I’ve been learning to pray. How to pray. Remembering to pray. Realizing that everything is better when I pray. In our family, we’ve started to say that prayer feels like a superpower and it’s so true for us!
Last night was such a clear example. Mira was upset because she wanted her stuffed animal doggie and we have a new rule that once we’re in bed, it’s time to go to sleep and the girls can’t ask for “one more thing.” (Things were getting out of hand at bedtime: “I need my purple, fuzzy, sock…no, the one with stripes…no, the one with white stripes.” I couldn’t handle the madness; plus, I just have less patience for the crazy at bedtime.) Well, Mira was already in bed and asked for her stuffed doggie that was downstairs. I reminded her of the rule and she shot me some super feisty eyebrows as meanly as she could. Man! She could be intense sometimes (hmm…reminds me of myself…yikes!). So I got annoyed and sent her into time-out. Then I did something that I do only 20% of the time: I prayed. I thanked God for my children and my job as a parent, and then I asked for help disciplining her. What followed was a little messy but so sweet.
I asked Mira to come out of time out and she acted like a wounded animal, giving me slightly less mean eyebrows. I asked if I could just hold her and she relented, reaching out for me and letting me pick her up. I held her for a few minutes, trying to just enjoy the cuddles and diffuse both of our feelings of frustration.
Then, I told Mira a story (she loves stories) about the rich man who comes to Jesus asking what he needs to do to follow him. And Jesus says the man must give away all his possessions to the poor (I looked it up… it’s Matthew 19:21). He must give up “more” and follow Jesus. Then Mira and I had a conversation about about how giving up more is the way to honor God. And it is the way to peace and joy and freedom in a sense. We started listing the “more” we already have: friends to play with, sunshine and green grass, noses to breathe fresh air, clouds that look like dragons, a dog that licks our faces, safety, comfort, food, cuddles, squirt guns, video chat where we see our families’ beautiful faces, and more and more. And within that short time, we were both smiling about all the things we have and are thankful for.
That was the answer to my prayer. We both ended feeling the love. I was so thankful for the opportunity to respond in love rather than frustration or anger (something I work on every second of the day!). Of course, after Mira went to bed and I told her she needed to go to sleep, she asked for water. That seemed like more “more” to me and I was tired and I asked her to go to sleep and she was a little upset again. And so the cycle goes again: we’ll keep praying for help to love the best way possible AND focus on the more we already have.