Jesus be near

A week or two ago Seth Haines was asking around for contributions on a series centered on the prosperity gospel, on the ways it creeps into our life. Sign me up, I said, calculating my angle. I was going to rant about women and oppression and Half the Sky (which I had just watched, and which had left me undone) and our horrible pursuits of blessing. I was probably going to write something also about confusing American blessings (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness–often at the expense of others) with kingdom blessings (you know, those pesky fruits of the spirit that are born out of things like . . . suffering).

But then tragedy came and slammed us hard, knocked us down, dragged us to the door. So my rant evolved into a quiet little question: what do you cling to when it all hits the fan?

It’s funny how things change, so fast.

Head on over and read it, probably one of the more vulnerable pieces I have ever written. The husband left today to fly to Japan and here I am, alone. Very little for me to cling to here–no family or heart friends or people who have known me for more than a few weeks. I don’t know my neighbors, don’t know all the customs of this place, I am scared to drive and the baby hasn’t napped in 2 days. I am freaking out, a bit.

But someone prayed for me yesterday and it changed things, inside. I could feel the tears already starting. We always think we will be successful in our pursuit of happiness, just one touch away from it. If only I was closer to my family. If only all of my neighbors wanted to be best friends. If only the heaven rained casseroles for a week straight. If only people didn’t get in car crashes. Then, then I would be finally happy.

But what if I gave all that shit up? What if I realized that right here and now, in the most mystical and mundane way, Jesus Christ wanted to fulfil all my needs and longings, how he knows them anyway and came to carry them into himself; what if I believed it? But I find myself arguing but that’s too simple; someone has to pay for this world, for the way things turn out. And then I hear, so small and simple: someone already did.

I think that is what this lonely week is for. I feel the hard parts I have worked hard to build up collapsing; I feel my identity shifting. I feel like I don’t know how to explain this without reverting to the Christian language I grew up hearing, but this is terrifying and life-altering stuff here.

And the only prayer I have been praying for these past two days is pulsing with life, calming my spirit. It is the only thing I can think of, and it is already healing my fears.

Jesus, be near.

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6 thoughts on “Jesus be near

  1. I’m sitting at work in an elementary school office and trying not to cry as I read your post. Thank you. You’ve given additional words to something I just was able to articulate last night: I have fears which own me. They rule me, and shape my life in ways which I hate. I needed to hear that I am known and loved and my identity doesn’t have to be rooted in things around me being perfect. Or being perfect myself.

  2. i am so thankful that you’re so mature about this … but i want to lie on the floor and have a tantrum on your behalf … prayers and love for you today and throughout the week ahead.


  3. I know this feeling so well, Danielle. And I am so sorry. If I could, I’d reach through this screen, make the sign of the cross on your forehead and bless you with the words of Aaron. Keep saying that Jesus-be-near prayer, keep hugging your toddler and maybe nap with him, all wound up together. Rent a tear-jerker OR a very happy/romantic bit of a movie (I watched Jane Austen stuff over and over, repeating my favorite parts, during the years my son-in-law was wasting away), Drive to a park in a different part of town and take a long walk with your little one. Find a Catholic or Episcopal church that is open and go in, sit for a minute, maybe light a candle. Call a heart friend. Call a special family member. And keep writing this down – it will help you and, man alive, it speaks to all of us. Volumes.

  4. Tanya Marlow says:

    Jesus, be near – I am praying this for you now. There is so much power in that simplicity.


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