I listen to a lot of classic rock.
Or what is now considered classic rock. 80s rock. To me, that was like yesterday, but my kids tell me it’s old. Van Halen, Aerosmith, Journey, Bon Jovi.
And the latter has a song that nearly everyone knows.
Living on a prayer.
Lemon and a Pear
Chicken on a bear
Lizard on a chair
I have a love/hate relationship with that song.
On the one hand, prayer – very important in my life. Maybe your’s too. Or maybe not. Any which way you pray or don’t, it’s all good. But for me it’s important.
On the other hand, the lyrics speak of a (presumably young) couple, Tommy and Gina, and their struggles with just getting by. Tommy’s union is on strike so he’s out of work, Gina’s working in a diner… but they’re halfway “there’ because they’re “living on a prayer”.
Might as well be a chicken on a bear. Maybe you can catch the chicken and eat it with lemon and pear juice.
Don’t get me wrong. As I said, prayer is important in my life. I think prayer ‘works’. I think that at times my prayers have been answered in very powerful and specific ways. Miraculous ways. (But that’s a story for another post.)
But other times I think prayer means you pray, but then you get up off your butt and do something to make it happen.
Like Tommy and Gina. They’re struggling. But they have love so they’re “halfway there”. And while love between a couple, that passionate, all-in, all for that one other person love, can be amazing and in and of itself can do amazing things, it sometimes doesn’t put food on the table.
Can they get up off their butts and do more than just get halfway there? Can they get “all the way” there? Where ever their definition of “there” is?
To be clear, this isn’t a ‘bashing’ of those that struggle. I struggle. My wife and I have lived right at the poverty line for all our adult lives, often plunging drastically below and very nearly being homeless – actually, come to think of it, we were homeless, technically, and had to live with one or the other of our parents at varying points in our marriage.
l more than fully understand that struggle. I more than fully understand that struggle today. Right now.
But should Tommy and Gina rely solely on prayer and each other because it’s enough?
Oh hell no.
All of us, every one of us, we need each other. We need community. And gosh darn it, sometimes we all need help. We all need someone to say “here’s some money go buy some food”. We need those social programs that help with food and heat and healthcare. We need those church food pantries to give us some ramen and pancake mix.
But of all that “each other’ is the important part. None of us are built to go it alone. None of us are meant to isolate ourselves and our families from COMMUNITY.
So if you’re a Tommy or a Gina and you’re literally living on a prayer because you think you have no choice, I implore you, I BEG you, reach out. Get some help. We’re not made to go it alone, and we’re not made to struggle.
There is no shame in asking and getting help. There is nothing heroic about living on a prayer.