Praying through Parenthood

Our sermon today is about a young woman who did what she had to do to protect her infant son. It’s a good story, but it’s not the one I want to tell. I want to tell you about when I became a mother.

I was so happy when I found out I was pregnant, and somehow I just knew it was a girl! All I had ever wanted, all I could ever picture myself with was a daughter. I didn’t breathe a word of this to anyone, but deep inside, I knew.

And then, we went for the ultrasound appointment and I really knew. It really was a baby girl! I laughed and cried all at once from the joy. And then in the car on the way home – I was blindsided by terror. Sheer terror. My stomach was hollow and my heart was beating through my chest. My mouth was dry; I didn’t speak. “I have to protect her!” was all I could think. You see, when I was very small, an adult I trusted did something really bad to me. Something that adults should never, ever do to children. This bad thing wasn’t a secret anymore. I had told someone and I let them help me, and I let God help me, and I had found peace and healing. But now, I was feeling that old wound in a completely different way – as a mother. And I was just paralyzed with fear.

Y’all, I just couldn’t pray. I tried. For so many days, I would start to pray and then my mouth was a desert and my mind was a tornado and my emotions were a thunderstorm. The only thing that seemed to help was The Lord’s Prayer – more specifically, the first line of the prayer. “Our Father, who art in heaven.” I prayed these six words over and over again, all day, every day and especially anytime I felt the panic creeping up. Bedtime was the worst! “Our Father, who art in heaven…our Father, who art in heaven…” And eventually I would sleep. Little by little, as I turned my mind and heart to the Father, the times of peace would last longer, and the times of terror would disappear sooner.

My daughter is four years old now. I wish I could tell you that I have been a paragon of peace and wisdom ever since those days, but alas…I cannot. I can tell you that I believe God is good, and He loves us. I can tell you that the horrible things that happen to the innocent ones are not from God. I can tell you that I am still a little too anxious and watchful at times, and on the hardest days, those walled-in survivalist compounds have a strange appeal. Nevertheless, I have chosen to really live in this world and to allow my daughter to really live in it as well. Because if we hide from the brokenness, who wins? If we don’t go out and shine our light, then won’t the darkness just get stronger?

I can’t protect my daughter perfectly. I can’t be everywhere, all the time. My everything may not be enough. But as it turns out, my everything is still an awful lot, and I’m not giving up anytime soon.

–X

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