Walking in a Haunted Wonderland

I am very excited because this week I have a guest post to share with you! I have always valued the voices and perspectives of others and it feels like it makes sense to me to include those unique voices here. I asked my friend Allison to write a post this week because she is a gem, so without further ado, here she is!

Kaitlyn’s blog has got it going on!

Hi, my name is Allison, first-time blogger, long-time reader. You may know me as the girl Kaitlyn wrote a blog post about a few weeks ago (I consider this fact my biggest claim to fame – if you haven’t it yet, let this shameless plug be your incentive now). Kaitlyn invited me to write about spiritual wellness this week, which is a pretty daunting topic to try to cover. I’m very aware that I can’t speak for what spiritual wellness looks like for everyone, I can only reflect upon what spiritual wellness has looked like for me and hope that you resonate with it.

Lost in Wonderland

Three years ago on a chilly October evening, I wandered Canada’s Wonderland alone. I had signed up to go with a large group of students from my university residence at the time. As our group entered the park, I got separated from everyone I had arrived at the amusement park with, and ended up searching the park for familiar faces for close to an hour. Now, you likely know as well as I do that amusement parks are supposed to be a fun place to face fears and get your adrenaline pumping. However, since it was an October evening, Wonderland was holding Halloween Haunt – an evening complete with fog machines, ominous lighting, and screams echoing through the park – both from the rides and the haunted houses.

While this night only happened three years ago, in those 45 minutes I felt like a child lost in a supermarket. Getting lost in a familiar place is particularly frustrating because we tend to play the “should” game in situations where we feel we ought to have known better. Thoughts like “I’ve been here before, I should know where to go” echoed in my head as I walked around the entire park multiple times looking for anyone I knew. The park was over capacity, and with limited cell reception to contact anyone, I can’t lie – I was genuinely terrified.

I wasn’t lost forever though, if that wasn’t already obvious. When I finally found my friends, I was greeted with open arms and relieved faces. I ran over to the first friend I recognized, and was greeted with a hug so tight that a couple of tears were squeezed out of me. Once we were reunited I actually enjoyed myself and was able to forget about my time lost in the park, and focused on having fun.

“Allison, what does any of this have to do with spiritual wellness?”

I have thought a lot about all of the metaphors and analogies that relate back to feeling lost. In fact, I’m sure if I left this space open, you’d be able to come up with a bunch of examples in your own life when you’ve felt lost yourself, whether it’s physically or spiritually lost. When I look back on this story, I think about my relationship with God at that time, and how that relationship looked that night. When I was lost, I prayed a lot of “God, I’m scared and don’t know what to do, help me through this” prayers.

While there’s absolutely a time and a place for these prayers, in the context of this night, this was the first time I spoke to God that day. Honestly, it may have even been the first time that week I explicitly sought Him out. When I picture myself in that moment, I picture a frantic Allison hoping God will swoop in and fix the problem so I can get back to the way things should go. That night, I was able to find my friends, and my prayers of “help me, help me, help me” turned to praises of “thank you thank you thank you.” What happens when we miss that second part, something I know I so often struggle with?
As kids, we’re told to remember to say “please” and “thank you” to the people we interact with. Unfortunately, I think sometimes I forget to pay God that same courtesy.

Help, Thanks, Wow

In her book Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, author Anne Lammott highlights the importance three crucial types of prayer: prayers of help, prayers of thankfulness, and prayers of wonder.

“My belief is that when you’re telling the truth, you’re close to God…If you told me you had said to God, “It is all hopeless, and I don’t have a clue if You exist, but I could use a hand,” it would almost bring tears to my eyes, tears of pride in you, for the courage it takes to get real-really real.”

This courage to be open and honest all relates back to a word Kaitlyn loves on this blog: vulnerability. Being vulnerable with God can be just as challenging as it is being vulnerable with other people, but the outcome is worth it, especially when it comes through being vulnerable through prayer. Anne’s belief that honesty is the best policy when it comes to our conversations with God, I felt a lot better about my frantic pleas for comfort on that cold October night. I do want to keep reminding myself that those prayers of thankfulness, along with those prayers of wonder, are equally important too.

Standing God Up

The idea of praying “help, thanks, wow” also goes for praying on behalf of others, too. A few years ago, someone told me, “saying you’re going to pray for someone and not doing it is like making a date with God and standing Him up.” This stuck with me, and has challenged me every time I say “I’ll pray for you.” Before a few years ago, saying “I’ll pray for you” was an empty promise I would make. Once I heard that quote, though, I simply couldn’t stand God up again. This brings us back to the importance of the courtesy we show God in saying “please and thank you,” along with the courtesy of being honest with both God and the person you said you’d pray for.

My challenge for you this week is to keep that promise you’ve made and talk to God – whether it’s a cry for help, a thank you, or simply a “wow, God.” Oh, and look up a Brené Brown quote on your own time, since I didn’t manage to get your weekly dose of Brené into this blog post. Ah, well. Maybe next time.

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