Let the BS recede
Last week I had two prayer requests related to marriage. The first was from a middle-aged couple who said they wanted their marriage “to be a sacrament.” I could tell they were Catholic because in the Catholic Church, holy matrimony is considered a sacrament. In the Episcopal Church, it's considered a sacramental rite. The difference is a meaningful one, but not for the purposes of this blog post. Both sacraments and sacramental rites are understood to be outward signs of God’s grace in the lives of those who partake in them.
The sacramental nature of marriage is captured in the following prayer offered for a couple during their wedding: “Make their life together a sign of Christ’s love to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair.” So, that’s exactly what I prayed for this Catholic couple who had brought me one of the most inspiring prayer requests I’ve ever heard. Amen.
The second prayer request came from a woman whose son was getting married in less than two weeks. She was concerned about toxic family members who would be in attendance. People who had already stirred up drama to varying degrees.
Weddings have a way of creating friction. There often seems to be someone who acts out. Hopefully the drama, if any, comes up during the wedding planning process and ultimately blows over before the big day arrives, even if that means someone gets disinvited or refuses to come. Drama that occurs on the actual wedding day is ten times worse.
This is why the mother standing before me was a bit of a stress case. She was worried that her problematic family members would suck the celebratory nature out of the entire event. “All I want is for it to be a joyous occasion,” she said in a tone that implied a follow-up question: Is that too much to ask?!
No, it wasn't. I prayed for shields of protection to surround her and the happy couple so that nothing would detract from their joy. When I reached the end of the prayer and made the sign of the cross, I diverted from my normal language of blessing. Instead, I said, “And let the bullshit recede in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” In that moment, she closed her eyes, exhaled, and let her shoulders drop. “Thank you. I needed that,” she said, and then rushed off to work.
I’d never used the word "bullshit" in a prayer before. It felt surprising and scandalous, but also perfect for the situation. I wondered if the couple I’d prayed with just a few minutes earlier would approve. Maybe so given their divine regard for marriage. Nothing should encroach upon the holiness of a wedding, especially base things like unnecessary drama (i.e., bullshit).
We all have BS in our lives – things that keep us from focusing on our true purpose and attending to what (and who) matters to us most. I've found through this ministry that my true purpose is to share the good news of God's love, and there's plenty of BS that gets in the way of that.
Sometimes the BS is unavoidable. Sometimes it's of my own making. Most of the time I can take steps to minimize it – or at least minimize the emotional space it takes up. Prayer is good for that.
So may the BS recede for all of us. Let it recede like the ocean tide. So much so that maybe, one day, our very lives become a sign of Christ’s love to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair.