When I hear the term ‘God Bless America’, I sometimes assume meaning behind it that may or may not be true. That it has a political posturing indicating we are the greatest nation to ever be. As a girl I traveled the world. I learned that Americans, though we can easily convince ourselves otherwise, are not the center of God’s making. Nations rise and fall.
I love my country dearly. I am an immigrant of sorts myself. Though I’ve been a U.S. citizen since birth, I’m the first generation of one side of my family to hold an American passport. I know no other story. I’m proud to be an American, as we tend to say.
In the midst of my national pride, I’ve also been grieved in the last month in a way I haven’t for a long time on behalf of my fellow citizens. I have new eyes to see my brothers and sisters do not easily experience the freedoms I enjoy without thought. I am becoming more aware of my privilege and others’ pain. So much hurt.
And it was with all of these feelings that I hung our family’s flag in front of our house this morning. I couldn’t help but pray ‘God Bless America.’
Those three words weren’t meant as a political statement about values or military policy. They were meant as an inner churning of my heart for our nation to bind together in a new way. Some of my deepest prayers don’t have words they only have feelings. If I were to try to put words to this prayer it might sound something like this:
God, we need you.
We need you in our relationships, so we can simply love one another better. Help our friendships, families, and communities be a humble reflection of your mercy. Direct our conversations to be vulnerable and safe where we hear with your ears of grace. That we have true courage to step over the boundaries that keep us apart and listen more than we speak.
We need you with our resources, so that we share them wisely and freely. Knowing every good thing comes from you and you are a God of abundance. That we become a nation known for our generosity. Our talents, our time our treasure is yours. Direct how we use all things for your glory.
We need you in our hearts. To discern where we must turn further from self and closer toward you. To see where we’ve been complacent and where we need to ask for forgiveness. We are people made to know and experience you. Help us to draw closer with every breath. Help us to have new eyes to see and ears to hear you.
God bless America.
In these ways, please bless us. We need you.