Why I’ve Given Up on Prayer


A number of years ago, when my daughters were still teenagers, my youngest stepped into a season of struggle (to put it mildly) that stretched me beyond capacity, hope, or reason. There were moments in which I couldn’t decide if I should call 911, her therapist, my therapist, or just hide under the covers and let her do the same. At its worst, I wrestled with what felt like the real possibility of losing her altogether. I won’t keep you in suspense: today she is an amazing young woman — aware, wise, hardly naive, clear about what it means to struggle, able to offer levels of empathy and compassion to others ; she continues to astound me. But before this “ending,” there was the beginning night of awareness of just how bad things were. No sleep. Only tears. And a memory that feels like it was yesterday:

I sat on the edge of my bed and sobbed, more deeply aware than ever before, just how alone I was as a single mom, more afraid than I’d ever felt, and more-than completely unequipped for what was happening in the mind and heart of my precious girl. Through tears and snot and not nearly enough Kleenex,  It would offer a panacea I no longer had at my disposal. How convenient and pleasant: to hand all this off somehow, to feel like in surrendering, in turning it over to God, that surely all things would work together for good.

Not believing this anymore left me feeling even more alone and more afraid. I wanted to pray, but knew that to do so would be little other than my desperate wish and a frantic grasping at anything that might ease my pain but do nothing to lessen hers. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t.

In the more than 10 years that have passed since that night, I have thought back on it many times. I have sussed out my cynicism, my anger, and certainly my angst. But still, my resistance to prayer has remained. It was a crossroads, to be sure: deeply longing for solace, but with seemingly nowhere to turn except within; to blow on some barely-lit fire inside me that somehow-but-barely enabled me to get up in the morning, fix her breakfast, send her to school, and hope and hope and hope.

I realize that all of this sounds dark and dreary. And at the time, it was. Now I remember it with endless gratitude. Yes, because she made it through that particular season of crisis. But also because I did: not broken or desolate, but more aware than ever before of what it meant to walk through “the valley of the shadow of death,” completely present to everything I felt.

Not some whimsical temptation or luring sin. Not that kind of desire: tepid, temporary, lite. No.

This desire was blazing, intense, undaunted, and undying. It was (and is) a full and unrestrained expression of everything within me. And a far cry from anything I’d ever known in prayer.

The Upanishads capture this, at least in part:

“You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”

Desire takes courage. And faith. There is no promise of an outcome we long for. No guarantee. Just sheer determination, firm belief, and an endless acknowledgement of what thrums within us in the deepest and most persistent of ways. It persists. It perseveres. It burns.

There are days and times when I feel a lingering ache for prayer’s comfort and solace. But less and less. I don’t need to be soothed, but enflamed. I don’t need to surrender, but rise up. I don’t need to find answers, but to take action. And my desire is what compels all of this and then some. Endlessly burning… one might even say without ceasing.

Wisdom from Dr. Sharon

I came across a Facebook post by Brene Brown a few weeks back. She was talking about her recent conversation with Sarah Niles who plays Dr. Sharon Fieldstone on Ted Lasso. (If you’re not a Ted Lasso devotee, I promise, all of this will still make sense.)

These were the words in the meme that accompanied the post:

All I try to do is just root my feet and feel like I have a right to be here. I deserve to be loved. I deserve to be seen. I am seen. I am loved. ~ Sarah Niles

Honestly. I could just stop here, yes?

And, I have more I want to say…

Root your feet and feel like you have a right to be here.
We live in a world that often (and still) tells us we do not have that right. The evidence is legion. Still, still, women are not allowed to make choices for themselves (in some states more than others). Still, still, our voices are not heard. Still, still, our compensation does not equal that of our male counterparts. Still, still, domestic violence persists — and sexual trafficking — and sexual violence. And what is the antidote to this? SO much, of course; but the MOST healing, MOST transformative, MOST world-changing thing possible is YOU believing that you have a right to be here. Right here. Right now. So, root your feet. Stand still. Stand tall. Stand firm. And stay.

You deserve to be loved. You deserve to be seen.
No kidding. Despite your own stories — a lifetime of them — in which you’ve not been loved as you deserved, not been seen, not been heard, not been honored, this wisdom calls you to a deeper truth; one that surpasses, overcomes, and heals the lies.

You are seen. You are loved.
The thing I love about these two statements is that they eliminate all argument, all self-doubt, all question marks, all ambivalence, all wondering. They just are. They are true. And when you believe them, really believe them, then you live in ways that reflect their truth. Do that, yes?

A few ways you might experiment in the days to come:

  • Every morning this week, open up a blank document on your computer or page in your journal and write these words across the top of the page: Because I have the right to be here, that means…
  • In every conversation or interaction or meeting this week, tuck an index card or sticky note into your pocket — even the palm of your hand — that says, I deserve to be loved. I deserve to be seen. Then pay attention to, even track, how that shifts the way in which you show up, how you speak out, what you say “no” to, where you say “yes,” even the tilt of your chin and the squaring of your shoulders.
  • Each night this week, just before you fall asleep, repeat these words: I am seen. I am loved. What dreams may come? What gratitude might pour forth? What reflection might you see in your minds eye of just how amazing and wise and deserving you truly are?
  • Oh, and listen to the podcast: Brene Brown’s conversation with Sarah Niles herself.
  • Finally, again and again and again — repeat these words to yourself (maybe even to those you love):

All I try to do is just root my feet and feel like I have a right to be here. I deserve to be loved. I deserve to be seen. I am seen. I am loved.

Vast thanks, Dr. Sharon.

3 Ways to be Determined & Wise

There’s an ancient, sacred story told of a woman who had the capacity to influence a man of power, who was adamant about her desires, who demanded the miraculous, and who, offers us a pretty amazing template for how to be determined, independent, and wise ourselves!

I love her story: her determination, her opinionated-ness, her unwillingness to accept “no” for an answer, her strength, her courage, her decisiveness, her agency…

And chances are high you’ve not heard of her. Or if you did, it was a LONG time ago and definitely without the 3 points I’m about to make!

She’s called the Shunammite. The prophet she interacts with is Elisha. And the miracle she demands is her son’s resurrection. Which she gets, by the way! (Though this may sound WAY outside the context of your own story, stay with me. I promise…it will connect and relate.)

She offers us three takeaways worth pondering, pursuing, and living:


1) This woman constructed her own rules related to wealth, roles, and voice.

She was not constrained by the common customs of the day (dependent, deferring, and silent). She was profoundly countercultural, made decisions completely independent of a man, and was intact — in and of herself — in every way.

Consider the predominant messages of our world today: the assumed standards of what is “appropriate” or “acceptable” behavior. What are the unspoken rules you know like the back of your hand? I get it: few of them are blatant; no declaration hangs on the wall. It’s highly possible that the only time you are actually aware of any “rules” at all is when you consider breaking one of them. And then? Well, resistance floods. The list of cons far outweighs the pros. You can already anticipate exactly what the fallout will be if you do/be/say ________.

The Shunammite offers you something far different. She says,“ Do just the opposite! Construct your own rules. No permission required!”


2) This woman did not place stock in religious authority or positions of power.

Instead, she relied on her own understanding, beliefs, and faith. She ostensibly said, “I will choose my own response to this circumstance. I will not be silenced into submission. I will determine where I place my hope and in whom.”

Think about your own story with religion — whether you went to church every single Sunday like me or just the opposite. What did you learn about who held the power, who determined what was allowed and not, right and wrong, good and bad? Chances are high there was little choice: you either believed or you didn’t; you acceded to the system and the beliefs, or you did not. And that either/or, black/white binary profoundly (and painfully) limits your spirituality, your experience of the sacred. It breaks my heart.

This woman, the Shunammite offers you something far different. Decide for yourself what you will believe, what you will hope in, what is worth fighting for. You get to choose, experience, and know the sacred on your own terms.


3) This woman refused to take “no” for an answer

— especially from those who wielded far more power and authority. She didn’t ask for her husband’s permission. She wouldn’t let Elisha’s servant serve as proxy. In fact, she conjured the power-source himself into her midst by adamantly refusing anything less.

Consider the places in your life — past and present — in which the tendency or temptation to comply or compromise has been not only present, but overwhelming. Because…well…let’s be honest: to stand up for yourself, to state your opinion, to exert your own power often feels more exhausting than it’s worth. To be just a little smaller, accept just a little less, take on just a bit more, and silently endure isn’t your first choice, but sometimes, quite frankly, it feels like the most sane one. Saying “yes,” even though it’s not wholehearted becomes far easier than having to stand fast, resist, and remain firm. I understand, believe me.

This woman, the Shunammite offers you something far different. “No” can be your default response — to any form of compromise, to any requirement that you give up hope, to any person of power who wants you to settle down or settle, period.


Pretty good stuff, huh? And all from a dusty, old, and relatively unknown story that (still) offers us powerful and relevant ways of being that are relevant, practical, and applicable right now, today, in this moment. (I love that this is the case!!)

So, by way of review:
1) Do just the opposite of the rules and expectations in place.
2) Define and experience the sacred on your own terms; create your own spirituality.
3) Say “no” to any form of power who prefers less of you instead of all of you.


This story, the Shunammite’s is one of 52 that I reimagine and retell so that you can be accompanied, advocated for, and supported by the wisdom you deserve for the year ahead.

One of these stories, these women, is choosing you. I’m certain of it!

Learn more, then order your 2022 SacredReading today. 50% off through 12/20/21!

Why I Left My Corporate Job

My thoughts on fear, courage, and being an entrepreneur.

In January of 2018 I left my 10-year-old online business for a job as a trainer/facilitator with a Leadership Development company. Though it was a complicated decision — walking away from my website, blogging, subscribers, my online presence — I knew it was the right one.

I was right. I loved the work. I loved the content I got to teach. And I loved the people I worked with. Just a year later, I was promoted. Then, just over a year later, Covid descended. Then, months after that, there was an unexpected senior leadership change. Then, everything changed.

In the midst of such, and regrettably, I watched myself move into my highly-honed default behaviors of compromise and compliance. I kept my head down. I didn’t speak up. I pulled back. I did what was required — but with less heart, less presence, less “me.” Until…

I pulled back far enough to notice. I had to honestly acknowledge that I was behaving in ways that were completely antithetical to who I knew myself to be. And though I couldn’t have known where it would lead, I said to myself, “No more.”

And then, things got even harder (as is almost always the case when we choose our own integrity, authenticity, and alignment over compromise and compliance). And harder still. Eventually, through a “mutual separation agreement,” I left. September 17, 2020.

It is hard to make choices on our own behalf when they are costly, when there is so much at stake, when fear of the unknown looms.

I believe this is almost always the nature of it — at least as I look back on the most significant decisions and transitions in my life. I also believe that bearing those costs and facing those fears exponentially increased the reward, my sense of strength and capacity, my awareness of my own value and worth.

If you are sitting at a crossroads, where the laundry list of costs feels nearly overwhelming, where what’s at stake is pretty much everything, where the fear of the unknown feels dark and scary, here’s what I want you to know:

  • Consider that the complexity and cost is the very evidence you need to confirm just how important this choice is, just how capable and worthy you are to make it, just how much you and your desires matter.
  • If it were simple or benign, you would have already made the move, had the conversation, left the job, risked it all, started your own business, enforced the boundary.It’s NOT simple or benign. Which is WHY it is asking so much of you.
  • Know that your costs and fears are real. You get to acknowledge them instead of push them under the surface. Not once, but over and over again. Though this feels daunting, it is like Olympic training: building strength you didn’t know you had in order to face and surmount challenges you didn’t know you could.
  • Trust me when I tell you that you are no less worthy if you wait, if you hold off, if you can’t bear those costs right now. I understand. You are still more than enough.


Now just over a year out from my seemingly-stable corporate position that offered me a steady paycheck and benefits and frequent flyer miles and an expense account — I feel the to-be-expected angst of being on my own.

Day-in, day-out I see the costs, what’s at stake, and all my fears lined up like toy soldiers in front of my computer monitor waiting to be addressed or ignored, tackled or given into.

Day in, day-out I remind myself of what I’m doing and why it matters.

And day in, day-out I recognize that in spite of it all, I am choosing me — over and over again. Most days, that is more than enough benefit to stay the course, trust myself, and persist. Easy? Not at all. Worthwhile? That IS the risk, the gamble, and the focus of my endless hope.

May it be so.

About my recent book-proposal rejection

A month or so ago I got a rejection letter from the publishing company to whom I sent my book proposal. To be fair, “rejection” is too harsh. It was more of a “suggestion” letter: recommended next steps, etc. But to say I was not disappointed would be too “light” and dismissive.

In the throes of all my emotions, I remembered a year-plus ago when I was still in my corporate position. I taught a program on confrontation. As part of the in-classroom experience, participants wrote out a statement using a particular framework and then read it (in simulation) to the person they were confronting. One part of that “script” was naming their feelings about the situation, the offense, the issue at hand. For example, “When you lied to me, I felt angry (or betrayed or sad or frustrated, etc.)” As I walked around the room and listened in, I’d inevitably hear someone say, “When you ______, I felt disappointed.” That was my cue to interrupt the process for a few minutes, head back to the front of the room, and offer the following:

“I forgot to mention: ‘disappointed’ is not an emotion. It’s your (unmet) expectations; not what you’re actually feeling. When we tell someone we are disappointed in them it evokes their shame, which isn’t going to get us any closer to resolution. What do you really feel?”

And that memory? Right. Got it.

Disappointment is real, but it’s not a feeling — not like grief, joy, anger, or fear. It’s a circumstance or state-of-things. It only shows up when my expectations are not met — which feels important to name. And it is only ever present because of me: my thoughts, my hopes, my beliefs (even if misguided).

So what do I really feel? Sad. A tiny bit angry. Frustrated. And clear…there is more work to be done.

Yes, of course: I am disappointed, too. It would have been lovely to receive an enthusiastic “yes.” But underneath that, further up and further in, when I was willing to look closely, I was able to return to some things that feel more important and more true:

  • When disappointment arrives (which, of course it does and will again), we would be well served to ask how its presence might serve us. How it might remind and reinforce exactly what we care about, why we’re doing what we’re doing, that it matters? For me, the rejection, though a sting, actually compels me to be even more committed to what I’m writing, to stay the course, to remember why it matters and just how much.
  • Look closely at what is actually happening, actually being said, actually true. This took me a hot minute, believe me. I had to read through the email a couple more times before I could find the suggestion instead of the rejection; the affirmation of the overall concept, my writing, and its importance; the encouragement to finish the manuscript and circle back. Right, that.
  • Acknowledge that disappointment has to do with our own unmet expectations, no one else, nothing else. Maybe those need to be looked at more closely and recalibrated. And maybe, just maybe, that means I need to look most closely at me not “them.” I still have agency and choice, even (and maybe especially) when it feels like it’s been taken away.

Even in writing this piece, in openly admitting that I didn’t get an effusive and immediate “yes,” I can feel the disappointment resurface. Natural. Normal. And not where I want to stay…

There’s more writing to be done!

3 ways to be fear-defying in writing and life

When I look back over 17 years of blogging, here’s what stands out to me:

My voice has fluctuated, depending on the level of fear I’ve felt at any given time.

I’ll admit: “fear” sounds too strong, somehow, but when I boil it down, that IS what’s left.

What I wrote about when I was still married and still part of the church, is far different than what I said once outside both those structures (and strictures). I can see and remember how afraid I was to express my doubts, my questions, my grief, and the many places in which I was feeling more anger than hope. I was afraid I’d be misunderstood, that I’d go too far, that I’d be too much.

What I wrote about in my 40’s and 50’s was different than what I write today — now in my 60’s. And though I could go into all of the details and themes inherent here, suffice it to say, I was afraid I’d be misunderstood, that I’d go too far, that I’d be too much.

This looking back has “forced” me to track the circumstances and seasons in which I held back, hid even, because of fear — all of which was expressed (or not) in my writing. And as I’m inventorying every bit of this, I’m not only getting clearer about fear’s presence, but angrier. Not at myself, but at fear itself.

As women on this planet, we have been conditioned to be afraid, to be far more concerned with how others perceive and experience us, than to hold fast to (even fight on behalf of) who we know-that-we-know-that-we-know ourselves to be.

That needs to change.

In If Women Rose Rooted, Sharon Blackie says:

To become [one] who can express her wrath rather than her rage, and warn of the dire consequences of ignoring it, is to have stepped fully into your own power as a woman.

And in Untamed, Glennon Doyle says that women need to be “full of themselves.”

What we need right now is more women who have detoxed themselves so completely from the world’s expectations that they are full of nothing but themselves. What we need are women who are full of themselves.

A few chapters later she says this:

What the world needs is masses of women who are entirely out of control.

We must, you and me both, consider who we’d be and how we’d be, if fear weren’t present. Yes, in writing. In relationships. In our choices. In our work.

We must, you and me both, be crystal clear on (and done with) everything that has perpetuated its presence.

We must, you and me both, begin and continue to name our wrath over our rage.

We must, you and me both, step fully into our power as women. No more holding back. No more hiding. No more fear. Done.


Here are three provocative questions to consider that serve as a helpful start and then some in this fear-defying, world-changing work:

  1. Who would you be right now (and what would you write) if you expressed your rage (at fear and all that perpetuates) it instead of ignoring it?
  2. Who would you be right now (and what would you write) if you didn’t pay any attention at all to anyone’s expectations of you?
  3. Who would you be right now (and what would you write) if you were entirely out of control (at least as far as the world is concerned)?

I won’t speak for you (though I’m guessing you feel the same): The answers to these three questions define how and what I want to write; more, how I want to live and who I want to be: unbound by fear, unmoved by others’ expectations, and completely unrestrained (even out of control).

May it be so.