Everyday we all operate out of internal constructs that tell us how life works and how we should live. We have been taught through life experiences, through other people, through education, and many other influences, that this is how things are. For example, if someone has continuously had people hurt them - parents, friends, lovers - they learn in their mind and heart that people cannot be trusted, and they begin operating out of this idea. They close their hearts to love, keep others at arms length, and assume that only they can take care of and provide for themselves.
There is definitely a danger when these narratives in our lives are false. We usually end up hurting ourselves or others, and rob ourselves of the fullness of life we could have. In my own life changing these false ideas has been often difficult, but always worth it in the end. Sometimes the realization that I am living out of an incorrect view of things is a long uncovering process in my heart, and other times it takes mere seconds to recognize a false narrative for what it is and adopt a new perspective. Lately I have experienced this a few times, and I want to explore here how these things are being redefined.
Prayer. How do we pray? What do we pray for? I have to admit, like most people I know in the Christian community, it is very easy to pray and ask God to do things for me. God, please make it not rain on that day we have an outdoor event. God, please help me do well on my test. God, please help us drive safely as we travel. God, please make my baby sleep.
Please make my baby sleep – this is the prayer I was about to pray a few weeks ago when Jordyn was having a really rough day. But as I was sitting there, holding her, it struck me that she is a baby. And babies cry. And cry. And do not always sleep well. I cannot expect that every time she is cranky, I can pray, and God will make her sleep.
So I started to think about what I pray for, and what I should pray for. There is a big difference between asking God to do something for me, and seeking His presence within my life and circumstances. When Jordyn is not sleeping and crying, I can pray for His presence, for patience, for His love – that goes beyond our understanding – to fill me so that I can endure these hard moments.
In the end I prayed for wisdom. God, give me wisdom to know what is best for my daughter in every situation. Wisdom to know when to gently hold her and soothe her, or when to walk away and take a breather. God, give me your heart for her, that I can love her and care for her the way that You love and care for us. I know there are going to be lots of hard moments – being a parent, but in all of life too. God is not going to fix them all, because that’s not what it is about. God is much more about relationship than quick fixes or instant answers. So now I often pray for wisdom, inner strength, love, patience, and most of all an awareness of His presence in me each moment.