Friday, February 18, 2011

Just a few questions...

I've been thinking about these two topics lately, so I thought I'd smash them into one blog and pretend they are some how related.

1) What is the secular equivalent of telling someone "I'm praying for you"?
I've been thinking about this a lot lately because as people share sad information online, the "appropriate" response is, "I'll be praying for you..." or "My thoughts and prayers are with you." I often find myself struggling with the right words to say that convey the same sense of care to the person I'm speaking with. When I do say something about praying, I often feel very inauthentic. My spirituality is complex, and I don't feel like conveying it here, but suffice it to say, that praying is not a part of my experience. But for the majority of people in the US, prayer is therapeutic experience, which is welcomed as both a gift to give and receive.

But the fact is, not everyone shares that perspective. In all reality, many people find other's offerings of prayers as condescending. So what do you say to a person if a) you don't pray yourself or b) you want to respect that the person your are speaking to might not welcome your prayers? I think it's tough because culturally, we assume that praying for someone is one of the few things you can "do" to help a friend who's in a tough spot.

What religious neutral words convey the same meaning? I've tried out "I'll be thinking of you" but it just doesn't have the same feeling.

2) Where are the people like me in the media?
This thought came to me as I was watching The Biggest Loser this week. (I know, I know, that was my first mistake. But I LOVE Parenthood and it's on right after it...) It seems as if the media highlights three types of people:
  • People who are of "normal" body weight and enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
  • People who are overweight but with an undying desire to achieve "normal" body weight so they go on shows like Heavy or The Biggest Loser.
  • People who are overweight lazy slobs who eat fast food three times a day and sit on the couches for hours at a time so they are the butt of jokes or eventually turn into the second type who go on shows like Heavy or The Biggest Loser.
It's easy to see how these promotes the "hollywood ideal" of the classically attractive woman, who has the perfect 10 body, I mean...who wants to be type #3? And inevitably, it contributes to the pressures that women feel to conform to this standard.

But it also erases the experiences of so many people. Specifically, overweight women who are not conforming to the pressure to be smaller. Overweight people like me, who have learned to love our bodies despite every obstacle standing in the way of us doing so. Overweight people who enjoy a healthy lifestyle, work out three times a week, and try their best to fuel their bodies with enriching foods...but who DON'T obsess over their size or how many pounds they would like to drop.

Where are we?

Oh well, I suppose these are both rhetorical questions, because if you have an answer, I'll be stunned.


  1. In regards to the first question, I tend to use "I'll send good vibes your way," if it's the type of thing where someone's nervous about an upcoming opportunity (test, performance, etc.) In the event that something unfortunate has already happened, I use "I'll keep you in my thoughts," but that works much better in text than it does spoken. Spoken it makes you sound like a grandparent.

    And I've got nothing for the last one. ;)

  2. I agree with Alex. I usually say "Sending good vibes/positive thougts/love & light your way" or "You'll be in my thoughts today", or "If you need anything, let me know." I know that last one can come off as a platitude, but I really do mean it when I say it. Even though I identify as agnostic, when others tell me they are praying for me during a tough time, I don't feel offended by it at all. I take it for what it is, which is an expression of care and concern.

    1. Yeah, I'm not offended by prayer offerings. I think, "Hey all the more people pulling for me, the better." But I've had some friends who do think that prayer offerings are condescending and oppressive. I have defaulted to "I'm sending all my best to you during this tough time" or something similar when I offer support.


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