Archive | February 2017

How long should I keep praying?

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There’s something I’ve been praying for a very long time … if you consider six years a long time. It certainly seems like forever when you pray for the same thing nearly every day.

Toward the end of last year, I was getting discouraged. Truth be told, I’ve been discouraged on and off throughout the past six years, but it was really coming to a head last fall. Over and over, I heard Psalm 13 in my head: “How long, Lord?”

It was around the same time I kept coming across messages on the persistence of prayer—on the radio, in devotions at work and in the devotional messages I was reading on my phone. Just last month, I read a particularly encouraging post about waiting on Boundless.org.

OK, I’ll be persistent, I thought. But for how long? When should I stop praying about it?

I wondered if maybe God had already given me an answer but I just didn’t realize it and kept praying in vain. I wondered if He was trying to change me instead of the circumstances, but, I reasoned, even if I change, the situation has to change, too. It has to. It’s too toxic, too destructive.

This can’t possibly be His will long-term. … Can it?

I know God’s answers aren’t always what I expect. Sometimes He answers no. Sometimes He says wait. Those are valid answers, too. It’s not just “an answer to prayer” when I get what I want.

On the other hand, the Bible doesn’t endorse giving up.

So how do I persist without begging? How do I approach God in confidence without questioning His will?

I always come back to this: God is God and I am not.

I trust that He’s smarter than I am. If He wasn’t, He wouldn’t be much of a God. He knows why things happen, whether we understand them or not, and as Creator of the world, has every right to operate in His own time. Who are we to argue with that?

I know my prayers aren’t falling on deaf ears. I know I’m not praying to an imaginary presence in the sky. I’m praying to the God who knew me before I was born. The God who calls me by name and whose presence lives in my very soul.

I also know through experience all the many ways He has answered me in the past. I have emails to friends and page after page in my prayer journal to prove it.

And so, after six years of praying for this particular thing, I’m still praying. Yes, I’ve taken brief breaks now and again when I’ve grown tired of praying for the same thing, but I always come back to it, hoping and believing I’ll someday hear a “yes.” Maybe I’m wrong, or maybe it’s just not time yet.

Has there ever been a time when you were ready to give up on praying for a certain thing? What did you do?

 

Conversations with Emily

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There are 16 years between me and my sister. I was a freshman in college when she turned 2.

With such a big age gap (my brother claiming the middle spot seven years behind me), Emily and I have a lot of interesting conversations. Two years ago, I posted this on Facebook:


If you haven’t talked to a 12-year-old girl on the phone lately, this is what it’s like, courtesy of my sister:

On math

Me: “Do you like math?”
Emily: “I have mixed feelings about it. I like it when I get the answers right.”

On revealed secrets

Emily: “I like unicorns.”
Me: “I used to have a diary with a unicorn on it.”
Emily: “I know.”
Me: “What? … What do you mean you know?”
Emily: “…”
Me: “Did you read my diary?”
Emily: “Yes! Hahahahahahahaha!”

On watching My Little Pony

Emily: “I’ve seen all the *psssshhhhhhhh* episodes on Netflix.”
Me: “You what?”
Emily: “I’ve seen *pssshhhh* My Little Pony *psssshhh*”
Me: “I can’t hear you; you’re muffled.”
Emily: “Oh wait, let me change my position. I’m upside down.”

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Just last week, I had another fun conversa … well, really I was listening in on a monologue. Emily is 14 now and a freshman in high school.

On boys

“I have boy problems. There’s this guy named Ben who messaged me on Instagram and asked if he could eat lunch with me. I didn’t even know who he was! … He doesn’t have any pictures of himself on Instagram, but he said he sits near me in lunch in the blue hoodie. And I was like, ‘Oh, Lord, he’s the one who’s hunched over.’ … I asked my friend to sit next to me at lunch so he couldn’t sit there.”

“Then my friend Dillon, he’s super muscular now. He was showing me his calf muscle and it looks really weird. It looks like a plateau! Uuuuggghhh!”

On gym class

“We have to run around and I always get sweaty. I don’t know what to wear!”

On school in general

“We have to make a PowerPoint about zombies for Career Exploration. It fits into the lesson somehow.”

“Mr. Ford is my history and geography teacher and he’s really cute. I think it’s because some of his family is French. He kinda looks like an elf. To me, elves are really cute.”

In response to my phone call to double check the above facts

“Are you blogging about my life?”

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Calendar flip flop

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I’m obsessed with flipping my calendar.

Yesterday morning, I was itching to flip it to February even though February was still a day away. The same urge crops up every last day of the month, so I’m constantly fighting the temptation.

Am I alone in this?

I think the obsession goes along with my love for planners and office supplies. I like to be organized, prepared and accurate, so being in the right month is pretty important. I’ve even been known to flip others’ calendars if they’re a day behind. (That I blame on being the oldest child.)

It’s like when you’re a kid and want to grow up ASAP. When you’re older, you can stay up late. When you’re older, you can have your own phone. When you’re older, you can drive and eat what you want and sit at the grownup table.

As a kid, you want to get there as quickly as possible, but once you’re there, you often wish you were a kid again—and that you had fully appreciated childhood when you were in it.

Sometimes I’m in such a rush to get to the next phase that I don’t fully enjoy what’s in front of me. It’s great to look forward to things ahead, but if I’m so focused on what’s happening a month from now or next year, I can miss the now moments. I may be so eager to begin a new day or month or season or chapter in life that I’m not reveling in today.

I admit I’ve wished for a difficult day to be over, but even in the tough times, I can find small things to be grateful for or take time to grieve or learn from mistakes instead of wishing the day would hurry up and be done already.

Older and wiser folks have told me how time seems to speed up with each passing year, and there’s no going back. Today is the only Feb. 1, 2017, there is, so I might as well make the most of it.

Besides, March will be here soon enough.