“Gladden the soul of your servant…”

I don’t know if you have this same thing or not, but I have this constant dialogue with myself. I mean 24/7. I spend a lot of my time alone, and with no one around to talk to, I guess I have developed the habit of talking to myself. LOL. The problem? It does not stop. And I have found that I dread going to bed and I start to get agitated as I approach the evening’s preparations to go to sleep. The dog goes out, does her thing, and gets a little nighttime treat and we settle her into bed. The dishes are done and kitchen is clean; quite often the dishwasher is quietly whirring away. I check door locks and outside lights. I take my stomach meds and chew my Immunpro. And then there is nothing for it but to get into bed. As I sit there, I feverishly apply Lavender Essential Oil to my feet, temples, back of the neck, and brow. And I pray, begging for a quiet night’s sleep; a full night’s sleep.

My inner voice is a worry-wort. My anxiety grows and I get the same exact feeling each time, so I recognize it very quickly. I am working so very hard at silencing this voice at night. I get myself so worked up, I wake up in a complete sweat – head to toe. My hair looks like I haven’t washed it in weeks. It is insanity. Why do I listen? How do I make it stop? Why is my inner-self not at peace? I acknowledge and see the blessings in my life. I am loved by an amazing man, I have 3 incredible sons, and amazingly, I am overwhelmed with the love for my 6 grandchildren. I have a couple of friends I know I will have my entire life and I am a better woman because they call me friend. I have an amazing home I love. I look outside at the pouring rain and know Spring is about to show itself. The Lord is my God and I rejoice I found my Savior and I know He loves me. Why can I not silence this stress and worry-filled woman at night?

My sole comfort in this anxiety is the Jesus prayer. And when I run out of that mantra, I will start praying an Akathist to the Mother of God, or the Rosary. Whatever prayer I can recite without thinking about it, and just set my sights on God and His needs for these prayers. And I can usually get my heart-rate back down to normal, and my sweating will ease up. I will usually re-apply my Lavender and drift back off to sleep. Sometimes I am awake for hours; some nights it is just minutes. But I rarely sleep through until morning.

I was chatting with a friend at a fundraiser this weekend. She expressed to me how tired she is because she is woken up every night, and knows someone needs prayer. So she gets up and prays hard. Like she said, “This world is a mess and so many are hurting. We need to pray hard.” And I am thinking that I need to start this when my nights are disrupted. Get up, pray hard for people, and when I am drained, go back to bed. Instead of just laying there, stressed to the max, and exhausted, I will intentionally get up and pray for intentions.

And God, being the One of Infinite Wisdom, every year gives us Lent. And tomorrow I start my Lenten daily reading of the Psalms. Each year I join a Psalter group. This year, the organizer is now published! And what we have been doing is now in book form. I am so excited to start. The book is called, “Songs of Praise: A Psalter Devotional for Orthodox Women.” It is written by Sylvia Leontaritis. (You can get it through Ancient Faith Publishers). Don’t let the title fool you – it is not just for women who are Orthodox. Any Christian woman would be blessed by using this devotional, especially during Lent. The first year I participated, it rocked my world. I love reading the entire book of Psalms during Lent, and really pondering them. I journal in my Bible, and now I have this book to journal in, as well. And just thinking about it calms me. Lent calms me. It is my favorite time, liturgically, of the year. We have more services at Church, we get to pray these amazing prayers we use during Lent. (I actually pray them during the year, too, because I love them so much. I even carry a holy card with one of them on it). And I realized all the stress I have, I can lay at the Foot of the Cross, as we make this Lenten journey with Our Lord. And truly, the tension across my chest just lessened as I typed this. What a blessing Lent is. If you have never done any prep for Easter, start now. Devote yourself to reading the Psalms or the Proverbs for Lent. It will change your life. Promise. And start praying. Hard.

I am looking forward to praying St. Ephraim’s prayer. It makes me quieter and more humble. I once had it hanging on my desk, below the counter of a customer service job I had. I would read it as people approached me for help. It never let me down!

Some of the other prayers I just love are:

“O Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of truth, Who are in all places and fillest all things; Treasury of good things and Giver of life; Come and dwell in us and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O gracious Lord. Holy God, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us….(3 times). Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen…. All Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, cleanse us from all our sins. Master, pardon our inequities. Holy God, visit us and heal us from our infirmities for thy Name’s sake. Lord have mercy. (3 times)….

And so this year, I have pretty much cut myself off from social media. It has become such a barometer of my moods. And as I advised a young lady this weekend, about an ex-boyfriend showing up to an event, “Don’t let him have that power over your joy and your life. Do not let him steal another moment from you.” And that is my prayer in avoiding social media. I cannot let it control my life, or allow what is put out there determine my life. In the book, “Our Thoughts Determine our Lives” by Elder Thaddues of Vitovnica, he tells us:

“Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture.  If our thoughts are peaceful, calm, meek, and kind then that is what our life is like.  If our attention is turned to the circumstances in which we live, we are drawn into a whirlpool of thoughts and can have neither peace nor tranquility.”  He further shares that “everything, both good and evil, comes from our thoughts. Our thoughts become reality…when we labor in the fields of the Lord, we create harmony.  Divine harmony, peace, and quiet spread everywhere.”  He then tells us what the opposite things can do to us: “However, when we breed negative thoughts, that is a great evil.  Where there is evil in us, we radiate it among our family members and wherever we go.  So you see, we can be very good or very evil. If that’s the way it is, it is certainly better to choose good!  Destructive thoughts destroy the stillness within, and then we have no peace.” (Page 63).

And so we enter fully into Lent with a joyful heart, knowing the path we walk, the one we choose, leads us to Calvary, and the Cross. Which leads us to Salvation and conquers death. Sigh. It is such a blessing to be able to go over our lives, re-evaluating them like this once a year, and this year, Lent has come at the perfect time. God bless you! I pray all of us find this journey through Lent one of joyous reflection and anticipation.

“Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save Your servant, who trusts in you. You are my God; be gracious to me, O Lord, for to You I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. (Psalm 85)

Pray hard, my friends. Pray hard.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s