Santa left Anne Lamott’s Help, Thanks, Wow under the Christmas tree for me this year and I read it in three days, between Christmas gatherings, a 6-year-old’s birthday party, and a night out with my brother and sister-in-law.
I found it calming to read a chapter each evening after I went to bed; it grounded me and helped me feel less alone. Yes, I was surrounded by people who love me, but I still felt lonely. Winter holidays do that to me. This little volume was a comfort and reminded me that God doesn’t care how I pray, only that I do.
“We can say anything to God. It’s all prayer,” Lamott says.
Really? Anything? I believe that’s true. I used to be afraid that if I didn’t say the “right” thing, God wouldn’t like, or maybe even wouldn’t listen to, my prayers. Now I know that He listens to whatever it is, even if I can’t say it. He knows what’s in our hearts, what we desire, what we need.
Lamott writes about these Three Essential Prayers, and I find myself using the first one most often lately: Help.
“Help. Help us walk through this. Help us come through.
“It is the first great prayer.”
Help me get through this 12-hour day. Help me trust again. Help me remember to pay the bills. Help.
The second great prayer is Thanks.
“ ‘Thanks’ can be the recognition that you have been blessed mildly, or with a feeling as intense as despair at the miracle of having been spared.”
Thanks for that dollar I found in my purse. Thanks that it wasn’t a cochlear implant failure. Thanks that everyone arrived safely. Thanks.
The final prayer? It’s one that I think we all could use more of: Wow. Wow!
“ ‘Wow’ means we are not dulled to wonder. We click into being fully present … ”
Wow, look at that sunset! Wow, I did a real pushup! Wow, she brushed her teeth without being reminded! Wow!
I’ve discovered that these three little prayers are all I need, for everyday situations, for extraordinary situations. God knows what I mean when I breathe, yell, or gasp each one-syllable word.
Help. Thanks. Wow.