Upside Down Prayers
A couple of months ago, I wrote about “hyper-fixation,” and how the enemy uses it to distract us from all of the good God is doing in our lives so we feel discouraged and frustrated about the one thing He (seemingly) isn’t doing. In the time since, I’ve had quite a few conversations with friends on this topic, so I thought I would dive in, and tell you the *real, untold* story of how The SundayMonday began.
It was April of 2020, just about a month into the COVID disaster. The world felt shakey and upside down. It was my 25th birthday, and I woke up early to go for a walk through Rock Creek Park in DC, my favorite place to think and read and just be. I sat down beside my favorite little tree… and just sobbed. I was overwhelmed by what was going on, by the masks and the rules and the change. My friends were getting laid off and I had no idea how secure my own job was or wasn’t. And, to top it all off, I was another year older and God still hadn’t answered one of the deepest, achiest desires of my heart: to get married and start a family. Looking back now, I was so young (and still am?) but there was a real pain in that moment.*
And so, as I cried under that tree and watched the stream go by, I felt a little tug to reconsider the language of my prayer. For years, I had been praying, “God, bring me a husband. Please. Bring him to me right now, I’m ready, let’s go!” It was an honest prayer – direct, firm, and hopeful. But there was something missing in it. I took out my journal and wrote a new prayer: “God, I have so much love in my heart and such a desire to give it away. I believe You’re calling me to do that in marriage, but since I’m not married and don’t have a family of my own right now, please show me how You want me to love and live and follow You right now.”
A moment later, I received a response in a way I have rarely ever received in my life. I felt the Lord nudge my heart to start a professional community and build resources for working women of faith. I noodled on it for a minute, then responded, “Okay, but I don’t want a fluffy flowery name, I want something good and sophisticated and catchy. If you bring me a name I’m in.”
A photo from that exact day!! April 21, 2020. Me, my stream, and the Psalms. David is a good friend in times of crisis 🙂
Two days later, on a rosary walk around my neighborhood, “The SundayMonday” came to me – helping all of us bring our faith from Sunday into our work week on Monday. Over the next month, I built the website, planned the newsletter, recruited authors, and felt more alive doing that than anything I’d ever done before. I felt completely, wholly me. God didn’t answer my prayer for a husband that month, but He gave me something beautiful: a mission, a project to partner with Him and serve Him in obedience.
I think about this whenever I find myself fixating on something I want or think I need. I pray that upside-down prayer: “God, what are You asking me to do right here, right now?” It quickly releases my frustration and gives me peace and hope and joy because I know that He will show me the next step forward. I still bring my petitions and desires to Him. He’s a good father, and He gives us everything we need, exactly when we need it. We can trust Him. If He’s not answering a certain prayer right now, we can trust that it’s for our good.
A story I think about often is one that St. Augustine shares in Confessions. His mother, (now Saint) Monica, had spent her whole life trying to bring her hedonistic son to the faith. One day, she is distraught about him leaving for Rome, thinking that once he leaves, she will lose all power to push for his conversion. She prays and prays that God will stop him from leaving. But late one night, he sneaks out and gets on a boat for Rome. Monica is devastated – she thinks all hope is lost. But when Augustine arrives in Rome, he meets Bishop Ambrose, who is a catalyst for Augustine’s eventual conversion and role as a bishop. As Augustine so beautifully puts it:
“You see further than I will ever be able to see. I trust in that. You saw deeper and granted her the essential part of her prayer. You did not do what she was at that moment asking, that you might do the thing she was always asking.”
Let us trust that God always sees further than we are able to see. That His “no” right now is actually a “yes” to something better. How can you pray the upside-down prayer today? Is there a specific place where the Lord is asking you to let go and trust Him?
*And there still is sometimes, set me up with your handsome Catholic friends, please!! 😉
What we’re loving lately:
- I love Josef Pieper, a philosopher who lived and wrote just 50 years ago! This book has been on my list for a long time, and I couldn’t think of a better time to read it than right now, in my season of “leisure.” I love his strong stance on leisure, that unless we recover the ability to be silent, to contemplate, and to gain insight through receptivity and openness to truth, we will destroy our culture and ourselves. It’s a little heady but very good!
- This video from NYU Stern Professor Scott Galloway has been at the top of my mind since I first saw it a few weeks ago. He says “The amount of time you spend at home is inversely correlated with your success professionally and romantically.” Go sit in a park, work in a coffee shop, go for a walk – it’s in this way that we can form and strengthen relationships and feel more connected (I’m taking the advice, as I’m sitting in Peet’s coffee writing this right now). One of my good friends met her husband at a public pool in DC! Unplanned conversations with strangers boost our mood and increase our confidence. He writes more about it here.
Words I’m noodling on:
- “What now? is not just a panic-stricken question tossed into a dark unknown. What now? can also be our joy. It is a declaration of possibility, of promise, of chance. It acknowledges that our future is open, that we may well do more than anyone expected of us, that at every point in our development, we are still striving to grow.” – Ann Patchett
- This is such a great reflection on how to change jobs well and also touches on one of my favorite life lessons: your happiness at work depends on your happiness outside of work. The more joy you find in your outside-of-work life, the less pressure you put on your job to be your joy and purpose. Give it a read!
- Prayers for sweet baby Natalie who was born last week, and her mama!
- Prayers for a special intention
If you or a loved one need prayers, just reply to this email or reach out and I’ll include them in next week’s newsletter!
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Jane was born in Australia, raised in California, and is overjoyed to now call NYC home. She graduated from UCSB with degrees in Political Science and Communication and spent the past two years working in criminal justice reform. She is currently an MBA student at NYU Stern, focusing on entrepreneurship and strategy.