“Let there be Esther,” I heard God pronounce, speaking right into my life-long struggle to exist.
During the Ignatian prayer retreat I was leading last week, I had a chance to pray with one of my “joyful mysteries.” As I instructed the retreatants to do, I returned to a moment in which I felt loved by God.
That morning, I’d shared the poem Book of Genesis with the retreatants gathered online. Whenever I hear Pádraig Ó Tuama read this poem, I find myself close to tears. In prayer, I returned to that feeling and lingered there. I imagined God saying, “Let there be Esther. Let her be soft and strong. Let her be short and like biking and. . .” More tears came as I got a sense of God creating me with the same wonder and delight God had when s/he said, “Let there be mountains and trees and birds and fish,” and they came to be.
The subject of my birth took me back to a pre-cognitive memory I had when I was praying the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises eight years ago. I was a baby and, being the third child, there was no room for me on my mother’s lap. One of my siblings squeezed my cheeks, and I heard, “Be quiet. Nobody asked you to be here.”
Whether this was an actual memory or my child’s mind trying to make meaning, it seeded a fear of rejection I unconsciously internalized from a very young age. This fear has plagued me ever since.
In prayer, I saw myself with my siblings and mother again, but this time the heavens parted. A chorus of Let was pronounced over me in the presence of my family. God had spoken. I was beautiful and good and deeply loved.
This led me to look back on my life-long struggle to exist.
At times, I experienced bouts of depression and a desire to disappear whenever life validated that what I feared was true. Other times, I experienced anger and barked back when I felt dismissed or silenced. A recent experience of that woke me up and allowed me to notice moments in which I can now hold uncomfortable feelings, notice the pinch, and not react. In these moments, I didn’t need to bark back or disappear.
More “Lets” are being spoken from God’s heart as I continue to be created. “Let Esther stand strong, and let her know the freedom of feeling her fears and not being overwhelmed by them. Let her be free to respond in love. And let her believe that she is beautiful and good and deeply loved by her family and friends.”
God “continues in rounds saying let, and let and let until even silent dreams are allowed.”
The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
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I am so inspired by Jim Kwik’s story. He was called “the boy with the broken brain” but there was a “Let” for Jim. God shared his silent dream of becoming a superhero, and he became one. He uses his superpowers to help others find theirs.