I remember the days when after-school cartoons and grilled cheese sandwiches satisfied my soul. A simpler time, when my grandma would tell me to hurry up and brush my teeth, so we could say prayers. The security of being tucked in tight and reciting a chorus of an Our Father and a Hail Mary kept stability in my home life. I believe in prayers before bedtime.
When I was ten, my mom packed her bags and backed out of our driveway. My attitude turned sour after she abandoned me. I moped around the house like nothing bad ever happened to anyone else. I hurled a sassy comment at anyone who tried to offer comfort. To say the least, I became a real pain in the behind to be around. When my grandma finally had enough, she came up with a new prayer ritual; I was to ask God to help me with one negative thing that was weighing me down and then thank Him for three positive things.
On our first night, I remember sarcastically asking God to help me find peace. Then, in a sugary-sweet tone filled with disdain I thanked God for blessing me with a mom who cared for me, for protecting me from evil, and for blessing me with the greatest family. For a long time I struggled to think of three things to be thankful for, but I could easily come up with ten things to complain about. But my grandma never gave up, every night it was the same. As time passed, I was forced to look at the positive in my life. I was able to let go of annoyances with more ease. I look back now and realize that she gave me a tool to keep me from spiraling into an adolescent depression and a long tired life of “woe is me.”
I am now amidst the college growing pains, the grey area of childhood and becoming an adult, where responsibility comes faster than the skills to deal with it. I find myself turning to a familiar and comforting belief. I ask God to help give me the strength to not give up on my future and then I thank Him for the opportunity to go to school, the friends that I have been blessed with, and the resilience that carried me through my childhood.
I have become more cynical of religion as I age. I don’t agree with religious dogma and devoutness, but I always come back to prayers before bed time. Knowing that I don’t have to take a go at the hard stuff alone makes it easier to bear and remembering the good stuff keeps my soul satisfied.
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