I picked up a compilation of prayers throughout the ages tonight, and found this prayer by Susanna Wesley. It sounds a great deal like my discussion of fantasy lives (p. 112ff), and I had to smile at finding such an articulate description of a similar challenge 250 years ago. Susanna writes,“Save me from leading an imaginary life in the ideas of others, and so to be eager and forward in showing myself to the world. Forbid that I should retain, improve and adore this fictitious being, while stupidly neglecting the truth. Help me not to contend with men’s interest, prejudices, and passions, that rarely admit of a calm dispute, when it can be innocently avoided. May I be so far a lover of myself as to prefer the peace and tranquility of my own mind before that of others, and if, after doing all I can to make others happy, they yet remain obstinately bent to follow those ways that lead to misery, I leave them to your mercy.” (Prayers Across the Centuries)
Susanna’s words rang even more true to me as I had recently engaged an honest, intense conversation over our common struggle to “retain, improve and adore the fictitious being” while stupidly avoiding the truth. I appreciate Susanna’s self acceptance, preferring the peace and tranquility of her own mind, and am grateful for one more window into this internal struggle that so often robs us of energy, peace and joy. May the prayer of yet another mother of the faith encourage us as we, too, fight the mental battles that free us to live inside the present tense moments of our own lives. May the Lord lay his hands on our disordered minds and speak peace to us!