As I sat down to write today I thought about all the things in my life I’ve dreamed of, fought for, and persevered through. Deep thoughts for a Sunday afternoon y’all. I’ve had this post written in bits and pieces, for a while now, but hadn’t finished up portions of it that I felt were missing, but couldn’t quite get the words to come together.
This year I set out on a mission to reclaim my reading time. As a mom, I felt like I lost that in between having babies. The schedule you keep is insane and your pillow is for sleep, not for reading back support in bed – at least these days.
In saying that, I have always loved reading and knew I’d come back to it at some point. Writing and reading – they feed one another in this symbiotic relationship. On average, I’ll start between 3-6 books around the same time. Sometimes I want to grab 3 at a time and dive in because each is so uniquely good.
Each with their own stories and aha moments. The last book I finished was on prayer. Some call it meditation. You might pray to a God, many gods, or no God at all, but our souls are in constant prayer.
It’s our deepest desire, the drive that we have in each of us that pushes us towards hope in moments when we can’t see the destinations end.
My prayers are personal. They usually aren’t for anyone to hear. Sometimes they’re written as reminders to pray-thru requests, joys, and heartaches – for people’s hurts and circumstances we can’t control. The core of prayer for me is a request for communication or response back. Like an S.O.S. from my soul.
For some, prayer is nothing but ritualistic spirituality. I get how people could see it as that. I would respond with the idea that each of our hearts, whether consciously or subconsciously, are engaging in that act all the time. We can all call it something different, feel that it’s silly or useless, that’s it’s hot air coming from the uber-spiritual in the room. We might not even acknowledge it, but it’s there. It’s hardwired into our beings because we all desire to be known; to be loved.
What would happen if we all recognized that our souls desire something good, something beautiful, and those something’s cling to a hope of them coming true. Prayer. Hard work, passion, drive – those acts seek to activate a type of communication between our hopes and creation of our reality. I believe these are tangible responses to our hearts ‘prayers.’
So what happens when the answers to the things we desire, don’t look like what we asked for?
This has been hands down, the biggest challenge in my life.
For me, most of the things I’ve hoped and prayed for in my life have been miraculously better than I could have envisioned in my mind. So you might think, “Well that’s great, Lisa. Everything worked out just beautifully for you, but that’s not how it is for me.”
But, I didn’t say things in my life have worked out beautifully. Nope, I said miraculously better than I could have envisioned.” The answers all looked different.
There are pieces of my story and my journey that are definitely anything by beautiful. In fact, there are pieces that are too much to handle all in one story telling session.
I have prayed against negative things happening, but they’ve happened.
I’ve prayed for a specific person to be removed, and they’ve stayed.
I’ve prayed for oppression to be lifted and it got worse.
I’ve even put deadlines on God and thought about tapping the microphone a few times and asking “Is this thing on?”
So what the heck is prayer really for then? Why even do it when you get those types of answers? Those are usually my first two responses. We could make the nice statement, “We’re thankful for unanswered prayers.” However, we all know that’s seldom true. Who really hopes their prayers won’t be answered?
I believe what people are trying to get out of their hearts with that type of thought process is the fact that the prayer has been answered, but it looks completely different than expected.
Is it not the biggest challenge to pray for something, but not predetermine the answer we’re going to get?
Over the years I’ve felt a tugging on my heart to not ask those 2 questions for as long as I use to. I still ask them, because stuff gets real. It sucks and I don’t think we’re meant to not question. Question away! Allowing ourselves to do that – to get frustrated or disappointed, even angry, is actually pretty great. I believe that’s why prayer exists – it’s an outlet from our souls. Sometimes it’s thankful. Sometimes it’s not at the moment.
It’s the stuffing it down and ignoring our feelings that gets us.
Just don’t dwell there. Dwelling there is not where we’re meant to stay. Not because you shouldn’t, but because we miss out on the reality that we’ve received an answer – It just looks different. The other reality: the answer to the prayer might not be immediate. It might come 15 years later. When you can look back and have the “Oh, I see now. Wow.”
The answer might have been wearing a different dress (who cares if it was blue, gold, white or black). It might have been a quieter victory than I had envisioned. It might have been soul crushing or a painstakingly difficult path to take, to get to a place I didn’t even know existed. Freedom.
It was grace denied, so that in the future that grace would be supplied when it was needed.
The path I would have wanted to take was one of least resistance. Let’s be honest. Who wants to sign up for hard days? Not me. I would want the road that as less embarrassing or dramatic. The one that knew less, ignored more, and was just ‘okay’ with status quo.
Had I stuck to that path, I believe my life would still be good.
For me, the prayer element changed the dynamic of my responses to the obstacles I didn’t see coming. The paths that had ground continually shifting under my feet. It wasn’t until that ground was fully tilled and the seeds were sown, that the crop, the one I didn’t even know I was planting through my tears, was ready to be harvested.
And that harvest is much more abundant than anything I would have ever seen coming.
It’s answered prayers in masquerade masks.