The prayer of “ventilation”

Long ago, my mother taught me about the prayer of “ventilation.” I had a little ventilation session with the Lord last night.

This morning I am taking the commuter into the city to spend the day with Jeremy, our son who is at Rush University Hospital. Last night, in the middle of the nighttime hours, I asked God to give me the strength and tenacity to advocate for Jer and not to be overwhelmed by the hospital medical extravaganza or the frail condition of my 41-year old child. (Those of you who have endured a long, seeming unending hospital stay will understand what I mean.) My good intentions often collapse when going for the words doctors are not saying. Politeness is not necessarily an advantage when grilling shift change nurses; sometimes pertinent information gets lost in the passing along of patient care duties.

In fact, on the last visit, David had a tachycardia spell (rapid heartbeat forecasted by cold sweats and feeling faint), a condition we thought was under control. In no time, after stretching out on a couch in the waiting room, five nurses (count them) had rolled a heart monitor, called the ER, ordered a chair to take him down, and were ready to paste him up to additional devices to send him along with a complete reading. His heart was pacing off at 188 beats per minute! But as usually happens, by the time every one had gathered in concern, his revving system was already cooling down. The visitor in the room who was about David’s age shouted, “Hey! How do I get in on this kind of attention?” Needless to say, David has been assigned other duties in our family crises; these hospital visits are not for the fainthearted.

Actually, what happened in the middle of last night was that I became angry—really angry and basically told God off. The diatribe went something like this: All right, Big Guy, I’m tired of being your press agent. You’ve said that you keep your promises. You’ve said that you are the Healer. You’ve spoken to my heart that Jer will live. You’ve said that those who put their trust in you will be rewarded. And yet, we have hardly had any good news in this long, almost six month journey through cancer. I have no problem broadcasting about your wondrous mercies WHEN WE SEE YOUR WONDROUS MERCIES! But where are they? Just exactly where are they?

This harangue went on and on. And I am not ashamed to admit it. Through the years—seven decades—I’ve learned that God is big enough to absorb my anger. Through the years, I’ve learned that He who knows everything knows about my deep down hidden rage and angst regarding this freakish disease fandango. Through the days of my life, I’ve come to understand that He won’t move, however He decides He will move, until I get real with Him.

Truth is, if I were God, I’d assign the killing diseases to the cads of the earth, to the deadbeat fathers who are not really interested in their children. I’d make sure that the alcoholics, the, beaters, the abusers all came down with blastic mantle cell lymphoma as a means of purifying the genetic pool.

I would not allow the good fathers (few enough of them as it is), those who take piano lessons with their daughters, who speak only Spanish so their children will grow up bilingual, who delight in planning birthday parties, who are passionate about the plight of the wretched of the earth, who read three books every night, who have established a bedtime ritual that includes prayers and putting money in a bank for the poor, will be able to explain the ruling dynasties of China, who carry on delightfully funny conversations with grandmothers (me) while their daughter takes Karate classes the only blonde child in the class) to come down with an incurable cancer.

My anger fits under the category penned by the psalmist, “In the evening, in the morning and at noonday, I will complain and lament and he will hear my voice.” Psalm 67:2.
I’m on the train, writing this, and I am still really angry.

I think God has answered my midnight prayer. Pray that I’ll stay angry all through this hospital visit. Pray that when tenderness makes me weak, I’ll draw on this angry determination.

~~ Karen Mains

One thought on “The prayer of “ventilation”

  1. Roberta

    Karen, thank you for your bold, raw honesty! This is my first visit to the website/blog, though Jeremy has been in my prayers…as have you all. I went through a long haul for my daughter-in-law from April through June, most of it in an ICU and almost losing her in April. Outcomes CAN be good, in spite of all the difficulty of the journey. I hold the High Watch for Jeremy and you all.
    God bless you,


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