Picture it: Georgia, August 2015. She was the smallest one waiting for the bus that first day, standing with the other “seasoned” bus riders. I tried to talk to friends, but mostly I was working to keep from imploding. My Naomi was entering kindergarten and this would be her first time on the bus. I hugged her hard, watched her climb those big stairs with her little legs. Waving maniacally (sorry, not sorry), I was that weirdo mom with her hand still outstretched as the bus disappeared.
I remember being five. It was awkward and nervous, quiet and a little fearful, happy but guarded. Those memories came flooding back that warm August morning, so I prayed. I prayed fervently for safety, that there’d be no meanies, that she wouldn’t be nervous without me. I prayed that she’d easily find her class, that she wouldn’t get pushed around by older kids, that she wouldn’t get hurt, or miss me too much. I prayed her teacher would be gentle so my girl wouldn’t be overwhelmed. I prayed she wouldn’t spill her lunch or get lost. I prayed these almost daily for five months.Fast forward to about January of 2016. Not so little, Naomi handled the bus with ease. She had confidence, was thriving, her writing was amazing, she was a reading wiz, and I was so proud. And I also felt so uneasy. Looking back over the year, I realized I’d received exactly what I’d prayed for and I was grateful. Mama bear wanted nonstop goodness and safety and ease for my girl. I wanted to wrap her in the world’s longest sheet of bubble wrap, but my heart was overcome with a much bigger burden.
In 2015 I chose the word “intimacy” as my word of the year and as God slowly gave me that, my heart wanted to radically serve others more. I was starting to more clearly see the image of God in strangers, neighbors, foreigners, family. But I also wanted my kids to marvel at God’s beloved. As 2015 ended, I learned if I sheltered myself (and my girls) from everything, we wouldn’t be able to get dirty in the trenches of life and really change hearts. It was time to rearrange my prayers.
For 2016 I chose the word “fearless” and I was determined to pray the same for my girl. It was/is hard. Almost painful to pray. Did I trust God with her life? Would I trust Him to be there when she got hurt? Because seriously, you get out there in the midst of humanity and you get hurt, you get dirty, you make mistakes, have conflict. I started praying she’d be an encouragement, helpful and loving to everyone no matter who they were. I prayed she would lean on God and His word in every situation, that she’d absorb and use what she learned at home and church. I prayed she’d seek God’s approval most and that when conflict came, she’d be fearless. HARD PRAYERS.
The safety, the grades, the nonstop smiles – that’s comfy and I do pray for those but they aren’t top priority because it’s not what people need. Loving our neighbor, laying down our lives… yeah, those prayers. It’s so hard, friends, but the rewards are immeasurable. And the joy? Without comparison. It’s still hard for me to pray those big, sometimes scary prayers. But God’s working. He’s faithful.
I had an impromptu meeting with her teacher in May to go over the upcoming summer. That meeting quickly turned into a deluge of answered prayers. I found out there were kids with no friends until Naomi included them. A few kids could read because she taught them, one on one. There were frustrated and struggling kids she helped and encouraged and they were succeeding. I was told she always showed kindness, she discouraged derogatory talk,she was patient with even the slowest in her class. I was in tears.
Thing is, it sounds heavenly for my kids to have perfect grades, perfect friends, all the smiles. But I’m learning what I’d love even more is for them to be kind and patient, unselfish, uplifting, to be a good friend and an advocate for those that need one. To help, to fight for good, to truly love like Christ – those are my prayers now. The safety, the grades, the nonstop smiles – that’s comfy and I do pray for those but they aren’t top priority because it’s not what people need. Loving our neighbor, laying down our lives… yeah, those prayers. It’s so hard, friends, but the rewards are immeasurable. And the joy? Without comparison. It’s still hard for me to pray those big, sometimes scary prayers. But God’s working. He’s faithful.
As we go into a new school year, I ask you… could you petition God to help you start the big, Kingdom-changing prayers? Crack that door open a little, you’ll see how trustworthy He is.
A Mother’s Prayer
God, you gifted us with these precious young lives that we want to hold close and protect. Help us to remember, though, they belong to you and are here for the same purpose we are — to bring your Kingdom to others. Thank you for the chance to do that. Amen.
What is your big, hard, scary prayer for your daughter right now?
This was originally posted on August 10, 2016 on the Prayers for Girls website.