It’s a big day at the Arndt house. Today is the day our daughter ER auditions for McCallum High School Fine Arts Academy’s Cinematic Arts program. It’s a mouthful because let me tell you, the audition itself is a big darned deal.
The first thing that popped into my head when I woke up this morning was that I wanted to reach out on Facebook and ask for a collective group hug to support ER. I started typing the standard, “Asking for prayers,” and then I erased it, because it seems a little weird for me to ask for prayers for a high school audition. I typed, “Needing good vibes today,” then I erased it because I didn’t want a deluge of text messages asking what happened to my personal policy of not “vague-booking.” When you’re the parent of a 13 year-old girl, you don’t want to draw unnecessary attention to that girl because when she finds out you drew attention to her, you get the standard head thrown back with a coordinated eye roll followed by, “MOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!”
For some time now, I’ve been contemplating prayer requests on Facebook. I find them fascinating for a number of reasons. First off, my personal relationship with prayer is weird. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve talked to God like I’m talking to a cross between a very close friend and a high school principal. I am fairly casual about it, and I don’t feel like I’m “lifting” anything up when I pray. I honestly don’t really understand that phrase, as it makes me think of CrossFit. For me, prayer is just a little conversation where sometimes I ask for a massive favor. I tend not to spend prayer time asking for the little things, mainly because I think God is kind of busy trying to manage stopping famine, screaming, “Climate change IS real!” and designing the faces of Beyonce and Jay-Z’s twins, so asking for an easy commute on a Tuesday morning seems a little insignificant to me.
For me, I believe that the power of collective positive thought, whether you call it prayer or you refer to it as “good vibes” or “love and light,” is all about setting intentional thought to a person who needs it. I loved it the other day when a woman I know posted, “I’m not usually one to do this but I need you to pray. Right now.” And of course because I’m nosy and want specifics, I scrolled through the comments for hopes of a clue. What were we praying about? She explained it in the best way, “Yeah, I mean I care deeply and I am involved, but it’s not my news or my business to put it on the internet you know? But how else am I going to reach a lot of people to ask them for their prayers if not on Facebook?”
And that’s it! We crowdsource for so many things – who has recommendations for good restaurants in Brooklyn? Who’s the best dentist in North Austin? Why wouldn’t we tap into our vast resource of dear friends, family, distant cousins, and Raj, the guy you met at a wedding three years ago? You ask them because this collection of people are the people who will pray for you when you ask. It’s actually a beautiful thing.
Because I’m weird that way, I tend to rate Facebook prayer requests on a scale of importance, and I get right to the ones that are at the top of the list because they are urgent. It goes something like this:
- Deathbed prayers – Someone is about to leave us and you’re in need of comfort. I find this is a popular time for prayer emoji hands (or, high fives, as my daughter noted the other day. She informed me that many people are actually using the high five emoji as a prayer emoji. I’m pretty sure God doesn’t care one way or the other, so no worries here.)
- Someone just died, and you’re in need of comfort – When this happens I find myself reading all of the responses because they are so very lovely. Facebook is such a public forum to share personal news, but reading the comments can really show you how much a person is loved.
- Someone is very ill, you don’t want them to die, and you’re in need of comfort. Again, lift up those prayer emojis, because duh.
- All things pet-related. I understand that some of you are screaming, “My fur babies should be at the top of the list!” I get it. This is just my personal list. Your “fur baby” is just as important as someone else’s “little man” and now I have to stop to gag for a second because both of those phrases make my skin crawl.
After that, it gets a little gray to me when it comes to priorities. Perhaps you’re asking for a prayer because you’re hoping to land a job. I’m fairly certain that’s the #1 biggest use of vague-booking is an upcoming job interview because you can’t disclose you’re looking for a new job. That’s a smart and logical decision. But still, when you post, “Prayers needed,” we’re all wondering – WHAT IS IT? So please give us a follow-up a few days later because some of us are very much on the edge of our seats about it.
Maybe you’re needing prayers because you’re going home for the holiday and your entire family voted for Trump and you need to stop yourself from throwing plates. Maybe you need prayers because you need to leave a toxic relationship. Perhaps you’re going in for your first bikini wax and you’re feeling a little trepidation. Whatever is important to you, asking for guidance on social media is a personal choice, and the people who support you there will show up and do the work, even if the work is just to type one simple word: “Done.” It’s good stuff.
Last year when I was applying for the job I have now, the interview process was really rigorous and I put all of my eggs in one basket because it was the only job I wanted. I wouldn’t recommend that strategy because I don’t really like eggs, and thus far in life, I’ve never put an egg in a basket. Anyway, applying for one job when you really need a job is a little insane. After numerous phone interviews, a face-to-face interview, and a standardized test that I still can’t talk about without going on a hour-long tangent about how against it I am (we’ll save that for a later date), I had to do a live presentation on a web-sharing application on the benefits of our product. Pretty standard stuff, but pile that on top of all of the other things you had to do during the interview process, and I was a bit of a wreck. I stayed up all night perfecting timing, anticipating pushback, and fighting back the urge to order case of wine and three packs of brownie bites on InstaCart.
Really needing prayers, but not wanting to put it out there that I was interviewing for one job and one job only because I was fearful of jinxing things, instead of asking for prayers on Facebook, I gathered up the piles of things I use in life when I’m superstitious and made a creepy little shrine on my desk. Here you have Dino, the squishy dinosaur who accompanies me everywhere (Follow him! @dinofromaustin on Instagram), Pigeon Girl (a pheasant who we falsely labeled as a pigeon that has some superhero qualities), my Ladybird Johnson “Can Do” sign I display on my desk, a rosary wheel, my lucky number 17, and yes, some holy water. I use the holy water on sick kids, and dab some on my wrists when I’m feeling a little sinful. Okay, I don’t really dab holy water on my wrists but I totally use it when kids are sick because I am convinced it works.
Prayer is so very personal, because not everybody is right with Jesus or needs to be because they might be Jewish or Muslim or even Atheist and that is very, very okay. I have a close girlfriend who pops into Catholic churches to pray to Mary (Mary speaks to her, Jesus doesn’t and that’s also okay), has many Buddhist beliefs, and is also part Wiccan. And it works for her and I don’t judge that. Her version of prayer is different from mine. She doesn’t necessarily need Pigeon Girl.
So, back to my daughter. She has been putting in the hard work. She’s made a really impressive audition film that brings me to tears because she took a vision and made it happen and the end result is lovely. Her essay explains her vision beautifully, and Tim and I are so proud of everything she has done to prepare for today.
Because ER is prepared and she did her best work, perhaps she doesn’t need prayers lifted. Perhaps she doesn’t need me to dab holy water on her head. But you know what? I’m going to ask anyway, because whether you’re my mom and you pray for us daily and we feel that energy, or you’re the fabulous writer and comedian that I just met at a blogging conference and I’m giddy that we’re now Facebook friends, if you feel like praying or chanting or just sending out “love and light,” please send it our way. ER won’t know I’ve asked, but every bit of positivity helps, and next time you ask for prayers on Facebook, I’ll happily return the favor.