CALL ME ISRAEL

JacobJacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak….Then he said, “Let me go….” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Genesis 32:24, 26-28

 

Jacob wrestled with “a man” on the banks of a river on his way back to Canaan. Various interpretations of this story portray the “man” as an angel, a prophetic vision, the Christ, or even God the Father. Jacob prevailed in this wrestling match, which seems unlikely to happen if the “man” were God. But prevail he does, and then this “man” asks Jacob his name. When Jacob tells him, the “man” tells Jacob his name is now to be “Israel” (which literally means “contends with God). Jacob then believes that he has “seen God face to face, and yet (his) life is preserved.”

 

This story reminds me about all the times, mostly in the middle of the night, when I have “contended with God.” When sleep evades me, my thoughts often turn to the things in my life that do not seem fair or right. I discuss these things with God, often with tears and silent rage. “Why did a twelve-year old girl at our church have to die?” “What can I do to help my four-year old great-granddaughter with her delayed speech when I live so far away?” “How can I stop using swear words when I get angry?” “How can I stop getting angry?” “When will I be able to balance my checkbook and clean out my closets?” Usually, I end up making peace with God for the moment, and then I sing myself to sleep. I almost never feel that I have “prevailed” in my struggles with God, not because He is stronger than I am, but because He is more patient and forgiving than I am. His grace has always allowed me to commune with Him through prayer. I eventually come to a place where I accept that seeking His will is a better choice than my continuing to complain.

 

Lord, You showed us through Jacob that it’s okay to “wrestle” with You. Thank You for loving us even then. Amen

 

Both candid and humorous, insightful and ponderous, Meg Blaine Corrigan’s memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, takes the reader through her chaotic childhood with an alcoholic mother and enabling father to a violent assault that nearly ended her life. She populates her tale with vivid descriptions of her parents, other influential adults, the attacker, and her disastrous first marriage. But this story has a happy ending, when Meg finds solace in a God she didn’t think she’d ever believe in, when He gently helps her heal from her past lives and move into the best times of her life. Meg has also written a novel, Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, about said first marriage, as well as a Christian devotional, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, comprised of blogs from this site. Stay tuned for sequels to her last two books! All of her works may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

TOLERANCE FOR AMBIGUITY

Tolerance for AmbiguityWho is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to Me. Job 38:2-3

 

In my master’s program for counseling, we studied “tolerance for ambiguity,” or the ability to manage uncertainty in which an outcome is unknown. Life is full of situations when we are not certain what will happen. A 2018 study at Brown University found that people who can handle uncertainty are more likely to trust others and cooperate in seeking solutions to problems. This makes sense because trusting others means we have to take a risk that what they say to us is true and what they say they will do, they will do. This trust allows us to work with others to solve problems, within our families or work or church. Embarking on group projects automatically means we don’t know the exact outcome, But sometimes the outcome can be much more than we expected or hoped for.

 

A case study in tolerance for ambiguity is the Bible story of Job. Psychology Today Magazine columnist Dr. Mark Banschick has an interesting commentary on how Job, a man with faith, health, wealth, wisdom, and a large and close family experiences numerous undeserved traumas. The book opens with God telling Satan what a good man Job is. Satan challenges God that surely Job will not maintain his faith if he loses everything. God says, “You’re on,” and the tragedy begins. Job loses livestock, possessions, family, his own health and much more…but he never once denounces God. Then Job’s “friends” arrive. They argue, “You must have sinned (really bad),” “There’s a grand plan (and you don’t know it),” “You’re really mad at God (so admit it).” But still Job persists in his faith. He asks God what’s going on, and God answers him loud and clear. In fact, in Chapter 38, God wallops Job: “Who do you think you are? YOU didn’t create the universe and set the world in motion!” Job might have been terrified of God’s judgment, but what this faithful, good man saw was that God cared enough to come down and be with Job in his sorrow and pain. And that’s what He does for all of us when we experience trauma.

 

Almighty God, we thank You that you comfort us when we are afflicted and traumatized. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

FIRST CHURCH OF THE SINS OF THE FATHERS

Dysfunctional FamilyI, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments. Exodus 20:5-6

 

I know a wise and compassionate young man whom I will can Ben, who was raised in a household of horrors. His father drank non-stop and was cruel to his wife and children. The mother tried to raise her children the best way she knew how but failed because of her own fears, anxieties, and poor behavior. Ben remembered his grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins all seemingly caught up in a sick family dynamic that never improved, leading Ben to eventually become addicted to alcohol and drugs himself. Thankfully, Ben saw the light as a young man, went through drug and alcohol treatment, and began attending Alcoholics Anonymous on a regular basis. He said it was as if his family had forced him to “wear a dirty suit,” and he no longer wanted to do that. It was necessary for him to separate completely from his family of origin in order to survive.

 

Ben’s situation reminds of the passages in the Bible which say in several ways, “the sins of the fathers are visited on the children to the third and fourth generation.” Ben’s family certainly seems to fit this description. But neither Ben nor I believe children are destined to turn out like their wayward parents. Ben and I broke the pattern. We both decided, for a variety of reasons, not to live as our parents had lived. Ben’s situation was far worse than mine, and I admire this young man greatly for the courage it took for him to change his life.

 

But does God really mean he will “punish the children for the sin of the parent?” In today’s Scripture, Exodus 20:5-6, the next few words are critical: “of those who hate Me.” Ben and I were able to seek our “Higher Power,” and we admitted we were powerless without Him. We chose to love and trust God and we are now reaping His “love to a thousand generations.”

 

Lord, I’m so glad to know You and to know Ben and others who have chosen You instead of death and destruction! Amen

 

Both candid and humorous, insightful and ponderous, Meg Blaine Corrigan’s memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, takes the reader through her chaotic childhood with an alcoholic mother and enabling father to a violent assault that nearly ended her life. She populates her tale with vivid descriptions of her parents, other influential adults, the attacker, and her disastrous first marriage. But this story has a happy ending, when Meg finds solace in a God she didn’t think she’d ever believe in, when He gently helps her heal from her past lives and move into the best times of her life. Meg has also written a novel, Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, about said first marriage, as well as a Christian devotional, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, comprised of blogs from this site. Stay tuned for sequels to her last two books! All of her works may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

GUARD MY TONGUE, LORD!

Watch Your TongueI said, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will keep a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.” Psalm 39:1

 

Okay, I will admit, by mouth gets the better of me sometimes. I’m improving as I age, but once in a while, I say things that I really shouldn’t have or didn’t mean to. Then they are just out there and I have to live with the consequences. Sometimes it’s just embarrassing, but occasionally, it’s downright painful. I am usually my own worst critic, and most of the time amends are made and things are fine. But we can’t take back the words we say very easily, and in spite of the old saying, words do hurt. Ask David. He talks about the tongue and his lips and his words on numerous occasions in the Psalms. Sometimes he says he’s watching himself around those who are “wicked,” as in Psalm 39:1. But other times, he takes full responsibility for his actions: “While I mused, the fire burned;  then I spoke with my tongue” (Psalm 39:3).

 

James has pointed words to say about the tongue too, describing it as “a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!” (James 3:5). He continues: “And the tongue is a fire…placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell” (v. 6). And James says, “no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (v. 7). Who among us can win with such a wicked thing in our mouths?

 

I heard a wonderful saying recently about when to speak: “Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said now? Does it need to be said by me?” Surely these are words to abide by! In fact, I can just imagine Jesus whispering them in my ear. If, when my little fiery tongue is ready to lash out and make a fool of me, I could slow my mind long enough to repeat these three questions to myself, things would go much better.

 

Patient Lord, help me ask myself these important questions before I open my mouth! Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

CRY ME A RIVER

Tears_Macro_Female_face-1200x628-FacebookYou keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 NLT

 

According to Wikipedia, “Tears are a clear liquid secreted by the lacrimal glands (tear gland) found in the eyes of all land mammals (except for goats and rabbits). Their functions include lubricating the eyes (basal tears), removing irritants (reflex tears), and aiding the immune system.” The American Academy of Pediatrics says that babies “cry” a lot, but they don’t produce tears until they are seven or eight months old. Women cry on average almost twice as often as men, but this may be due to societal acceptance of women who shed tears over men. In fact, the Latin name for “cry baby,” or someone who tears up frequently, is lachrimist, and can refer to either gender.

 

Crying can be good for you, because it releases oxytocin and endorphins, chemicals that make us feel better. I am not typically a crier, but when I get started, it’s hard to stop. And the littlest things can choke me up, like a Hallmark card commercial, or a sweet animal video, or just some random kid in the neighborhood doing something caring for another kid or (better yet) an adult.

 

Christians have often called this earthly life a “valley of tears.” Even though we believe in a gracious and loving God, and we place our hope in His ability to lift us up from the woes of this present life, we also grieve and feel sorrow and hurt throughout our worldly journey. And although we may often feel like our pain is of no consequence to those around us, not one twinge of discomfort escapes God’s watchful eye. Psalm 121:4 says God “neither sleeps nor slumbers,” but He keeps watch over us at all times. The image in Psalm 56:8 of God caring enough to collect each of sorrow-(and joy-)filled tears in a bottle is of great comfort to me. It reminds me that, though my weeping may not seem productive to me, God values those experiences as much as he does my greatest earthly successes. So go ahead, cry a river! God will still love you!

 

God of Tender Mercies, You treasure my tears enough to preserve them in a heavenly bottle. I am humbled and grateful for Your love and concern. Amen

 

Alone on a Colorado mountain, Meg Corrigan faced the unthinkable, a situation that almost ended her life. Hear the details of her astounding rescue from the hands of a gun-wielding attacker and how she walked off that mountain. Hers is a story of tragedy turned holy, a journey of sorrow and healing, a powerful message of hope in the darkest hour. In her memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, Meg credits her resilience to the grace of God. She is also the author of Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, tales based on her years as a drummer in a Hawaiian show band; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, released this month. Meg is a retired college counselor, author, speaker, trainer and sexual assault survivor. She speaks to churches, civic groups, college students, mental health professionals and law enforcement personnel, as well as youth in juvenile facilities. Corrigan lives in Lake Elmo, Minnesota with her husband, Patrick and their formerly disenfranchised rescue dog Ginger. She loves to coax seemingly dead plants out of the soil in her yard. The couple have four daughters, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net or www.MegCorrigan.com .

RESTING GRINCH FACE

grinch1.0A cheerful heart is a good medicine,  but a downcast spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

 

We’ve all met them. They seem to be everywhere during the Christmas season. Some people just can’t get into the mood for Christ’s birth, no matter what anyone says to them. If you wish them a Merry Christmas, they scowl at you or just turn and walk away. They suck the energy right out of the office Christmas party, and they haunt family gatherings. They won’t tell us what’s bothering them, or what has set them off. They aren’t happy about it being Christmas and they are going to try hard to make the rest of us unhappy too.

 

What do we do about people who spend the entire Advent season wearing a “resting Grinch face?” We can try to console them, engage them in a positive conversation about something, anything! Maybe they have bad memories of Christmas past. I know a woman whose parents were divorced whose only childhood memories of Christmas were about being shuffled from one parent’s home to the other, with little time to enjoy or appreciate either side of the family. Others may associate Christ’s birth with their own feelings of inadequacy or shame or guilt. Grieving for the loss of a loved one, a job, one’s health, or a relationship can add to the holiday blues. Some folks are genuinely turned off by the commercialization of this sacred occasion (count me among them!). And still more people dread being alone on Christmas because there isn’t a single person with whom they can plan to spend the holiday.

 

The “resting Grinch faces” of the world need our understanding and compassion, not our judgement. Holiday blues are different from mental illness, but short-term mental health problems can lead to clinical anxiety and depression. One of the best ways to help people who are unhappy during the Holidays is to include them in our lives and our activities. We may need to remain vigilant and be patient. The season is short, but Christ came not to condemn us but to offer us peace and healing. He would want us to keep that uppermost in our minds.

 

Child of Wonder, You came to us when the world was hurting, just as it is now. Help us spread the light of Your love now and all year long. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan finds ideas for her devotional blogs in everyday places and events, from comic strips to magazines and books, comments on the fly from people she meets, ancient memories of her childhood, and nigglings from God. To date, she has written nearly 700 different devotions, filling one book of daily readings, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, published in 2015. Meg is working on a second book (Saints TWO) which she had hoped would be completed by now. She posts once a week, which means in seven years, she will have enough entries to fill a second book. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing, so Meg is pacing herself, enjoying spending time with her husband, their four daughters and spouses, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as their rescue dog, Bassett/Beagle mix Ginger. Meg is involved in volunteer work at her church, Christ Lutheran in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, and also with sexual violence/sex trafficking prevention and education. She speaks to groups whenever she if offered the opportunity. She is a voracious reader of other people’s writing, which gives her lots of ideas for more devotional blogs. Read more about her at www.MegCorrigan.com or contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net .

ETERNAL IMPLICATIONS

EternityFor salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light…live honorably…,not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:11-14

 

It was a terrible week. We had just buried my father in Las Vegas, Nevada. I had flown back to Minnesota with my mother, placing her in an assisted living facility in spite of her pleading me to let her come and live with me and my new husband. I would not last a week with my mother, an eighty-nine year-old chronic alcoholic, living under the same roof as us. But I promised my father I would look after her, and I was doing the best I could. I was being laid off from the college where I worked, and I wasn’t sure I would have another job to go to at the end of the school year. With no time off left, I was trying to liquidate my parents’ home and belongings in Las Vegas via phone and email. A nursing assistant who had cared for my father asked to buy two recliners, but requested I hold the check until the first of the month. In the midst of all this chaos, the check fell out of my purse at a drugstore while I was filling my new prescription for anti-anxiety medication.

 

The pharmacist found the check and called the nursing assistant in Las Vegas. She called me and came unglued. She berated me first for losing the check, then for not being with my father when he died, then for “uprooting” my mother and dragging her to Minnesota in the middle of the winter. For what seemed like a very long time, I listened to her abuse and prayed for serenity. God delivered in spades. I took a deep breath and told her to keep the recliners, no payment was necessary. I thanked her for taking care of my parents when I could not. I am not always so gracious, but with God’s help, I made the best of an awful situation.

 

Jesus, Lord of Peace, help us see the eternal implications of our actions. Keep us in perfect peace. Amen

 

Alone on a Colorado mountain, Meg Corrigan faced the unthinkable, a situation that almost ended her life. Hear the details of her astounding rescue from the hands of a gun-wielding attacker and how she walked off that mountain. Hers is a story of tragedy turned holy, a journey of sorrow and healing, a powerful message of hope in the darkest hour. In her memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, Meg credits her resilience to the grace of God. She is also the author of Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, tales based on her years as a drummer in a Hawaiian show band; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, released this month. Meg is a retired college counselor, author, speaker, trainer and sexual assault survivor. She is a member of the RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) Speakers’ Bureau. She speaks to churches, civic groups, college students, mental health professionals and law enforcement personnel, as well as youth in juvenile facilities. She lives in Lake Elmo, Minnesota with her husband, Patrick. She loves to coax seemingly dead plants out of the soil in her yard. The couple have four daughters, ten grandchildren and a great-grandchild on the way. Contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net or www.MegCorrigan.com .

THE JELLINEK CURVE

JellinekCurve860x655No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but…He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

 

Alcoholism is a progressive disease. Dr. E.M. Jellinek studied alcoholism, addiction and mental health continuously from the 1930’suntil his death in 1963. Thanks to Jellinek’s acute interest in the personal drinking histories of many subjects, the doctor sought to educate the public about the gradual descent into oblivion that chronic alcoholics experience. His “Jellinek Curve” illustrates these deteriorating alcoholic behaviors, as well as the corresponding healthy behaviors when an alcoholic chooses sobriety. It is no coincidence that the “Curve” shows a beginning, a descent into the bottom of the curve, and a not-so-easy climb back out of the depths of addiction.

 

Chronic addictive behaviors, including alcohol and drug addiction as well as gambling, overeating, spending, sexual deviances, and many other obsessions, are indeed diseases (a condition that prevents the mind and body from working normally), and they are progressive (becoming increasingly worse without intervention to stop the process). But one hallmark of these compulsions is that recovery begins with a conscious choice to change. When I read 1 Corinthians 10:13, I am always struck by my own shortcomings. The passage brings me up short when I realize that I can, with God’s help, resist any and all temptations that befall me. I am not chemically dependent, but I have loved and lived with and lost more alcoholics than I care to remember. And I know it is not so easy for them to accept God’s help to end the cycle of addiction.

 

Does 1 Corinthians 10:13 apply to addictions? Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill W. said men and women who abuse substances “have not only been mentally and physically ill, (they) have been spiritually sick.” Many of the most successful addiction treatment programs include faith and spirituality. Clearly, an addicted person needs a profound change of thinking about herself to achieve sobriety, and one time-honored path to positive self-awareness is faith in God. As with any major life transition, support from friends, family, and society—including our faith communities—can improve the journey away from addiction.

 

Healing Lord, touch those with addictions where they need Your help. Restore them to wholeness. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan finds ideas for her devotional blogs in everyday places and events, from comic strips to magazines and books, comments on the fly from people she meets, ancient memories of her childhood, and nigglings from God. To date, she has written nearly 700 different devotions, filling one book of daily readings, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, published in 2015. Meg is working on a second book (Saints TWO) which she had hoped would be completed by now. She posts once a week, which means in seven years, she will have enough entries to fill a second book. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing, so Meg is pacing herself, enjoying spending time with her husband, their four daughters and spouses, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as their rescue dog, Bassett/Beagle mix Ginger. Meg is involved in volunteer work at her church, Christ Lutheran in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, and also with sexual violence/sex trafficking prevention and education. She speaks to groups whenever she if offered the opportunity. She is a voracious reader of other people’s writing, which gives her lots of ideas for more devotional blogs. Read more about her at www.MegCorrigan.com or contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net .

TONGUES OF FIRE

George Floyd ProtestsThey saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of (the disciples). All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them….”How is it that each of us hears them in our native language?” Acts 2:3-4, 8

 

It was a perfectly awful storm: a deadly pandemic, an economy in freefall, and suddenly a racial crises…again. The year 2020 had devastated the very soul of America with fear, pain and anguish culminating in the death of yet another black man at the hands of police in my neighbor town of Minneapolis, Minnesota. George Floyd allegedly used a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill at a small inner-city grocery store, and the police were called. Three officers pinned Floyd to the ground, one—Derek Chauvin—pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck. A fourth officer looked on. As passers-by begged the police to let him loose, Floyd cried, “I can’t breathe!” until he lost consciousness and died. He had not been charged with a crime and most likely would not have seen a jail cell for his alleged infraction. His death sparked peaceful protests throughout our nation, once again, about racial injustice and police brutality. Other protesters with a very different agenda launched attempts to disrupt, divide, and burn Minneapolis and other cities to the ground. Hatred grew where grief and sadness had been. Hatred tasted good to some, as they rolled it around on their tongues, spewing lies and inciting violence.

 

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, when Christian churches celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the fledgling church that Christ began. Acts 2 recounts how “tongues of fire…separated and came to rest on each one of” the disciples (v. 2). These new leaders were all Galileans, but diverse visitors in Jerusalem heard the message of Christ’s love and grace in their native language, drawing them to a new level of faith.

 

Could this be the turning point in our nation, when blacks and browns will be heard as if we are all speaking the same language? Can we finally say to people of color, “We hear you, we understand what you have been through, and we want change as much as you do?”

 

Let it be, Lord. Let it be. Make a covenant today between all races to end prejudice and hatred. Amen

 

To help out in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, see the following organizations:

  • Black Visions Collective — “A political home for black people across Minnesota.” This nonprofit is dedicated to creating safe, autonomous black communities. Donate here.
  • Reclaim the Block — A coalition that demands that Minneapolis divest from policing and invest in long-term alternatives that promote healthier, safer, and more diverse communities. Donate Here
  • Minnesota Freedom Fund — This nonprofit “pays criminal bail and immigration bond for those who cannot afford to” as they “seek to end discriminatory, coercive, and oppressive jailing.” Donate here.

PANDEMIC EMOJIS

Pandemic EmojisRejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

“The way emoji is being used to describe the pandemic is basically body language for the digital age,” Vyvan Evans, author of The Emoji Code: The Linguistics Behind Smiley Faces and Scaredy Cats, told CNN Business News. “We use language to convey ideas, but part of the meaning is missing” in short social media messages. An entire crop of new emojis has popped up during the Coronavirus pandemic. Smiley faces in masks remind us to cover our mouths and noses for the safety of ourselves and others. Shopping carts are used when we can’t find toilet paper. Hearts show love and concern while we are social distancing. There is even a Covid-19 emoji, the scary green ball with the spikey things, for our convenient use with expressions of fear and anger and just plain frustration with the current situation.

 

But the “praying hands” emoji was used 25% more in April 2020 than in August the previous year, according to Emojipedia, a group which tracks trends and frequency of emoji use on Twitter. Praying hands was the eighth most popular emoji that month, used to express profound thanks to workers on the front line of the epidemic. Praying hands also shows up when people share their concern for those they are unable to see person to person, and they may appear along with the shopping cart to indicate the good fortune of finding that toilet paper in the supermarket. (To date, I have not seen an emoji of a roll of toilet paper, but I’m sure it exists somewhere!)

 

The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances” because this is God’s will for us (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17). The meaning of the passage is about having a willingness to respond to impromptu reminders to raise a person or an issue in prayer any time. Does including the praying hands emoji in a text or Twitter message count as prayer? Paul tells the Romans that the Holy Spirit “groans” for us when we cannot find the words to pray. I expect the Spirit would approve of using an emoji in place of words.

 

Holy Spirit, guide us in our feeble efforts to offer prayers during this pandemic crisis. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan tells stories of wisdom, strength, fear, joy and risk-taking. Daughter of a raging alcoholic mother, and survivor of sexual assault at gunpoint, Corrigan has shaken a dismal past and flung herself into the arms of Christ, Who sustains her in her daily walk of grace. She shares with her listeners her incredible story of surviving and thriving through many trials during her seven decades walking this fragile earth. She has been described as a Renaissance Woman, integrating her formal training in psychology and counseling, an enlightening experience as a percussionist for a Polynesian show troupe, and most recently as an inspirational author and blogger, to the delight of all who read her work and hear her speak. Her exposure to many life experiences has enriched her passion for spreading Christ’s word and helping other trauma survivors. She has a master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling and thirty-plus years of experience in the field of counseling and social work.  She lives in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, with the love of her life, Patrick, and their formerly disenfranchised rescue dog Ginger. www.MegCorrigan.com    MegCorrigan@comcast.net