Today’s post is from Mara Measor, and tells the story of how she found herself praying naked prayers in the depths of depression. It’s a gem (and there’s a soundtrack, too, if you click here) Mara is a musician and artist, and the author of Naked Prayers. I asked Mara to share the story of how she started doodling when words failed.
As a first-time author, I shouldn’t admit the following, but I must – I have an awfully hard time with words. I often walk away from conversations shaking my head, wishing I hadn’t used a certain word, or, wishing—in the middle of trying to explain something—that I could muster more than a string of “uh, you know, uh…” from my lame lips. The more complicated the subject, the more panicked my poor tongue.
So when my own life suddenly became a complicated subject three years ago, I was at a total loss for words. Depression was a totally unfamiliar state: surely I was one of the happy, healthy ones! And yet for a week, and then a month, and then several months, I was struggling to get out of bed. I would lie on the ground crying for what felt like no reason at all. I canceled four out of every five appointments I had – I couldn’t imagine responding honestly when people asked me my least favorite question at the time – how are you?
“Uh, pretty bad, you know, yeah, really bad.” And then, upon seeing their discomfort, a quick about-face, “Oh, but I’m fine. It’s not bad.”
Prayer was awkward, too. I mean, how do you tell the person who created you that you really do not enjoy being alive? I wasn’t sure how to express my pain to Him.
I suspect that somewhere along the way, my right-brain softly encouraged my bewildered left-brain to take a break, and I started doodling. Something about drawing these simple images gave me greater perspective: I really was a helpless little stick figure, navigating a big and broken world. Time and time again, when words failed me, I drew, and seeing the pictures in my journal would bring a rare smile to my face.
I wrote songs, too. Even though each time I strummed my guitar, tears inevitably made themselves known, somehow I managed to put my fears, despair, and most importantly, a faint hope into my songs.
Two years later, I share these words, doodles and prayers not to teach anyone how to pray – there are plenty of great books covering the how-to’s and why’s of prayer. I share this book and album project because I want to show people who are hurting how I really prayed in the midst of darkness and confusion.
Very few things brought me comfort in my depression. Most of the Bible seemed frustratingly irrelevant to the fact that I didn’t even want to be here – until I turned to the book of Psalms. And I realized that I was far from the first follower to love God but struggle profoundly with being alive. My hope now, is that my little modern-day Psalms can also be a comfort to those who forget that God is not afraid of our mess, and that honestly navigating through our brokenness with Him may be our only hope for healing.
All it takes to start could be a nervous, “Uh, God, help me.”
Mara Measor is a New York based musician, illustrator and author. Her book Naked Prayers: Honest Confessions to a Loving Creator is available on Amazon, and the accompanying album on her website. Here’s one of the tracks from the Naked Prayers album (and listen for the beautiful cello!)