“Father, if I am to do nothing, let me do so gallantly.”
This past year, I began doing morning examen, a prayer that guides me through what the rest of the day will look like. This phrase has really helped me, especially on those days when I am dealing with a lot of Lyme symptoms and feel incapable of completing anything on my todo list (Today being one of those days. Hello couch.)
My friend Kim once told me that God can still be glorified even if I am just sitting in bed at home. He doesn’t need me to do everything that I want to do, every great and grand idea is still just a plan that I will need His help to accomplish. I hated hearing this, I mean really hated it. I loved to fill my days with tasks, even if many of them seemed completely undoable. Busyness is what I wanted, because busyness to me meant success. A lot of times it still does.
With Lyme constantly landing me at home in bed, or on the couch, I have really had to reevaluate what my idea of success is. This prayer, with its seemingly odd turn of phrase, has been of help to me.
“Let me do so gallantly.”
The phrase “gallant” often brings to mind the image of a gentleman gently scooping up a woman’s handkerchief, or rushing forward to get the door, or pulling out a chair, or lifting the heavy shopping bags. It’s poetic, chivalrous, denotes high standards of conduct, all of the beautiful things we want men to be. However, this is really only the second definition of gallant. The first definition of it is “brave, or heroic.” This means, of course, that gallant does not have to be just for men. It can be my word, too.
In a world that tells us to move quickly and work constantly, sitting still and taking care of our bodies seems a foolish thing to do. But what I love about this prayer is that it recognizes how brave our struggle is. When my body forces me to do nothing but deal with nausea, brain fog, and aching joints, I can do so bravely.
So can you. You may be doing nothing according to the world, but you are being brave. You are heroic as you sit there putting your body back together, fighting for a sense of “okay.” You there on the couch, struggling to breath, to get through this panic attack, you are brave. You have boldness, daring, and, as the old adventurers used to say, “no small amount of pluck”. You could let this mow you down, but you’re fighting it, even if it’s just in small ways, like resting or choosing to be thankful. You are doing gallant work, and I salute you.
Lord, as we sit today we are frustrated. We are tired of our pain, tired of being a people who are often defined by what our illness does and does not allow us to do. We are weary of our failings, our inability to be what the world deems “normal.” As we sit, as we work towards health, help us do so bravely. If our task is to do what the world calls nothing, let us do so gallantly, in Your strength. Help us recognize that in the midst of our nothing, You are everything. Help us be brave. Amen.