“Would somebody cut my meat?”
“I want somebody do my buttons!”
“Why won’t somebody help me!?”
My sweet little 4 year old, Clare, seems to have discovered a new way to ask for help. Instead of addressing the person she wants to help her directly, we’ve all collectively been renamed. Somebody.
Reflecting back, I think this peculiar manner of addressing us really hit its stride after Gabriel was born. Our time and attention have undergone pretty major adjustments and every child handles a new baby differently. We’ve had both of our mothers come to stay with us, plus we delivered Gabriel in a city near some family. There have been lots of extra hands and a rotation of helpful faces. Which don’t get me wrong, is a HUGE blessing! But somewhere in the beautiful chaos Clare has forgotten how to ask politely for help. “Somebody” was always around so obviously “somebody” should be able to help her.
My new response in all this is, “My name isn’t ‘somebody.’ When you remember my name I’d be happy to help you.” I’m happy to help once she respectfully asks for it.”
While this might be a good response for a child in need of some retraining, how wonderful our God doesn’t have a similar response for us! Human history is riddled with examples of complaining, mistakes, anger, pride and ungrateful behavior. Just check out the wandering in the desert in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Or the Babylonian Exile in Lamentations. Let’s not even get started with what the prophets had to go through!
Humans (Aka me) are notorious for being rude, impolite, snarky and plain old difficult when things aren’t going our way. This happens especially when the circumstances are beyond our/my control. “If only somebody would let me have my way/listen to my idea/help me achieve my goal/etc.”
Did you notice all the me’s and my’s in that? The more I focus inward the less I look at who is actually helping me.
Did you know that in these moments of testing and trial there is a very simple prayer which could be said? Conveniently, it even gives “somebody” a name – Jesus. The prayer is called ” The Jesus Prayer.”
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Have mercy on me, a sinner.
You probably already have it memorized, right? Or could in just a few minutes of effort. This little prayer can revolutionize your daily life. Whole books have been written about how, but here are a few highlights:
- This prayer clearly identifies who is in charge here and to whom we ought to be speaking to
- We are reminded of Jesus’ divinity as God and His ability to extend mercy and love
- We recognize that we are not in charge, that we are sinners and that we are always in need of Jesus’ merciful love
- This prayer can instantly center us by pulling our focus back from whatever trouble we are having in order to see the bigger picture. God is God, we are not, and whatever joys or sorrows we have today will be better understood from a place of peace and prayer.
Interested in learning more about this prayer? Check out these writings:
Peter Kreeft on the Jesus Prayer
The Jesus Prayer in the Orthodox Tradition which has a very rich history of study and use.
The next time you wish somebody would come to your aid, slow down and take a breath. Inhale the first words of the prayer. Fill yourself with Jesus’ name. As you exhale, breathe out the second half. Release whatever your struggling with and place it at Jesus’ feet. Continue allowing yourself to be filled and emptying what you do not need to carry. With practice, you will find a peace within yourself you may not have had before.