By Jess Upshaw Glass

Dear Lord,

Last night, around two in the morning, I woke up to pee, galvanized by the pressure of the five-month-old fetus swimming inside me. When I returned from the hallway’s gloom to the sweet powder-scented sanctuary of my bed, I remembered I hadn’t thought to pray that day, not even once.

So I prayed: Dear Lord, thank you for – for – Yeshuprada? – and here my brain rifled through the remains of the day to furnish the name of the Indian man I had heard speak that evening, a passionate visionary of a man who loved the gospel more than anyone I have ever met, and I knew it because of the way he has poured out Your love onto the peoples of more than 30 countries where he has visited and taught and started missions – ah yes, Yesupadam was his name, “the foot of Jesus,” Brother Yesupadam, an untouchable boy once left to die on a street in Srikakulam, India, now the president of an international ministry. So I prayed: Dear Lord, thank you for Yesupadam and how much he loves Your children.

And then I fell asleep.

You already know all of this.

I’m confessing this to You because I am ashamed. I am ashamed of how easily I let my head sink into the feathers of my pillow, how effortlessly I was drawn into the still waters of sleep. I am ashamed of my own humanity. It is a whirlpool from which it seems I cannot escape.

Yesupadam exhorted us to view the temporal in light of eternity. Many people have deceived in the names of God, church, and the Bible. But the mark of a genuine encounter with the gospel is a life transformed. Yesupadam had only his own life to spread before us with open hands: an untouchable, a former Communist leader, a murderer. A forgiven son of God.

My life looks so different from his.

I don’t feed the indigent, clothe and shelter orphans, teach the disabled, care for the sick or save the dying. I don’t travel the world to spread the love of God. I clothe myself. I feed my two-year-old son. I care for my husband. I fold inward around the child growing inside me. I fall asleep without praying for anyone at all. The circumference of my love is very small.

Furthermore, I don’t particularly want to do any of those things. I don’t want to be Yesupadam. And I wouldn’t have wanted to be Jesus. I like my small, selfish life. This, it seems to me, is where I am found wanting.

Not that I shouldn’t like my life. Not that I shouldn’t care for my family, my own small, domestic mission field. But I am lacking a singleness of purpose that could save the world. People are literally dying to be loved. And I thoughtlessly fall asleep each night on a feather pillow.

It is an old feather pillow, though. A hand-me-down. Stained and threadbare.

And our house, Lord, our house that we cannot sell and can no longer afford, teeters on the edge of foreclosure.

And we have only just moved half a continent away from our friends and family.

And I am so tired, Lord. I am so very tired.

Please forgive me.

I wonder how many nights I will apologize for yet again forgetting the only thing that truly matters, and I wonder how many times You will forgive me. Does this sad game weary You the way it wearies me? I wonder how Yesupadam prays. I wonder if he ever stops praying.

When I was younger, when I used to rise early in the morning to read my Bible and pray, I endeavored to make a list of every person I had ever known, and each day of the week I would pray for a portion of the people on my list. Another, much shorter, list comprised people for whom I prayed every day. I don’t know what happened to those loving lists, nor do I know exactly what happened to that girl, who told You she loved You, and truly and deeply meant it.

If You had wanted me to be a better person, perhaps You should have made me a better person.

Tonight I will pray, and I will try to remember that the praying matters, but the doing matters more. And when I rise, I will fight my way to the surface, and I will try, I will try, to stay afloat.



6 Responses to “Dear Lord (A Lament)”

  1. […] 6S Review, Requited Journal, and PANK Magazine.  She blogs at Read “Dear Lord (A Lament).” GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  2. […] in my last post, I have two things to mention. Firstly, I have a short nonfiction piece up at Liturgial Credo, where I also contribute my talents, such as they are, as fiction editor. Check it […]

  3. This is fantastic and frighteningly parallel to many of my own prayers.

  4. thesobie Says:

    Wow, Jess. I think you have just expressed the hearts of thousands (or at least one other: me) with this.

  5. Jess Says:

    Thanks, fellas.

  6. Lyndsey Says:

    I think if you were shooting for honest, simple and profound, you achieved it. I sincerely hope we can do more than simply “stay afloat,” though it does seem that’s all I can do, sometimes.

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