I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing.1

When I was in college and going through the worst of it, I got tired of praying that the sadness would go away and that things would be easy. I got tired of it because it was a prayer that was never answered. Or maybe it was, since it’s said that every prayer has only three possible answers: Yes, Later, and Something Better. If this prayer was answered at that time, the answer was certainly one of the latter two.

I wondered, then, if there was a prayer that God would always say Yes to, to spare me the suspense of wondering what his response would be. I came up with this one: Lord, let this day be good. I’d say it on the mornings when I woke up and felt the pain settle in, and I’d say it in the evenings when I saw another night of difficulty coming.

The whole trick was not to bother myself about what “good” might mean. All the problems came from bothering: Why me, why this? What’s the use, what’s the point, what’s this for? How did this happen; when will it be over? Questions that tied my stomach into knots. And again, if God answered those questions, I couldn’t hear him — as C. S. Lewis says somewhere2 — over the din of my own grief. Better not to ask till the noise died down.

But “Let this day be good” — this was always answered. Years later I began to have glimpses of how it was answered, but never completely, and never steadily. Others could see it, no doubt, better than I could. I was too close.

It’s an easy prayer to pray. It requires quiet, and it brings quiet. Sometimes it’s the only prayer possible.

It’s the sort of prayer Jesus might have prayed on the Friday which is, after all, called Good.

1 From T. S. Eliot’s East Coker.
2 Either in The Problem of Pain or A Grief Observed.

16 thoughts on “Good

  1. George

    Beautiful entry as always. Going through a hard time myself right now, but the hardest part (Confessing) is over. Thanks be to God. At times I am so glad I was not born BC; eating crow is a lot less overwhelming than living under the Mosaic Law.

    Reply
  2. Blake

    Hey Steve!

    Praise God for this blog! It is such a needed message… I came across one of your articles on Catholic Exchange, and I felt called to share with you the YouTube channel I recently started having to do with same-sex attraction and Christianity. I am a young male Catholic with SSA and felt like Jesus wanted me to start being a lot more public about it so here I am! I just figure that guys like us are somewhat rare these days, so we need to band together if we want to get anything accomplished in our overwhelmingly secular society! The link is http://www.youtube.com/user/BlakeSweet1/videos

    God bless you brother!

    -Blake

    Reply
    1. Rob

      Hey Blake – just saw your vids. Thanks for posting them. You and Steve and so many like you in your positions are so inspiring to me. I’m studying for the priesthood and working with the Courage apostolate. Thank you (and Steve) for your witness and for living your faith out loud (so to speak). May God continue to bless you (and Steve) on your walk with Him.

      Reply
  3. Anthony

    Hi Steve-Been following your blog for a few months now, and find you really know how to express so many things I am feeling. I enjoy all your posts, but this one really hit close to home and made me cry. Hard. After 42 years of living an isolated and loveless life, about 8 months ago Christ finally told me it was time to face my SSA and all the catastrophic pain that went with it. So I am, and I am so in love with Christ, because He is holding me close through this, but there are many days that just suck. It’s the blackness you describe in other posts. The despair and depression. It’s so hard to describe to others who don’t suffer with this, that it’s not the attraction, but the brokenness that caused it at such a young age, and the fact that the very mechanism itself prevents trusting and accepting any kind of love, hence the daily wrestling match with Christ. In countless hours of research and reading, I understand this thing pretty well, and still, accepting Christ’s love for me is the hardest part, and trusting in His healing, and that He wants good things for me. God Bless you Steve, and all of us suffering with this wound. I know perhaps it’s not the worst, but it sure ain’t the best! Reading your blog helps me to know I am not alone in this fight!

    Reply
  4. Kristy

    I needed this tonight. I will pray this prayer tomorrow morning and every morning after that and hope that one day I, too, can see the Yes. Thank you.

    Reply
  5. Narcissus G

    Where to start? How about with Eliot. I think the Four Quartets should be filed not just with poetry but with mystical literature as well. I have gotten more out of Eliot than I ever have from Merton. Blake, God bless your efforts! Rob – praying for you. Glad that you have found Courage. If the Courage Apostolate was more well known when I was in the seminary, maybe I wouldn’t have left. Back then, it was the Myers Briggs and Enneagram that explained behavior. Forget that Catholic stuff. Anthony – you’re definitely not alone. As a matter of fact, we should form a club and have our own parade, but that would probably be too flamboyant a gesture.

    And Steve, I’m curious to know: did the answers ever come after the noise died down? Or did you never ask again?

    Reply
    1. Steve Gershom

      Fair question. The answers come & go. Sometimes I feel like I understand everything, sometimes I feel like I understand nothing at all. Mostly I try not to worry about it too much.

      Reply
  6. Doug Duncan

    Hey Steve,
    I am a recently converted Catholic, i am in love with my new faith, yet like you and other readers I struggle with SSA.
    How do you deal with some in the world that seem to view you as a homophobic traitor for not proclaiming gay rights. Be blessed and keep up the good work.

    Reply
    1. Steve Gershom

      Hi Doug,

      Congratulations on your conversion! I bet there’s a story & a half behind it.

      I’ll be honest: since I stay anonymous on the blog, and since I’m not “out” except to family & a few friends, and since most of my readers are sympathetic, I haven’t had to deal with much of this.

      One thing I’ve found difficult to communicate to non-Christians, even though it’s absolutely essential to this question and so many others, is that the Catholic position on homosexuality is anything but arbitrary, but that it’s an inseparable part of the entire worldview that is Catholicism. People are used to seeing religion as some extra add-on to life, rather than an entire way of seeing the world.

      SG

      Reply
  7. Cait

    A priest in college once suggested a similar prayer to me. I was deep in a depression and was very angry because I had thrown myself into daily mass and endless rosaries thinking if I prayed enough I’d get the answer I wanted and when nothing got better it felt so unfair. He told me to chill out a bit and work on saying “Please give me the graces to get through today” and at night to say thank you for them. Wow did it help.

    Reply
  8. Doug Duncan

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks for the response; I am like you in that i’m not ‘out’ except to a few friends and family. I guess what i mean is that i saw a study posted on Facebook by a nonreligious gay acquaintance (my ex-aunt’s brother) that homophobes are really repressed homosexuals. I also have a lot of friends who proclaim ‘gay rights’ that don’t really see what I have come to. My own mother, who supported my conversion, also sympathizes with this viewpoint. She wants me to be like this acquaintance, and it irritates me.
    I have thought about it a bit, and i guess Catholicism is something they don’t understand and you just need to pray for them.

    Reply

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