The Jesus Prayer: The only thing keeping me from cursing everyone out

The past day or so, I have been leaning HEAVY on the Jesus Prayer.  It has a nice rhythm to it, and since my mantra, if I’m not careful, is “fucky fuck fuckity fuck fuck FUCKing shit”, the Jesus Prayer is a nice second option.  You know, when I don’t want to have to start questioning whether or not I have Tourette’s.   So, what’s been making me so angsty?  Well, wouldn’t you like to know.  I’m not about to break Blog Commandment #1: Thou Shalt Not Blog About Work.  Let’s just say: It’s about work.  Dang it!  I broke the first commandment.  Back to the Jesus Prayer.

Really, I’m not hiding any specifics from you.  Nothing has *happened* at work to make me all kinds of pissed, I haven’t been wronged or anything like that.  Things are just changing AGAIN, and I need to re-work my tenuously held work-family-finance-health balance.  Last night, after a 12-hour work day, Joel and I sat and looked at our options.  3 out of 4 seemed possibly do-able to me, and Joel cynically added a 5th: “Jesus could come back in all his glory and save us from having to deal with this”.  Unlikely.  Still, we were able to sleep without horrible debilitating nightmares, knowing we had a couple of choices.

In the cold hard light of day, all of those options seem insane to me, totally implausible.  My only recourse is The Jesus Prayer, which, if you want to give it a shot, goes like this: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.  Or, as it goes in my head while I’m pounding the pavement of San Francisco, Lord-Jesus-CHRIST, Son-of-GOD, have-MERCY-on-me-a-sinner.  Over and over, in a staccato rhythm that is keeping me from going insane.  The Jesus Prayer is problematic — it’s Patriarchal, it’s sin-based, it’s simplistic.  And I NEED it.  I have found myself returning to it over the past decade, no matter where I am in my journey of faith — it has a hold on me that I know is mystical and deeper than my comprehension.  I don’t know if anyone else has ever used it in order to not become a pile of cursing madness, but I’m pretty sure Jesus is okay with it.

Another thing that has been very helpful this week has been reading about other people who are in the same situation I am: folks who have done everything “right”: went to school, found work, followed our dreams in some way/shape/form, and are now totally unable to pay for our lives, specifically, the debt incurred doing the former.  We invested in ourselves, and it turned out that the jobs we could get after such an investment don’t even pay for the education we received, never mind allow us to create a sustainable life for our families.  There have been a lot of articles and websites about this recently, but here are two of my favorites:

Ezra Klein’s Washington Post article on the 99 percent

Favorite quote: “These are not rants against the system. They’re not anarchist manifestos. They’re not calls for a revolution. They’re small stories of people who played by the rules, did what they were told, and now have nothing to show for it. Or, worse, they have tens of thousands in debt to show for it.”

JD Samson’s article on trying to be an artist in this economy

Favorite quote, from when JD was turned down for several apartments by a landlord: “Yeah, I don’t blame him.  He doesn’t give a shit about how kids email me all the time thanking me for keeping them from committing suicide. It’s not part of his capitalist business practice. ”

So, I’m finding hope where I can, clinging to the awesome things like waking up to my baby smiling at me and kissing me, and how she said “Amen” at the end of Morning Prayer today.  I’m feeling an awful lot like this butterfly, struggling to fly despite the rock she’s attached to.  Or maybe, I’m the rock, and The Jesus Prayer is the butterfly, trying to get me to move, change, transform — to go from someone who drops the F-bomb over things like getting caught in a rainstorm to someone who finds beauty in the baptism of the rain.

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6 thoughts on “The Jesus Prayer: The only thing keeping me from cursing everyone out

  1. rhea. you are not alone in this struggle at all. there are so many of us with human focused minds and professions- teachers, academics, social workers, therapists, caregivers… all with lots of higher education that for some reason our human focused professions can barely pay for. It is astonishing. sometimes i blame it on Tony Campollo and Eastern U for guilt tripping me into a wanting to live a life guided by faith, reason, and justice (they neglected to add- little paychecks to that trinitarian list!!!) … and other times I am grateful to work in a profession that pulls me out of bed every morning and constantly challenges my every move. It really sucks- and trying to create a family in the midst of it all makes it even more challenging doesn’t it?!?!

    I love that you wrote about the Jesus prayer. We all need it.

  2. I so get the struggle Rhea. I am in it at the moment and it is not pleasant. Having to borrow money again to pay for this work that i love but am hardly paid for. Its such an injustice that people-focused, life-bringing, compassionate work is paid nada. I bet Jesus thinks this isn’t quite right.
    Nevertheless there is beauty in ashes, manure breeds life and I know joy is possible despite it all.
    Olive’s ‘Amen’ summed that up for me.

  3. Thank you all so much for these encouraging comments. I felt really vulnerable writing this post, and it means so much to have you all giving me such supportive feedback!

  4. I’ll have to try that prayer. Sorry your work/ financial situation is rough right now. Just keep looking at that adorable baby and finding beauty in all the little moments…you ARE doing all the right things!

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