Updated: Jun 28
In the African American community prayer is supposed to solve everything. It’s similar to how drinking water will solve everything in the military. Hey drill sergeant, I have a headache…”drink water”, hey drill sergeant, the ammo box dropped on my foot and I think my foot is broken…”drink water”, hey drill sergeant, my battle buddy accidently stabbed me in the arm with his bayonet…”drink water”. In the African American community prayer is supposed to have the same healing powers.
When I got out of the military and returned home I spent a lot of time with family. I spend lots of time with my grandma, “big mama” in most African – American families. I talked to her about the Iraq and some of the things I had to do over there. When confiding in her she told me “boy you need to go to church and pray”. So…that’s what I did.
I would go to church and pray long and hard. I even joined the praise team and sung songs that would bring tears to the congregation. However, when I went home I would still have tears in my eyes. Something wasn’t right, but I thought I just needed to pray harder. So I carried a bible with me everywhere I went and would remember scriptures to help guide me through certain situations.
My family helped start the church that we prayed at so faithfully every Sunday. There a famous gospel song that is one of my favorite to sing. There is a verse in the song that says “Jesus is my doctor and he writes out all my prescriptions”. My prescription was bible study on Wednesday, then on Sundays get to church to drive the church van at 9am, choir rehearsal at 10am, then church at 11am.
This prescription turned out to be a placebo in my life. I thought to myself “praying about my pain will make it all go away”. I didn’t want to disappoint my grandmother or my mom so I lied about my depression and my PTSD. My grandmother would give me that sweet smile and say “see God works miracles baby”. Honestly, during this time the only miracle is that I hadn’t killed myself yet.
Feeling suicidal and actually scared to be in the house by myself one day I walked into the VA. I told them everything that I had been dealing with and they sprang into action. I was taking part in group therapy, taking my medication as prescribed, and feeling like a human being once again. More than that, I was happier than ever to go back into church and sing alongside my mother.
There is power in prayer. However, in the African American community it is relied upon too heavily to heal things that modern medicine and therapy can take care of. There aren’t many African American combat veterans in the United States. We need to be encouraged to seek professional medical help if we need it. Many, many lives can be saved if our community encourages us to get help.