Imagine getting into a taxi and saying: “Please don’t take me to the airport. Please don’t take me downtown. Please, please, please don’t take me to the west end. Please don’t take me to work or school or the hospital. Please don’t take me any of those places.”.
Seriously, can you imagine how strange that would be? And how unproductive from the point of view of the driver? How long do you suppose the driver would let you go on before saying: “Okay, okay! Where CAN I take you?”?
I’m a big fan of Stuart McLean’s. Last Sunday as I was driving to yoga, listening to Vinyl Café, he said something that struck me: “Worrying is praying for what you don’t want.”.
So true. When you appeal to God, the universe, or whatever higher power you make your deals with, do you generally ask for what you want, or what you don’t want? My worries often go something like: “Please don’t let me be late for work!”, “Please don’t let me get a parking ticket!”, “Please don’t let me screw this up!”, etc. etc. If the universe were that taxi driver, I imagine she would be like: “Okay, okay, what CAN I do for you?”. Her voice would have that slightly exasperated “work with me here” tone.
Perhaps a good prayer is asking for what you DO want. “Please let me be on time!” is as easy to say as “Please don’t let me be late!”, but it puts the emphasis on the desired outcome, and in the process the worrier is elevated to the prayerful. Moreover, there’s something courageous about articulating what you want. There’s something very heart-full in digging deep and asking for it.
Does it help? Well, that’s between you and your God, but between me and the taxi driver, knowing where you want to go is the first step in getting there.
Photo by Erin Bidlake