[AREWP stands for “A Reckless Experiment With Prayer.” This is part of an ongoing series about bringing peace to my daily life. You can read the other posts on this subject here (scroll down).]
This morning I looked at my calendar and realized that a childhood friend is going to be in town today, and she’s swinging by this afternoon for a visit. I bit my lip a little bit when I realized: she’ll be here for Vespers (Evening Prayer). My husband won’t be home yet, so it will be just she and I and the kids.
For a moment I went into a frantic “What do I do?!” mode. We’ve been friends since we were eight years old. In recent years we lost touch but are now rekindling our friendship since she’ll be in my area more often for the next couple of years. She has always been a deeply spiritual person but is not religious and doesn’t believe in organized religion. Last time she checked, I felt the same way (except that I wasn’t spiritual…in fact I was kind of a militant atheist). Let’s just say that sitting around and listening to me read psalms and Bible verses aloud for 15 minutes is not what she is expecting to do when she comes over.
People who are the #4 Google result for socially awkward person do not handle situations like this well.
As I was fretting about whether to postpone Vespers, to just start the experiment tomorrow, to violate the first rule I committed to and do it hours earlier before she arrives, a thought popped into mind out of nowhere:
This is where spoken priorities become actual priorities.
I don’t know where that came from, but it’s true. Priorities don’t become priorities by talking about them. They become true priorities by inconveniencing yourself to make them happen. Even if it means that you might look odd or foolish in the eyes of a childhood friend whose opinion you dearly value.
— UPDATE —
When my friend arrived we were both exhausted from long days. It’s been so long since we last had a chance to really talk, our conversation was a bit stiff at first. After some hemming and hawing, I finally laid it out. Not knowing where to start, I decided to just be completely honest and tell her why saying these prayers were important to me, and let her know that I was worried about her reaction because she was such a dear friend and I valued her opinion so much.
As we walked around the house lighting candles, I told her a bit about my conversion and how much I appreciated her sharing her own spiritual beliefs with me back when I was an atheist. In the breaks between each reading I would tell her a bit more about the Liturgy of the Hours, and pointed out that thousands of other people in our time zone are reciting these exact prayers right now. She listened attentively throughout the 10 or 15 minutes it took to go through it all, and if she was bored or uninterested she sure hid it well.
Not only was it not weird, but it’s exactly what we needed.
Our conversation had been stiff before, but me sharing something so personal really broke the ice and helped us move past surface-level chit-chat to really delving into the topics that were most dear to us.
I am so, so glad I didn’t skip it. I will remember this lesson next time I’m tempted to push prayer aside for fear of what other people think.