Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lessons in Prayer from a Three-Year-Old

A couple of nights ago, I was in the middle of the endless bedtime routine. Seriously, the child has a knack for elongating it somehow. What started out as bath, story, prayers, bed has turned into bath, pretend monster chase, movie, story-telling, song, prayer, drink of water, medicine, repeat those last five steps with Dad. Then several rounds of her last-ditch-efforts, in which she comes out of her room and interrupts something very important like Downton Abbey or Walking Dead, and requires that we kiss a hurting fingernail or something equally urgent and then walk her back to bed.
Essentially, it's a small miracle every night that she falls a sleep.
Where was I? Oh yes, we were mid-bedtime-battle and about to say prayers. I started, "Dear God," and noticed she chimed in with me when we said, "Thank you for..." I paused to see what she would say. She immediately got shy and said she couldn't remember.
Me: It's ok. You can say anything. You can be thankful to God for anything.
Cate: Ok. God, thank you for Grandma and balloons... and all my family and paper and crayons and Eli and Morgan and dinosaurs and food. And BIRTHDAYS!
Me: Amen.

I can't get this conversation out of my head. If I am completely honest, I would have to say that my faith has been floundering a bit. It seems like hard life stuff is happening to everyone I know. That's silly, of course it is- that's kind of the way life works. But, since I'm being really completely honest, my faith is floundering because hard life stuff is happening to me! I can be selfish that way. The fertility treatments, miscarriage, and other health issues are suddenly screwing up my life plan and have left me wondering where God is in all of this.
I've found myself either praying angrily or giving Him the silent treatment. And when I feel like actually praying, for real this time, I don't know where to start. I am shy and self-conscious like my daughter. And I am reminded of what I said to her. "It's ok. You can say anything. (Even angry things.) But you can also be thankful."
So, I am thankful. For family. Balloons. Friends who feel like family. Paper and ink pens that feel like silk in the hands. Eli and Morgan and Cate. Dinosaurs and food (especially coffee and red wine). And birthdays. (Though I'm not sure that I'm quite as excited about those as my daughter.) For wisdom, once more, through the eyes of a child.
Amen.

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