My thoughts on thoughts and prayers

Slackrelige. That’s what I call it when you post “Sending love and prayers!”, “I’m praying for you and yours,” the oft-ridiculed “Thoughts and prayers!”, “Praying!”, “Prayers!”, or a praying hands emoji, with or without any number of heart and angel emojis, and on a friend’s social media status involving death, disease, rehab, accident, layoff, natural disaster, or any other tragic life event.

Slackrelige. That’s what I call the feeling that you’ve really, truly done something to bolster your friend/relative/acquaintance when all you’ve really done is take a few seconds out of your busy life to type some hollow supplication in a social media post. It’s that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you can throw down a “{{hugs}}” and don’t even have to go to the Walgreens, get a card, write a note, lick a stamp, and go to the Post Office. Hell, you don’t even write out a whole entire sentence, but boy have you made them feel better, and now you feel better too.

Slackrelige. That’s what I call the feeling that you’ve done your Christian duty to help the cause, situation, crisis by posting on social media. You haven’t even left your house or even your pajamas, but by golly, you’ve passed on that prayer chain meme and you just know those poor flood/fire/hurricane victims will get more “thoughts and prayers” because of it. Thank the Lord and bless their hearts.

Slackrelige is sacrilege. Why? Because, as we all learned in Sunday school, “faith, if it hath not works, is dead.” Dead. Even with an archaic “hath” (I’m a King James kind of girl), that’s a pretty darn clear message. Dead. And I’m not so sure a social media post qualifies as a “work.” It’s really more like a pastime.

That’s why you’ll never see me post “thoughts and prayers” when you have a crisis. Why? One reason is because I don’t actually pray a lot. If you ever see me post that I’m going to pray for you, you can rest assured that I’ll be jumping down on my prayer bones to lift you up. And if I don’t post “prayers” for you, it’s nothing against you. It’s that I don’t want to lie or be hypocritical about something as serious as my personal religious practice, such that it is. I’m more likely to post “thinking good thoughts for you” because I am sincerely thinking about you and wishing you all the best in your situation. But I don’t want to add insult to injury by lying to make you feel better.

Slackrelige. I don’t believe in it because I don’t think it does any good. Now I do think that the recipient of these comments do feel some better. I’m sure they feel like the wagons have been circled and that they feel awash in love, empathy, and compassion. I reckon they do. I really don’t know if they do or they don’t.

But every time I see a “prayer chain” or a call for “prayer warriors,” I can’t help but wonder how much better the beneficiary would feel if someone brought a casserole or a sack of groceries or a cake. What if someone took up a collection from the “chain” and paid for a semester of college tuition or some text books? What if some “warriors” gave them next month’s rent or helped repair the junker that they rely on to get to and from work every day? What if you bought them a new coat or an interview dress or some warm socks? What if you tipped a little more and griped about the service a little less? What if you came to the funeral home/hospital/sick bed and held a hand, hugged a neck, offered a shoulder to lean on?

Now I’m not saying you don’t do all these things. Maybe you do! I hope you do. I hope I do when the time calls for it. But every time I see hundreds of comments, hundreds of empty posts, hundreds of little, shiny emojis, I fight the “what ifs” and I wonder if the prayed-for really feel any better at all or are they thinking “That blamed Peggy Sue! She can’t get off her fanny to bring me a pound cake now that Granny is worm food but she sure can spend a weekend in Pigeon Forge living it up on fudge, scented candles, and straw brooms.”

While I’m at it, let’s talk a little minute about the “unspoken prayer request.” If you can’t speak it in public, I’m not praying for it. I don’t know what’s in your heart or in your mind, and I’m not using up my precious time with Jesus to pray for something that is a complete and total mystery to me. For all I know your “unspoken prayer request” is that the hussy who got caught in flagrante delicto with your husband in the choir room after cantata practice chokes on a chicken bone at the covered dish dinner and falls down dead right there her potato salad but not before she comes down with a terrible case of the crabs. I don’t want to be an accessory in the eyes of the Lord to your revenge fantasy. No way, Tammy Faye.

So there you have it, all my thoughts on thoughts and prayers. And if you get mad reading this post, maybe you’ll pray for me. Or at least think a good thought for my mortal soul before you take to your keyboard and send me an email. {{hugs}}

p.s. During a recent life event, which I did not publicize on social media, a co-worker and friend sent me a message to ask for my relative’s name so that the friend could offer up a prayer with a specific intention. My friend took the extra time to reach out to me directly and offer some words of comfort, and while it was through social media, it did, in fact, make me feel better during a pretty stressful time. I guess it just goes to show, that maybe sometimes it’s not just the thought that counts, but the effort.