No, not basket case, (although I’m sure there’s a hint of that, too) basking case.
This story starts with a rebuttal.
When I first came back to church, people started asking me if they could pray for me. Most of the time, I said no.
But after awhile, after racking my brain to come up with anything I might like the almighty creator of the universe to help me out with, I finally decided on the one prayer request I felt comfortable asking.
“I’d like to be able to love and serve others better,” I mumbled more to my feet than to anyone in particular.
And the response?
“No, that is not what you should pray for.”
Since when do prayer requests have to pass quality control? When I was a junior high youth leader we’d pray for students’ sick fish, cats, and nano babies. No prayer was too big or too small.
But the congregation had spoken: I was not to pray to serve others better.
“I have an image for you instead,” they said–they all said, different people on different occasions. All with the same image, the same concept. The same Instead…
Instead they all had an image of me basking in God’s love.
One couple told me, “Aly, you are beautiful. I see you lying in a meadow. Soaking in God’s love.”
Another woman (on a separate occasion) told me: “I see a picture of you in a field of flowers, basking in God’s love.”
Another person straight up told me, “No, I don’t think you should pray to love others. I believe you need to bask in God’s love.”
The first time I heard this, I scoffed.
The second time I heard this, I scoffed.
The third time I heard this, I started to get nervous.
Basking, really? That’s about the sissiest verb I’ve ever heard and somehow everyone in this church is obsessed with it.
I didn’t want images of soaking and basking and laying lazily in a field of wild flowers. I wanted to help people. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted my god to care about injustice and oppression. I wanted my god to help me love others better, to quiet the guilt in my heart for being born to a well-off family in the wealthiest country in the world.
If you’re going to give me an image, I thought, let it be of selling all I have and giving it to the poor. An image of writing award winning exposés that shut down sweat shops and bring justice to the marginalized around the world. An image of revolution. Of anger. Of action.
That’s not what my church friends had for me. And it’s not what God had for me either.
Little did I know this was the beginning of the basking.
Check back next week to read how my skeptical little heart began to bask in God’s love.
Have you ever been given a word or image that didn’t sit right with you at the time? How did you respond?