One Word Prayers
“I’m sorry. I’m sorrry! I’m sorrrrry!!!”
Pete the Cat and The Case of the Missing Cupcakes played in the background as I cleaned up after dinner. Grumpy Toad cried out in an exasperated – a little too dramatic plea for forgiveness after he was caught red-handed eating all of the cupcakes.
My suds covered hand scrubbed the pot as I recalled seasons of one-worded prayers. Some seasons would last a week, others months and then the most exhaustive seasons lasted years. Many if not all of my prayers would center around one word.
There were also times of no words. It was like my brain just shut down and crickets filled the void. I had no words. Not even sure I had a pulse.
“I feel you Grumpy Toad,” I thought.
There was certainly a season of “sorry”. I’m ashamed that it lasted longer than necessary.
“Oops, sorry about that,” I said glancing up at the ceiling. Why do I always look at the ceiling when I’m talking to God? Like he is just sitting on the rafters. I sure hope I’m not the only one with this eccentric habit.
There was a season of anger. Anger towards God. Anger towards myself for not pulling it together quick enough. I’m talking. Serious. Anger. Issues.
This was followed by remorseful, repenting prayers of “I’m sorry. I’m sorrry! I’m sorrrrry!!!”
I didn’t want to feel this way, but there was no one else to blame. It was like someone switched the light off while I sat in a windowless room. Instead of feeling my way to the light switch, I sat there like a fighting mad sulking teenager who just had her phone taken away.
Obviously, this is not the kind of exemplary relationship that I encourage you to pursue with God. I never said I was a good example, but you can sure learn from my experience.
I repented. I made up and now our relationship is stronger than ever. I’m guessing that I’m not the first aggravating teenager Our Father has had to deal with. Thinking along the lines of Prodigal Son here. And my sister.
If you haven’t muttered a “why?” at some point in your life, are you even living? At some point you are going to call out “why?” even if you don’t know who you are talking to.
I’ve found the “why” seasons pop in and out through the years. Honestly, I am placed in a lot of precarious situations warranting a ton of “whys.”
One particular time, my “why?” went a little like this.
Why me? I didn’t deserve this. How could you? This wasn’t my plan! Why???
Taking another cue from my inner teenager – I laid it all out there. I wanted answers and I wanted them now. I wish I could tell you how I gracefully accepted my plight, considered it all pure joy – but I would be lying. (James 1:2-4)
I had a lot of maturing to do. It wasn’t pretty. I acted spoiled and lavished myself in self-righteousness. If anything, it was not hypocritical.
But, you know what? He’s a patient Father. He’s a forgiving Father. And a loving one. He understands that we want answers and understanding, especially when we are hurting.
It’s okay to ask why. I know you are not always guaranteed an answer. You might get an answer. You might not like said answer. Then again, it might be better than anything you could imagine!
Even if you aren’t a Biblical scholar, I’m sure you have heard the phrase “Thy will be done.” It’s in the Lord’s Prayer and Jesus pleaded for God’s will to be done in the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s also a really popular song lyric.
In a triumphant moment, I called out “thy will be done.”
Three times actually.
Through clenched teeth.
In this moment, I just wasn’t digging his will. It was no Hail Mary second. I’m not bragging or making light of it. It was a disgraceful moment and I’d rather give you all of the in-between the line moments, so you don’t think any less of yourself in vulnerable situations.
The road to sold is straight, but our human tendencies and limited understanding cause a lot of detours.
Learn from my mistakes!
God’s Will is the only way. And it is beautiful. Sometimes hard, but beautiful.
Thankfully we serve a very Gracious God. And did I mention forgiving?
After several of these foot stomping seasons, I worried what my new name could be for eternity. (Isaiah 62:2) I’m guessing Fiery, Tenacious, Peppery – I like Peppery.
Honestly, it’s a genetic malfunction inherited from my Mom. She’s an amazing loving woman, but I once described her as a “firecracker that goes off on a hot July night.” She’s just passionate. I hope her new name will be Firecracker, because it is explosively awesome! I also hope that my Mom and my sister do not read this.
Sitting on the beach one fall day, I watched the waves breathe in and out. My wild haired toddler giggled uncontrollably while chasing the seagulls. It was a beautiful day with a slight breeze and everything about the moment felt so freeing.
When will I be free? That’s what I asked.
For almost three years, I prayed for freedom. I sought freedom from doctors, therapists, and medicine. I wore my disease like shackles. I thought about freedom so much, the word showed up in my dreams.
It took me time to learn that I had the choice to be free, even in grave circumstances. I had to hand over the control to let the prison door open wide.
So keep asking. Keep praying. Even if it is the same thing for years. Be tenacious, because freedom is so worth it.
One season my car became the church. My commute became the altar I knelt at. I did a lot of talking. And singing. It was a good time. I was in a recovery phase, back to work and loving life as a family of three.
The heavy shackles of my illness had been broken for now, but I couldn’t shake some of the memories.
I wasn’t scared – just curious.
So then began the pursuit of meaning.
Why did I remember all of those people, their faces, and their stories? Why did I all of a sudden care about my past with my Dad? Why did you save me when I was given a lot of a drug that I was allergic to? Why did you wake me up?
Is there some kind of meaning to everything? What’s the meaning of life? Meaning, meaning, meaning…
This was a good prayerful season. I kept asking questions and searching deeper within myself.
And then I found it...
It was graffiti.
Halfway through my commute over the water, the word “meaning” had been illegally painted on the front of a utility box. I never noticed it, because it was hidden with reeds. The mowing crew had come through and now the very word I had been praying for months stared at me.
The cross is crooked. That was my only thought. Most would see an ‘x’ painted on top of the letter ‘i’. To me, it looked like a crooked cross.
For years, I imagined this blissful season of new motherhood. Two months into this new season, my world turned upside down and so did the bliss I had once dreamed.
And for six long months, I struggled.
There were times the devil got the best of me. Depression. Insomnia. Anxiety. PTSD.
He stole from me. He stole happiness. He stole rest. He stole time. He stole my picture-perfect story.
And I wanted it back. I prayed for a redo over and over -- anticipating a supernatural rewind and then restart. I figured at any minute, Michael J. Fox would pull up in the DeLorean.
He never showed and time marched forward.
Looking back after the fog lifted, I see all of the good in the year my first son was born. I was fortunate enough to experience bonding. There was singing under the fan breeze on the back porch. His favorite song was “Itsy Bitsy” and he would stop crying immediately when he heard it. Stroller rides, monthly pictures and plenty of firsts.
He trekked through his milestones, always with a big ole’ smile. And I trekked towards recovery, albeit slower than I wanted.
Time marched forward.
Eventually I made peace with what happened to me. Hard things just happen. I found contentment and happiness. I learned to slow things down.
I forgot all about those Redo prayers. He didn’t though.
And one Fat Tuesday, my Redo arrived.
He has blonde curly hair, a contagious smile, and blue green eyes with the sun in them – just like his big brother.