TL;DR: I’m looking to find any prayers or prayer adjacent texts from the point of view of somebody who is sick or disabled. I’m especially looking for something that will focus on being compassionate with oneself and one’s physical limitations, excepting and understanding that I was created this way with intention, and though I may not understand the reason, I need to appreciate what I have and take better care of it.
So short story long, I grew up in a traditional conservative shul to which my mother still belongs. When I spend yomtovim with her, I often go to services with her, as I did for Yom Kippur. The shul is still Conservative, but the definition of that has shifted in a direction that I’m not crazy for, but I’ve known these people most of my life.
Over the last several months, I’ve been having all kinds of fun medical mystery symptoms. We suspect it’s something autoimmune, and the really noteworthy ones are pain and fatigue. I had planned to go to shacharis on Yom Kippur, but woke up in really bad shape. And I was getting very angry, feeling very embittered about it, just really hating my body. I mean, it’s not like I’ve ever taken the greatest care of it, but it’s the only one I’ve got, so why is it betraying me?
And then I got to thinking a bit more clearly.
Yes, my body is flawed. I feel very weak and sick and in pain a lot of the time. We don’t know quite what’s going on yet, and I’m trying to get answers but it’s a long and arduous process, exacerbated by the fact that I’m an overweight woman and all too often I get told, “if you lose more weight it will help.” Not going there now as that’s a whole nother soapbox 😉 but we are taught that we were created in HaShem’s image.
Okay, so I’m a much later copy, one that has gotten a bit faded and there’s a lot of noise, lots of spots and Speckles and things that make the copy a bit harder to read. But I’m still a copy, I’m still created in that image, I was made this way for a reason. And if I am angry at my body, then I am angry at HaShem. If I mistreat my body, it’s no different than me mistreating HaShem. I have to believe that there’s a reason that I’m going through this. This was intentional, this was my design. I may not like it, I may not appreciate it, but I can’t be hostile toward it because it’s counterproductive. I’m starting to take more steps toward fixing it, and toward working around my limitations, instead of railing at them.
The siddur and the machzor used in this shul have a lot of sidebar prayers, poems and meditations and things like that, many of which are to me kind of hokey sounding or over the top or whatever, but they try to explore different perceptions. Like the yizkor service has a thing for someone who is dealing with the memory of a lost parent where the relationship was emotionally complicated.
That started me wondering if there is a prayer or psalm or something that takes this perspective. Is there something that I can read and consider, because I would like to know if there’s already something out there, that addresses this feeling, this fear, this anger, and this hope? Is there something out there that says, “I know You made my body this way for Reasons, and so I can only stand before You in my heart, but I stand before You with a whole heart, and I’m trying to do my best to be the best me I can be even though I feel like who done it and ran. And I want You to know that I appreciate You and I appreciate the way You made me, and I ask forgiveness for those moments of emotional weakness.”
I apologize for how long this got, but it’s been on the forefront of my mind for the last couple of days. I still want to write something for myself, but if there’s already something out there, I would love to know.