The Son of a Bitch Prayer

By Kathy Dahlk

At a Quaker gathering in Ohio last summer the keynote speaker, Connie McPeak, shared the story of her spiritual journey. Many years ago her husband had left her and their two small children for another woman. While understanding her devastation and fury, a wise elder challenged her to transform her pain and anger or it could harden into a lifetime of bitterness. She was told that she needed to pray for her husband every day. It was okay if she prayed through clenched teeth and called him a son of a bitch. What mattered was to begin, and to pray in this particular way – that he receive the same spiritual gifts that she wanted for herself and that she picture both of them being held in the arms of God. It wasn’t an instant miracle. She laughed as she recalled that she prayed for the sob for a long time through tightly clenched teeth and had to imagine the two of them being far apart in God’s very, very wide arms. But it did work; the anger and pain were transformed into compassion for him and for herself.

I love this story because it is so honest. No false piety. Start where you are clenched teeth and all. Pray anyway. And pray for the one who doesn’t deserve it, asking for the spiritual gifts you want for yourself (who is deserving; well, at least more deserving.) See both of you being in God’s embrace. And, perhaps, as the Quakers say, a way will open.