I think God held my head in Custer, South Dakota last week. This was after the week before when she got me from limping to walking straight and steady. It seems likely to be God because of the healing-the-lame business. But then I got to thinking more and trying to put my God thoughts in their right places with gender and love and certification, and it came out a little more jumbled than I meant it, and then the thought was too hard to hold on to, so I’ve settled on this: whether or not she disappears or doesn’t disappear when I leave her Occupational Therapy office, God held my head last week in Custer, South Dakota. And I cried. And I am suspicious that Jesus might have gone to the same training as my God-Lady, because how else was he making the people walk again in all his funny stories?
It went like this: I had to go back to my massage therapist Lady. It was on account of the beautiful things there are in South Dakota to see, with its Black Hills and swooping ospreys and baby bunnies that my little bum foot that was healed and may have asked for a little rest did not get what it asked for. So I took my little bum foot back to my Lady who had worked wonders the first time, just a week ago. I was sorry to not take care of the gift she (and a couple of Anonymous-You-Know-Who-You-Are’s) gave me to have my walking back.
This is where I am suspicious of my new Lady being God. She wasn’t mad. She said I was so smart to come back.
And then, she asked me questions and when I told her about all the hiking, she did not say “You were so bad to use it so much! This healing I gave you!” She said, “That sounds so beautiful. Aren’t these hills wonderful places for adventure?”
I told her all about my secret sleeping and swimming spots. She said, “I know these places.”
I told her I was stung by a wasp just that morning. She said, “I have some menthol around here, let me put it there. Now, isn’t that better? The sting will still sting for a bit, but you won’t know, for now.”
She said, “You are doing much better.”
She said, “Your pain is special, but you aren’t alone.”
I said, “Thank you.” And then, when she was helping me with my neck and had to hold my head, I resisted. I held up my head and she waited. And she waited until I finally gave in to her hands and she said,
“There we go. You see, I didn’t need you to hold yourself up. I know you were only trying to help, but I am strong enough to hold you.”
And that is when I cried. And she was quiet until she said, “Now where are you heading from here?”
“It’s just that I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing when everyone else is prayer warrior-ing,” I told my Someone. I was complaining again. Social media told me that a person needed help. They were calling all hands to deck to pray. I don’t know how to be a Prayer Warrior. I am not the person anyone thinks of as their Praying Friend. And I was agitated.
“Maybe you could just think some nice thoughts?” my Someone suggested.
“But that’s not what they’re asking for,” I said.
“Well, what do you want to do?” he asked.
It goes like this: I am the janitor in a long hallway, mopping the floor after all the Warriors walked through with their muddy Bible-time shoes, clustered in a room with a locked door. And that door’s window was just tall enough that I couldn’t see through it even on my tippy toes. I keep mopping. I put my ear to do the door. Just murmurs. I wait.
“Maybe I could get all the Prayer Warriors a glass of water?” I say.
“Maybe,” said my Someone, “but they are to be praying without ceasing. That might be distracting.”
I keep mopping. I wait. I remember there is another entrance to the Praying room.
“Maybe I could guard the back door to make sure no one else gets in while everyone is praying? Like maybe a Heavenly Back Door guard dog? Maybe Butter could help me?” I suggest.
“Maybe,” said my Someone. This clearly wasn’t the answer. I’ve read the Bible. Dogs are for under the table scraps, not helpers.
I circle back around with my mop. Then, I realize what is true: while everyone is busy in the room asking God to fix something, no one is trying to fix the thing itself.
“What if I maybe ask God if I can fix it? Like, maybe I can say– Um, hey, merciful Jesus-Face, I know you are super busy with this room full of praying people, and totally take their request, but if there’s something I can do, just let me know, because I kind of feel like maybe we don’t really need you to step in to everything if there’s something we can do, okay?” I wait.
My Someone waits. Then he says, “But, then, aren’t you praying?”
I wonder sometimes if maybe it’s more simple than praying. I wonder sometimes if the way we ask for prayer is actually just asking for someone who knows something to help us. Maybe I should be a better believer in miracles. Or maybe I am– maybe I am coming to believe that we have everything we need already here to fix our toothaches and our broken hearts. It’s just a matter of asking for it. And maybe if we spent less time clogging the celestial phone lines and more time asking each other, we could have all of our prayers answered. In an earthly sort of way. Little bum feet don’t seem to get healed by asking God every day. But asking a friend for help sometimes helps us meet God. Even if it’s just a little God-Lady in Custer, South Dakota.
I wonder if it would make me a little less angry with God and a little more hopeful in humanity, too, if when we got what we needed, we said thank you to each other. Praise you, God-Lady of South Dakota, who fixed my bum foot. Praise you, little dog, for making my day better. Praise you, Anonymous-You-Know-Who-You-Are’s, for helping me pay to fix my ailments. Praise you, Angie, for answering my text. Praise you, Ryan, for asking how I am feeling. Praise you, my Someone, for this cup of coffee.
I could sing praises for an eternity this way. I think God will, too.
I need to read this a thousand times, and then maybe start all over again.
Thank you, Jessica. Let’s be together a thousand times more to figure it out together.
How did I miss this article and why did it pop up now? This is beautiful, Mallory. I teared up on the patience and no-condemnation approach of the “god lady”, also. Her focus was on you, not your behavior. Like water for thirst, forgiveness, deep-down-in-the-soul-forgiveness… there is nothing like it. You captured that sense, perfectly.