Strength and Courage?

Do you find that you tend to procrastinate when something feels too big? I am really good at it. Usually, I do this when I don’t know how to go about doing something new. Sometimes it actually helpful to procrastinate because I am pondering all the while, seeking advice, reading up on a subject, perhaps, and therefore I am not plunging in impetuously. Often enough, suddenly it all comes together and I know what to do and how to do it. Great! Right?

But then, there are other times. These are the times I don’t know what to do and procrastinate, but instead of it working for me, it backfires and I get caught up in overwhelm. Overwhelm is insidious because the emotion of it settles like a fog and rules over any wise thought or move that could have led me out of the anxiety jungle of my two and too oft companions, “Frantic and Panic.” Frantic and Panic hang out when the “what if’s?” and “then what’s?” of overwhelm block out my thinking brain. Pondering calmly is out. Seeking advice or at least hearing it is — out. Reading up to educate myself is out, because I have already decided “I can’t,” and my lizard brain can think rationally anyway.

Then there is church.

Send us now into the world in peace,
and grant us strength and courage
to love and serve you
with gladness and singleness of heart;
through Christ our Lord. Amen

This is the closing sentence of the closing prayer after Holy Eucharist. We say it or a similar one every week. But you never know what may be said or done in church on any given day that is just the thing you need to hear right then. It could have come just as easily through the sermon, a hymn, a scripture, a silent word to my heart, a congregant, or obviously, the liturgy.

At the communion rail, I was pouring out my overwhelm to God and asking for help. At least I was still able to do that. How can I possibly accomplish all that is in my heart to do for you, Lord? What and why am I taking this on? It all feels way too big for me.

Then the Prayer of the Daughters of the King, which has given me solace many other times when it all seems like just too much was on my lips. I recited it quietly in my heart…”I am but one, but I am one…”

Today though, there was a perfect addendum to the Daughters prayer — one we are all well familiar with. “Grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart.” There is so much in this one sentence prayer! Who knew? But the part that struck me as just for my ears this morning, was “Grant me the strength and courage…” Strength and courage. Strength and courage. Strength and courage…

I certainly need courage! I am in overwhelm after all. I am embarking on something I have never done before. And strength? Yes, indeed. I need strength not to friggin’ walk away! My instinct is to just pretend I am not hearing the call to step up and take this on, ignore it, put it off at the very least, and maybe just never quite get around to it, even though I wish I would and hope somehow I do, or maybe I don’t even need to after all… Procrastination at its finest. Familiar?

So, instead, I am making this my prayer for this week: Send us (I am not alone, we are all in this together) now (not “someday” – although that is much more comfortable sounding) into the world (where there is judgment, criticism, roadblocks, failure, oh my!) in Peace (not overwhelm!) Grant me the strength (Your strength in my weakness, Lord, in my ignorance, lack of experience and possibly, ability) and courage (to feel the fear and do it anyway) to love and serve you with gladness (not begrudgingly or reluctantly, but with enthusiasm!) and singleness of heart (focused on you and all about you and not about me, hello?) THROUGH CHRIST (I can do all things! with my helper, friend, redeemer,) our Lord. Amen. (Whew! Together with Christ, somehow…)

Ahhh, that’s better. Thank you, Lord. Hear our prayer.

Eternal God, heavenly Father,
you have graciously accepted us as living members
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ,
and you have fed us with spiritual food 
in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.

Send us now into the world in peace,
and grant us strength and courage
to love and serve you
with gladness and singleness of heart;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

I am never going to outgrow or get tired of hearing this. And that’s OK.

Jessie Hipolit

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