I'm not one for praying, myself (not surprising as I'm a non-believer) but neither was my mother,who most certainly was a Christian. She got really fed up at people saying they'd pray for her... when what she'd have really liked was someone to offer to take her out somewhere nice, or to spend some time with her doing something enjoyable and fun. What's the use of prayer, she said, the only valid prayer is "father, they will be done". Because in her view, if there is a loving God, then He would be just as caring (if not more so) for those with no-one to pray for them as those who had dozens of people praying.
In her last days, I'm glad to say, she had plenty of friends calling in, or phoning for a chat, as well as those sitting at home, or in Church, praying for her.

Judith said...

Hi Elizabeth,
first comment from me:) I am a Christian but increasingly I am unsure what that actually means- which in a strange way makes it more real, more dangerous and yes, more addictive. I struggle and I pray and nothing seems to change except that I feel more 'repaired' I guess. As in broken china stuck together ok but the light shines throught the cracks.....
I like it when my friends pray for me because that doesn't stop them turning up with tools to try and fix my radiator and leaving me money in an envelope because some idiot has got hold of my account details and whilst the fraud is being sorted I am unable to access my own money. This happened today. So I agree - prayer is cool and I'm all 'yes please - talk to God for me because I forget how' but it has to be coupled with practical, physical support. That's grace. That's Jesus feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, heaing the sick. Seems to me that he had time to talk, seems to me that he really gave a damn!
For what it's worth - and it might be plenty - I'm praying for you a good week, a strong week, friendship and healing.

Sangeetha said...

Thank you. Thank you for putting things in perspective. I am guilty of each and every point that you have accused "Christians" of behaving and more. Thank you for sharing your feelings. You have helped me more than you will ever know. You will be in my thoughts and prayers Elizabeth. I hope you get well soon.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Tammy: I agree with you, I think people like to almost "dramatise" the cross when it was sheer pain to the breaking point, and that is something I understand.

I kind of wish I had the guts to do that, call up people and tell them - yup, still alive, do ya care?

I have a hard time asking for what I want besides saying, please, let me know I am not alone. Or, be with me, for a time, as you can due to circumstance or condition, and I will be with you. Thank you for being with me, and I am glad that between the moaning and whinging there is something of use to you in the blog (I do moan a LOT!)

Lene: I think love and people are important too. One of my influential teachers said, "Humans are the only game in town." and I believe that. Not that a cat isn't handy now and then but I could and will spend a lifetime working on getting things like communicating and caring about humans down - becuase it isn't as easy as it looks.

Missnomered: I'm not really religious either, well, nevermind, I think what you say, being there for someone is about my level of religion so I am with you on that.

Neil: Thanks, I was just a little, um, "Hmmmm, what part of the kill all of them...." did Neil find inspiring? I am glad you explained and I will try to find and experience her work for myself.

The knowledge that you ARE here and do read helps me, I hope you understand that, it does make me feel not alone. Yes, we have a wee commute problem, but not alone!

Rachelcreative: Well, they count for me, and they seem to count pretty high for God too - when a drink of water, or caring about someone overlooked is what matters.

I like what you say about praying all your life. Becuase I believe that too, that when I do well, when I act in a way that is better than myself, it is a sort of prayer. Then there is the swearing.... oops!

Coopernicus: Yeah, it is, and there is always more to do than time to do it in, I still have my list from able bodied time of "things I must do" talk about backlog! But that is why I think trying to care is one of my goals, because then I think about it, look for ways to accomplish it!

Kathz: I agree with you that the first sentence is the one that resonnated with me. I also think that many people want to help but are scared to do so - I remember driving and seeing a car stopped by the side of the road, and decided - this is it, I will stop and help, and I was just about to get out when I saw a guy and his son emerging from the trees doing up thier flys - so much for coming to the rescue! But I keep stopping for people, oddly I even offer to carry things for people in the chair (hey, put it on my legs, I don't feel them!) - which I find freaks people out - but I have to keep trying, right? I can't let fear of rejection stop me.

I also believe in Truth in many sources, and have found it in many ways, I often find the Buddist "States" of being human an easy way to explain to people why I am ill.

Raccoon: Thank you for sharing this story. I understand that fear but honestly, what is different being disabled than say "coming out" - the question is, do these people want to know and share in who I am? Sadly the answer often was, "No" - which seemed kind of odd becuase if a friend goes to college, you EXPECT them to be different right. But I guess it is like family reunions and everyone acting like you are still the younger sibling or 15 and that. And yes, bad enough to get the actions which speak louder than words, but to give themselves a pat on the back with the platatude, a bit much.

Gothguy: Hey, thanks for letting me know I am not alone. I wonder did this happen for you in the goth community? I kind of wish I could find the "chicken exit" on this course quite honestly, but I can't find them, darn!

Dawn: Your comment made me cry because I know how important each person can and is when in a crisis and I too have my lists that I remember, so that you listed yours made me feel that, and see the love and respect you have for those people. But also remember those people whose names I remember too. These people were miracles, and thankful for them. I'm very embarressed and proud to be even next to such a list.

Stephanie: Well, I was always a big favorite of the prayers of Jerimaih: "Oh God, why did you not rip me from my mothers womb, so that I would die before I lived" - he had some really INTENSE prayers.

Well, I got a trip to Japan and friends who enjoyed it with me (Linda in person and everyone on line) - so who says prayer isn't answered.

Tom P: I would really like a friend, so thanks. I hope that I have Christian leanings won't be an issue (since no organized Christianity would touch me with a 10 foot pole) and I sort of wish I WAS an athiest.

Saraarts: Never underestimate the energy for Christians to make creepy things for the internet.

I laughed and laughed and laughed and read out your comment because it is SO SARA - to come at it totally left field and suggest I become ordain, just like her. Yeah, why not. Sometimes, you need to let go of the baggage and see the funny side right?

I think you are pretty cool too.

KateJ: I am sorry about the loss of your mother but I am glad that she did have people who acted instead of just mouthed intentions. And yes, God I think respects those who get many prayers and those who get few (this isn't a lotto is it?).

Judith: thank you for commenting, I know that takes both courage and commitment. I too like the friends who pray but actually get in there and do what needs to be done - who turned up with pies when Linda and I had no money and had no food.

As it happens, I need a good strong prayer week and thank you for sharing your experiences and feelings, because sometimes I feel that too, when you are in pain, or desperate, what is a "foundation" becomes more like "an examination" and I need to believe that the *I* and the *you* matter. If that makes any sense.

Sangeetha: Well, I wasn't really hoping to guilt people as inspire them so if that is so, I am happy, I don't want you to be unhappy. Thank you for your concern.

Mira said...

Thank you. I wish I'd managed to read your post so soon as it was posted. I just went through another terrible weekend throwing up for no apparent reason and sleeping on the bathroom floor alone while most of my friends were at a party an hour and a half away.

I guess my friends are finally starting to realize that if I call them - it's really bad and I either need a ride to the hospital or am seriously considering swallowing every single pill in my house and hoping I fall asleep before something else happens.

I've been diagnosed with fibromyalgia for 6 years now. I've been dealing with it for 20 years - since I was a teenager. Sometimes I'm ok - I'm normal and am able to participate in life. I can do almost anything but hold down a "real" job. Then I get flattened for a day, a week, a month. When I'm ok - I have more company online and off that most people could wish for. Until I'm sick. Then I'm home alone with only the cats concerned, sleeping on the bathroom floor.

Thank you so much for posting through the pain. It helps to know.

I do read every day that I can get up and turn on the computer. Right now - that's all I can offer other than my thanks and yes, my prayers. Please know that you make a difference.

Miss Fairy Sparkle said...

Thank you Elizabeth for all the love and energy you put into your posts. I agree - the people in pain are the Christ that Christians are asked to care for. Thank you for being an encouragement. When I am having a bad day - I think of you. I am miles away and your life makes a difference to my life. L xx

Tom P. said...

Beth - I never hold anyone's religion against them. ;) By the way, I'm a minister in the Universal Life Church, too.

Mira - My wife has fibromyalgia and syringomyelia. She has been disabled since last summer. She will probably never be able to work again.

Linda - You are an example of love for all of us to follow.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Mira: Thanks for sharing the story, though painful to read is important to know that yeah, sickness isn't about people being amusing, it is about sometimes being there when people are...er...sick? I'm sorry that you were alone and I hope you do have friends that get it and I hope that the "good" is more than the "flattened" - Thanks for commenting (oh and praying).

Miss Sparkle Fairy: I am glad that analogy didn't drop half my readers, and that it clicked becuase who is Christ, or was but a person in need, at that moment. I find it hard to think of myself as anything except an example of why you shouldn't swear so much (I'm cutting back, honest!). But I am glad that posting makes a different, as long as there is a keyboard, I will post!

Tom P: Wow, it is a regular movement, I better get on board (always try to either get ON or FAR AWAY from "movements" lest they run you over is my philosophy)

Marla said...

This is sad indeed. I have the same experience with M and friends who say that to me. Some, I know do pray and others drift away and ignore us. I guess they were never good friends to begin with. Not the real kind.

izafelidae said...

As a comment on prayer...my great-aunt Leesa was extremely devout, but i didnt know it until the last year or so of her life. She was quiet about it, always there with a soft smile and concern. She made afghans by the dozen for friends, family and anyone in need. And she was a very active member of her church and took it as a solemn duty to earnestly pray for the people on her prayer list. I'm formerly pagan, more Unitarian than anything now. While i value prayer, i heretofore thought the prayer list was sort of dumb, sort of like racking up points for being good by praying for people you've never met. In a way, i think Leesa changed that for me. She really cared, even if she didnt know the people on her list. And she is from one of those demonenations that gets down on the knees to pray.
About 2 years ago she was diagnosed w/ small cell cancer. She didnt seem to mind; she'd had an active life, was in the marines, had a great family. She had her church work. And by some fluke or miracle her friends and family didnt abandon her in her illness. She kept crocheting her afghans and joined a cancer group that made these crazy little fuzzy caps for women who'd lost their hair to chemo. She looked adorable in hers. She took a trip to a war memorial that she'd always wanted to see (i regret i cannot recall which one, but she'd fought in that war).
When she finally got too weak or was in too much pain to crochet, she still attended to her prayer list populated by people sicker than she and many people who weren't, some were just having hard times. When asked how she could bear to do that when she needed all the energy she could muster, she was surprised that anyone would even ask. She replied she did it b/c she still could and she wasnt going to let a thing like cancer keep her from doing it when people were counting on her. When asked if she ever prayed for herself, she again was surprised. She prayed for her family and hoped they would be well without her, but she seemed to be of the opinion that praying for herself would just be selfish.
She was in her late 70s and had a lot of really close friends who adored her. They didnt leave her alone.
I dont know if its an age thing or a generational thing or a cultural thing. People in our age group (i'm a Gen Xer in her 30s) have no clue how to handle illness or death. Our lives are so sanitized that we only seem to encounter it in the movies w/the helpful accoutrements of special effects and great sound and fury.
Though why God allows bad things to happen...I've been reading lots of the Conversations w/ God books and they have about the most satisfactory answer in them. For one thing, how would we even know what good is, let alone appreciate it if we never knew what Bad was? We sort of have to define a thing by its opposite. Dark is the absence of Light, Pain reminds us of when we are not in pain. Bad things happen so that good things can happen, i suppose. It seems cruel, but i suspect life would be utterly without any sort of meaning or motivation if it was all good, all light and no hint of anything else. Goodness would simply fade away into meaninglessness in the absence of anything else.
Overall, i think like is good. But it is much better when we remember to actively take part in one another's lives and try to help out if we can. People weren't designed to live alone and i dont know why we keep trying to do it.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

You've nail it.
I have SLE (Lupus) which has kept me house bound for almost two years. Going outside results in huge, painful blisters on any of my exposed skin. The pain is horrible. And, I have to where a mask when I'm out in public (maybe once a year or at the doctors office). All of those things isolate me from the world and, as you pointed out, it's not just lonely...it's terrifying.

Every single one of my local Christian friends stopped calling, e-mailing, "Praying", and/or offering any other help within a month after I was told I had to stay inside until we could find a cure. A month! Some of these women were the same women I had made a week's worth of meals for during their illnesses or births. These were the same women for whom I; babysat children; cleaned houses; sat with for hours watching funny movies; buying Netflix subscriptions for them; or going to the library to get the books they wanted. So...what happened? Well, one said she was just "too busy" with kids and she "knew I would understand" (Um. I have four kids and helped her when I was pregnant). Another got busy filling trailers for the Red Cross after the fires in So. Cal.. Another just stopped calling for reasons I'll never know. But, like you, whenever they see my husband and children, they make sure to say they're praying for me. And, of course, the obligatory "please let me know if you need help". What they forget to say is: "please let me know if you need help and I'll think of a reason I can't help." On the other hand, my atheist friends figured out what we needed. NEEDED. They arranged to have our windows covered with UV blocking film, which they paid for.

If you want a phone friend or someone to vent to, I would love to be your friend.