“Or you might shout at the top of your lungs or whisper into your sleeve, “I hate you, God.” That is a prayer too, because it is real, it is truth, and maybe it is the first sincere thought you’ve had in months.” ~ Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: Three Essential Prayers

I grew up believing in God, in His power, His grace, and His mercy.  I grew up believing that through Him, anything was possible.  “Ask and you shall receive.” 
I prayed to Him nightly.  I always counted on Him to be there for me when I was at the end of my rope.  And when things were good in my life, I thanked Him for all my blessings.
But tragedy struck my family.  My baby sister was diagnosed with cancer and in front of my eyes, she was dying.  I prayed fervently and vehemently for Him to cure her.  I figured that since I very rarely asked Him for anything, He could at least grant me my one wish to save my only sister’s life.
Despite my prayers, and those of all who loved her, she died anyway, a painful and cruel death at the tender age of twenty-two.
I thought surely that after suffering the devastating loss of my sister, He would let me live a peaceful, happy life filled with love and stability.  Instead, it was His will that I should meet and marry the alcoholic loser to whom I would lose the prime years of my life, even though I prayed for the opposite.
Everything that I asked Him to grant me, He gave me the opposite.
Eventually, I simply stopped asking.  Why ask?  For surely He would give me the exact opposite of what I wanted.  But “God doesn’t give you want you want, but He gives you what you need”, right?  Really?  Did I need to have my sister die?  Did I need to endure the hell that I was living during the years after her death?
And now I am at another crossroads in my life.  I need Him — the Him that I loved and believed in when I was a kid, the one who I knew was on my side and the one who would never forsake me.  But I don’t trust Him anymore. How can I come to Him when I no longer trust that He will grant me the wishes of my heart?  How can I trust Him when deep down I fear that not only will He not give me what I want, but might instead give me the exact opposite?
Where do the forsaken go?

Face the Sun

“The Earth would die if the Sun stopped kissing her.” ~ Hafiz, The Gift

I have a little potted rose plant which I keep on my kitchen counter below the windowsill. I, a known former owner of a black thumb, have lovingly kept this rose plant alive and healthy. While I have killed no less than twenty plants in my life, I have become in recent years quite capable of growing and managing to keep alive several plants in my apartment.
While my little rose plant has managed to stay alive, I did notice that none of the leaves were growing and the rosebuds were not blooming. I decided to move the rose plant from below the windowsill to the ledge of the window to allow the sun to hit it more directly. Within a week, my plant grew four leaves, and the rosebuds started to bloom.
All it needed was to be kissed by the sun.
I started to think about our lives, we humans, and the ways we need to grow. How do we expand our wings and grow — into a better person, a better parent, a better friend, a better version of ourselves? 
Like my rose plant, we can manage to stay alive, but in what way do we face the sun so that not only are we alive, but we are actually living? We all need to get out from under the windowsill, stand on top of the ledge, lift our faces to the sky, and let the sun warm our lives with its kiss. Only then can our lives truly bloom.