I see this all the time. People who are all “God answers prayers!” and hashtagging photos with things like #miracles and #blessed and all that. And I can’t help myself, I roll my eyes.
Wait, no, let me explain. It’s not that I think it’s all hooey. Far from it. I’m actually quite the Catholic girl. My one and only tattoo? Is a linear version of St. Brigid’s Cross. Because #irishcatholic
But I see these people who are always talking about how God answers prayers, God is a healer, God performs miracles, and I wonder…what must they think of us? I mean, if praying to God fixes things in their life, what am I doing wrong? Why is Maura still the way she is? Why didn’t God answer my prayers with her?
I wonder, do they all thing I’m not praying right? That I’m not a good enough Christian? I mean, back in the day, if you had a child with some sort of problem, it was seen as a punishment from God for the sins of the parents. Do they think my child’s health status is because of a lousy prayer life? That I should find Jesus and have a talk with Him about things, and then poof! My daughter is healed?
Maybe I’m too cynical. Maybe I don’t believe enough. Because God knows – KNOWS – I’ve had more than a few conversations with Him over my daughter. Somehow, my desperate pleas of “Please God, don’t let it be epilepsy.” went unheard as I drove her to the doctor after her first grand mal seizure. As did my prayers of “Please God, let THIS doctor have an answer for us.” Nothing but radio silence and more “We don’t know what causes your child’s disabilities.” from the doctors.
Obviously it’s because I’m doing something wrong, right? Because other people are #blessed and #seeingmiracles all over the place. We know, because they hashtag the crap out of their posts when they give their #praisereports.
Or maybe it’s because I don’t believe in Santa God. I don’t believe God’s up there going “You went to church every Sunday Pauline, you get all the blessings…as for you Peter, oh, I checked my naughty list, no blessings for you. You didn’t pray hard enough.” I just don’t think it works that way.
Also, maybe it’s because, well, I don’t feel like my child’s a burden. I think she’s a fabulous person, full of joy and life, who gives back so much love to us. Maybe I’ve already accepted my daughter and all her disabilities as perfect in her own way. The way God made her. Because God doesn’t make mistakes, right? Isn’t that what they say? So if I pray to God to “fix” her, I’m saying to God “Hey, you made a mistake here, can you correct it?” and then He’d be all “Oh, my bad, here you go.” and I can be all hashtag blessed with the #miracles.
But it doesn’t work that way. My faith life doesn’t work that way.
So why does all the hashtagging of blessed and miracles and answered prayers bother me?
Because it sort of implies, if just second-handedly, that my life isn’t as blessed. That my child isn’t as much of a blessing. That God doesn’t hear my prayers. That maybe I am not a “good enough” Christian, or the right type of Christian. It implies, just like all the intake forms I fill out for my daughter, that somehow maybe I’m to blame for the disabilities in my daughter’s life because I’m not praying hard enough. You may not say it, you may not even imply it, but when you’re all “Hooray! God helped me found my car keys. #prayerworks!” and I’m looking at yet more “We don’t know what’s wrong with your daughter, try again in two years.” paperwork, it’s a bit like sandpaper dipped in lemon juice on an open wound. Because if prayer works like that, then that means it was more important to God to help you find your car keys than to help me find a diagnosis for my daughter.
Luckily, as I have stated, my faith doesn’t work that way. I’m kinda old school Irish Catholic, “Ah well, it could be worse” kind of gal, with a dash of superstition and a whole lot of optimism. I don’t think God plays favorites, or doles out answers to prayers like participation trophies at the end of a suburban soccer season. I don’t think I’ve been abandoned, and I do believe the Lord works in mysterious ways because I’m never quite sure why things go a certain way.
Or maybe I just don’t need to hashtag my faith life. Unless it’s a #helpMaurameetPopeFrancis – because the Pope is awesome, and I think he and Maura would get on like a house on fire and that much happiness in the world brought together may just bring that peace you’ve been praying for.