What You Pray For

Posted by on 05.24.07 | 3 Comments
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Doesn’t the old adage say, “Be careful what you pray for”? I believe the unexpressed part of that statement is–”Because you might get it.”

Perhaps if I had been praying for a new Audi, a refinished living room, thinner thighs and no further visits to the periodontist, my prayers would have been answered in a safer, less challenging manner. But instead I prayed, “God, let me serve you.”

And God, in her infinite wisdom, answered me, but not quite in the way I anticipated, certainly not in a cozy bake-cookies-for-the-church sort of way, or call-a-friend-in-need way. This is what happened.

My daughter’s best friend at school has just been kicked out of her house in the cruelest way possible, and for the flimsiest of reasons. Without giving away too many personal details, this girl is currently living with us. Where else would she go? Some friend’s lumpy couch or the streets?

What could we do but say, “yes”? But that yes–like Mary’s “yes” to the Angel Gabriel–entails a lot of labor, heartache, and work. For this girl needs particular care and support and nurturing, after recent years of rejecting parenting. And I use the word “parenting” very loosely.

What does it mean to sit down to supper with a Dad and a Mom and an almost-sister? What does it mean to have your surrogate Mom actually make you breakfast in the morning, instead of leaving you on your own? What does it mean to have that fill-in Mom or Dad ask at the end of your day, “How did it go for you, honey? Did you have a good day?” What does it mean to have that fill-in family take your interests seriously for a change, and sign you up for guitar lessons, letting you leave the High School which grated on you like a sharp file, and letting you, instead, try alternative and home schooling which better suit your needs, rhythms, and intelligence?

It means a lot, I am sure of that. But I also suspect that nothing we do–no matter how well-intentioned, no matter how nurturing–will ever quite make up for this mother’s cruel rejection and neglect. I suspect that is a wound which will need to be healed by intensive therapy, but also by the balm of Gilead.

And so I hear her singing the song from “Shrek 2,” Halleluia, halleluiah, in the most gorgeous soprano voice. This is not the Halleluiah of the Bible; it is something darker, edgier, and much more in tune with this girl’s internal life.

I can only hope that with time, care, and a different living situation, some day this talented, wonderful young woman will be able to sing a Halleluiah which will come from a place of rest and healing in her life.

And for me? I am going to be much more careful what I pray for.

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