I was dressed and ready to go to my fitness class Saturday morning when I thought, “I’m going to take a covid test so that I can tell people that I took one and it was negative.” I knew it was just allergies, but I wanted to be able to say confidently that the test backed me up.
When the T line popped up even before the C line, I could not believe it. I kept staring at it saying, “No. No. No!”
And just like that, all our Thanksgiving plans failed. To say I was devastated is to understate the depth of my disappointment. Having adult kids who live out of town–in three different towns at that–means time when we are all together is rare. To have one of those precious times yanked out of reached felt like an assault on my heart.
Isolating from the rest of the family, I kept thinking of Anne Lamott’s book on prayer: Help, Thanks, Wow. In this book, Lamott calls these the three essential prayers, arguing that pretty much every prayer falls into one of those categories. That week, I used the “Help” prayer a lot.
- “Help me to get better.”
- “Help everyone else to stay well.”
- “Help me to see some value in this.”
- “Help me to grieve and then help me to move forward.”
- “Help me to stop crying.”
- And a lot of just “Help me. Help me. Help me. Help me.”
As I prayed, others who were interceding on my behalf came to mind: my parents and siblings, my dearest friends, my church family. Thinking of these beloveds caused me to shift to the next essential prayer: Thank you!
- “Thank you for my precious church.”
- “Thank you for my dear friends.”
- “Thank you for my beloved family.”
And before long, the last of Anne Lamott’s essential prayers emerged.
- “Wow! I get to be a pastor! Wow God!”
- “Wow! My friends and family are awesome!”
- “Wow! My dogs bring me such joy!”
- “Wow! God you are Savior and Redeemer. Wow!
By Thanksgiving Day, I tested negative. It was a little too late to salvage the holiday we had anticipated with such glad hearts, but with God’s help, we were able to make the most of the moments we did have.
Disappointment is inevitable in life; but hope is also always available to us. The author of Hebrews (who was almost definitely NOT Paul) said it this way: “Let’s hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, because the one who made the promises is reliable.” (Heb 10:23) Wow!