Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"My Heart is with You"

Prayers are tricky things.

I never know what it really means to say to someone, "My prayers are with you". I know it means that the person wants to share love and concern with you and to provide support.

All of that is well and good and beautiful and is the way we should treat each other.

We live in such a diverse world, however, and how do we share that feeling when we don't really know what the recipient thinks of prayer?

My very secular friend has recently lost her secular mother and within days after her mother's death to cancer found out that her secular, 94-year-old father has esophageal cancer. Giving prayers to someone who doesn't believe in prayer becomes a sticky wicket.

I remember a time long ago when D and I received a letter from one of his cousins who was going off to do "mission" work. She was asking for money from all, and prayers from "good Christians". We were very involved with Judaism at the time; I even worked at one of the local synagogues. Her decision that my prayers weren't "good enough" was one of the most offensive things I've ever encountered.

Life can be capricious and random; on a global scale, my heart goes out the victims of the terrible earthquake in Italy, and especially to those who have not only lost their homes and loved ones, but in fact, their entire village and way of life. This is beyond imagining to me. On a local scale, a close relative in his 50s almost died this week when his bowel ruptured - despite the dire predictions of his medical team, he pulled through and is expected to go home in a few days. At the same time, within the same family, a beloved father is battling severe heart disease, maybe for the last time.

Life on my own end continues to be somewhat challenging if not dramatic - we're still getting my mother settled, I'm still trying to catch up with everything, and given a particularly nasty attack of arthritis, I'm moving slower than molasses. A good friend has been writing me back and forth and in her last e-mail she said, "My heart is with you".

"My heart is with you."

I loved that. There's no interpretation necessary. It doesn't need to be viewed with a religious lens. It doesn't need a cultural explanation. It's simple and it does the job beautifully.

So for all my friends and relatives facing challenges right now (and yes, there are sadly too many currently): my heart is with you.

Have a peaceful Tuesday.

35 comments:

City Girl said...

I LOVE THAT. I always say my thoughts are with you (I am very secular) but my heart is with you just has a warmer aspect. Good luck with everything on your end.

Luisa Perkins said...

Oh, I hope I haven't offended you in the past with my prayers. My heart is certainly with you.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Isn't it a lovely thing, City Girl? And thanks for the well wishes.

No, Luisa, I LOVE getting prayers - and I'm not really secular. It's more when I'm trying to send love to a secular friend or when religions get mixed and I'm not sure "my" prayers are the right prayers... does that make sense? The offensive thing from that cousin was that our prayers weren't considered to be useful at all because they weren't seen from her lens.

Maryann said...

It's the intent of the giver, isn't it, after all? Prayers, good thoughts, my heart..they are all with you. The person who thought your prayers were not good enough was ungrateful and ignorant, in my opinion.Small minded to say the least.
I do not sensor my feelings to others. I send off my good intentions and take for granted that they will accept them in good faith.
Good post :)

Ben said...

I loved this post. Implying that your feelings for someone else are not good enough because it is not on the form of a "prayer" of doesn't come from a "good Christian" is BS. Before religious brothers and sisters we are flesh brothers and sisters for being part of the same species, and that should be more important than anything else.

My heart is you my friend :)

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Thanks, Maryann, and again, I so loved the mopine post - I always feel such love in your family posts.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Thanks so much, Ben - we cross-posted here. I agree, and I guess what I was trying to say is that yes, indeed, it's what the recipient sends that's the important point, but in our global society, things can be misconstrued, which is why sometimes leaving prayer out of it might be easier. OTOH, I agree with Maryann, that we should never censor ourselves, and what we have to give lovingly is the important part.

Mariposa said...

Like Luisa here, I hope I have not confuse you in any way...I am so inclined with saying, my prayers are with you or holding you in my prayers...it could mean my heart is with you, which I think is quite more universal...

Yet, when I say you are in my prayers, I mean it...not for the recipient to interpret but just so the person knows she is in my thought when I am conversing with my Creator. :) She did not know how to pray or pray the same way I do...after all, it is my praying.

This is an interesting post...thanks!

And yes, my heart is with you!

Heather said...

94? Damn, he already lived a few lifetimes. Getting cancer when you're already almost 100 is kind of insulting, but I'd say he did something right.

It's always sad to lose loved ones, but as a secular person, I find more comfort in knowing that my friends and family are here for me than that God is. "I'm here for you" is enough.

April said...

I'm totally going to steal that and use it, as I think you know my own stance on organized religion.
My heart is with you, Jen.

Dingo said...

I usually tell the person that I'm thinking of them or that I'll keep them in my heart. I like "My heart is with you." I'm going to borrow that from you, if you don't mind.

Alex Elliot said...

I'm going to start using that! I always say my thoughts are with you as I'm not very religious. However, if it's someone I know who is very religious I will say "prayers" just because I know that to those particular friends, prayers are very important.

Goofball said...

Oh I sometimes don't know how or what to say. Sometimes I want to tell someone that I'll pray for them because I will , but I'm not sure if it'll be appreciated or valued.

Or sometimes (on eg blogs of obvious very religious people) I feel I ought to give some religious comment.

It's sometimes hard to say the best thing while truly all you do want to share is "you are in my heart". I must remember this!

glamah16 said...

Hey! Welcome back. I see you leftsome comments and you are back. I know what you mean. I guess all we can do send good positive thoughts and just be there for everyone no matter what heir beliefs are. I think we know when to tailor our sentiments and hopefully not offend . I have been where your are twice and as I always say, take cae of yourself too, because thte caregiver gets the brunt of it and the stress can manifest itself as an illness .

anno said...

Leave it to you to find the perfect words. Thanks for posting this, Jen.

hotmamamia said...

PERFECT...I never say that I'll pray for someone because I don't pray....I think about them and hope that things go better for them, that nature gives them a break...that they can find comfort in knowing that others care....my HEART is with you is PERFECT!

Jane said...

You have voiced a dilemma that many of us have faced: how do you let someone know that you care about them and feel for them without saying the wrong thing? You put it beautifully, I thought. And yes, "my heart is with you" says it all, doesn't it? I will remember those words the next time someone needs the human touch.

VictoriaArt said...

It is the warmhearted meaning in all things given to us freely... Prayers, karma, my thoughts, my heart, I love that. I am secular, but don't mind given prayers....
It is, what we take out from it, what gives it deeper sense.
There should be nothing not good enough to be received gracefully!

Brittany Noel said...

I have often thought about this kind of issue. Being completely secular, and having been raised that way, it's kind of odd for me when someone says they'll pray for me, because I don't pray. But it still means the world to me, even when I'm not on the same level, religiously. I think "my heart is with you" is a beautiful way to tell someone you're thinking of them and there for them. And I totally would've been offended that my thoughts wouldn't have been good enough for that cousin. Any good thoughts, prayers or not, are needed badly in this world and I see them as a precious commodity.

Virtualsprite said...

Welcome back!

I try to accept these things in the spirit they're given, but I know it's hard to accept prayers sometimes.

I like your compromise.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Mariposa - I agree that it's all in the heart of the giver. And it's true - it's YOUR prayers and your relationship with your God. It's more along the lines of "how do you give if you DON'T pray?" But I think heartfelt is all that matters.

Heather - excellent point. And again, the main thing is to give comfort to folks who need it, no matter what their religious background or beliefs.

April, you were actually someone I was thinking of in writing this post. ;-) I was really impressed by my friend's phrase - I did think it was perfect. No need for stealing - I think she'd give it freely. ;-)

Dingo, you're actually borrowing it from my friend Audrey, but I'm sure she'd say go right ahead.

Alex, I think you face a dilemma that many of us do, especially since in our contemporary American society many of us are expected to wear our "religion" on our sleeve. Again, this concerns those of us who are more secular, primarily, but it's ironic to me that our country, founded on religious freedom, now has so many instances of cultural peer pressure in terms of our religious views.

Goofball, I think you nailed it entirely - what do we say to different people?

Glamah, I know you and I have sadly had some similar paths in those areas. Thanks for the thoughts and concern, and yes, I'm taking things slowly right now.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Anno - thanks so much for YOUR kind words. ;-)

Hotmama - those are my thoughts exactly. I was really struck by my friend's wisdom on this.

Jane, thanks so much for stopping by - again, it was my friend's wisdom on this, but I agree, it solved a dilemma that I've been toying with for a while.

Oh, Victoria, I couldn't agree with you more - I think warmth and love freely given is such a precious gift, no matter what form it takes. And thanks for stopping by!

Brittany, I couldn't have said it better myself!

Virtual, I'm always happy for prayers - it's more how to give comfort to those who might not be comfortable with prayer or to those whom I can't really pray for in the ways that might help them. Does that make any sense?

Betsy said...

This gave me chills, Jen! It was beautiful, and I really enjoyed the sentiment!

Becca said...

I agree, that's a lovely sentiment, and one appropriate to everyone. I have also told people that I'm "holding them in my heart," because sometimes that's how it feels to me when I carry concern for my friends and their burdens.

And I'm holding you there now, as you settle into this new life with your mom.

painted maypole said...

"my heart is with you" is a lovely phrase, indeed.

I wrote a whole post about saying "I'll pray for you" nearly a year ago (april 17, in fact)

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Betsy, thanks so much for the kind words!

Becca, that's a wonderful way to put it, too.

PM, I will definitely go check your post.

Leslie said...

Oh, Jen. Thanks for this! My heart is with you is perfect. I'm using it!

Momisodes said...

I have missed you so much. I loved what you've addressed in this post. I also try and say 'my thoughts are with you,' but I LOVE 'my heart is with you.'

I'm sorry to hear things are challenging on your end at the moment. My father has battled rheumatoid arthritis for over a decade now. It is certainly tough. *hugs*

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Leslie and Momisodes - so good to see both of you!

Momisodes - thanks for the kind words - they're not sure if I have RA or something similar, but it's not fun.;-( I guess I'm one of the lucky ones because I'm not on meds yet (my choice) but I do have daily pain, which is a drag.

La Delirante said...

Yes, I never know what to say especially to secular people like me :) but it's the thought that counts. I love the phrase "My heart is with you". When it comes from the heart it is very easy to feel the connection with the person who is saying it.

Glad you're back :)

Jerseygirl89 said...

That is beautiful. Not being traditionally Christian, I've always felt weird about the prayers thing. I am going to use this next time, I hope you (and your friend) don't mind.

Núria said...

A fantastic post Jen!!! My heart, thoughts and smile is with you too! Always look at the bright side dear :D.

Life can be really tough... I'm one of the lucky ones... up to date!

Smuack♥

23mkr said...

Jen - WOW, wonderfully put. So true that in these times it does seem many are needing prayers, hearts, and positive thoughts. So thank you for expressing a way we can share our desire to keep those around us comforted, without offending! Take good care of yourself and your family, M

Jamie said...

Absolutely! My good friend is now caring for her very ill husband who doesn't have much time left, though he was lucky enough to see the birth of his second grandchild last week. My own brother is very ill with ALS and it is so painful to watch someome you love wither away. But it does remind us all how tentative life is and how we should live it to the fullest everyday, telling people how much we love them and how important they are to us.

Thank you for this post and reminding us.

Snooker said...

I love it! Thanks for that suggestion! Excellent post