There is Never Shame in Praying

It began with Paris, at least that is when I first heard it.  A devastating, deadly, attack resulted in a #PrayeringforParis and #PrayeringforFrance responses all around the social media globe.  That was the first time I heard someone shame the offering of prayers in such a blatant and public way.  As more atrocities have occurred, the prayers and the criticism of prayers has continued.  #PrayingforSanBernardino has been the most recent.

For those who are criticizing our prayers, I can only assume that you don’t understand what that really means.  It’s not simple, but for many of us a very complex set of prayers.  Prayers where we are recognizing that the depravity of man is getting worse, and we need a greater solution.  Prayers of compassion, sympathy, and empathy for the family members who are mourning the loss.  Praying for a community that has been affected deeply.

Who is praying?

A lot of people.  Different religions.  Different political beliefs.  We may not agree on the same God, or lean more liberal or conservative… but we recognize pain, suffering, and the need for something more drastic.

My Christian friend who is pro-choice is praying for San Bernardino, another Christian friend who wants a total lock down in the arena of gun control is too.

My Christian friend who wants the government to butt out our personal affairs, and equality for all genders, races, and orientations …. she is praying too.

Those who sit home and “do nothing” are praying, and in many cases it is the only thing they can do in a time like this.  No matter what changes we are in the progress of making, that doesn’t stop what happened already.  In times of tragedy, crisis, and upheaval we need the people that will stand up… but we also need those who can help the wounded heal.   The warrior and the nurse.   The leader and the friend.

Do you know who else is praying, those who have gotten up and walked the walk.  Those who have protested for better gun control, or more safety measures in place.  Those who want to open the doors to refugees and those who want them closed, they are both praying.

There are those who batted with swords and guns, others who battle with words and ideas.  For many of the devout (of any religion), they battle in their places of worship and in their prayers.  You may see this as inactivity, because it isn’t something that you understand.   But, let’s not assume.  Let’s not assume that a person who is offering up their prayers is someone who isn’t actively working to make change in the world.

Would we question the prayers of Mother Theresa?   Would we dare question the prayers of Martin Luther King?  Do we question the prayers of our service men and women, home and abroad?  Do we question the prayers of those political leaders or agents of change, that sincerely want to make a better world?

I will pray, and I am not sorry if that offends you.  And, I am going to pray for people… whether they want me to or not.

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#Write31Days – Post 10 – The Worry of a Mom

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I have three beautiful arrows in my quiver.  I adore my daughters, but I can’t help … much like many a mother … getting caught in moments of worry.

The first time I worried, I was still pregnant with our first.  What if something happens to me while I am pregnant?  My request to my husband was to chose the baby over me.  It is amazing how quickly a selfish woman can become selfless… all from a little pink plus sign in the window of a plastic stick.

The worries continued to build after she was born.  Who could I trust to baby sit her?  What if she got an illness?  What if I was in a car accident, and I was unconscious… would someone help her?  Would someone take her?

When she was school aged, I remember the first time I waited in the parent pick up lane and she was no where to be seen.  My heart was leaping into my throat, while she was totally unaware of my panic as she walked slowly back from the classroom to the outside waiting area.   She had forgotten her lunch box.

It’s been sixteen years, three daughters, and panic still will strike.  My middle school aged daughter is usually one of the first three kids out the doors at the end of the day.  Just a few days ago panic would strike as I watched the number of kids waiting dwindle, and she hadn’t walked through the doors.  She had forgotten her flute.

I can’t completely stop the what if panic attacks from happening, we live in a world where media likes to remind us daily of everything that can happen to our kids.  However,  I no longer let those moments have the debilitating power they once held.

Many years ago, a friend of mine shared with me that her son was going on his first trip with his father out of state.  Her marriage was an abusive one that ended in divorce, but the courts had given him unsupervised visitation of their son.  She had attempted to keep him from being able to take their out of the state, but ultimately the court didn’t agree with her.  As she shared this with me, I could feel my own emotions as a mother starting to boil.  I tried to think of the hundred ways she could keep this from happening.  Yet, she seemed really calm.

“I have to trust the Lord with my son, Gena.  He isn’t mine, he belongs to God.  God can bring him home when ever He chooses.”

Let me assure you, all the air escaped from my lungs as I gasped at the words that came out of her mouth.

Even today, as I type these words… I am still in blown away by her words.  Do not mistake that she wasn’t worried about her son’s welfare.  She knew what her ex-husband was capable of doing.  She also knew that God was more than capable of protecting her son from his father.  She also trusted that if God would take her son, that His ways were not her ways.  She wouldn’t understand it, not from a human mothers perspective… but would trust that God’s plan was bigger and better than her own.

TO HAVE THAT FAITH!

In the years since, I have begun to understand it more.  I understood it when I was staring out the sliding glass doors of our apartment, rubbing my pregnant belly, as tears ran down my face.  In my routine testing precancerous cells were found in my uterus and cervix, I was also pregnant.  I was being faced with a procedure that might affect the pregnancy.  My husband patted my arms and said “God wouldn’t give you this baby just to take it from you.”

I replied:  “God may have given us this baby just to save my life.”

It wasn’t that I didn’t grieve over the thought of losing my baby, but that I accepted that His ways are not my ways.  You see, I was really behind in getting my annual exams done.  Had I not gotten pregnant, I wouldn’t have gone to the doctor… not until symptoms presented themselves.  At which point it would have meant that I was dealing with Cancer… not precancerous cells.

Being on the cusp of potentially losing a child certainly has made me appreciative of the three lives God has entrusted to me.  I do my best as a mom to make the best decisions in raising them.  I have moments where I am absolutely terrified, when they get hurt or take too long exiting the school.  I can’t relax until all my kids are home where they should be.  Even something as simple as seeing a police car too close to the school can be enough to make my imagination run wild.

It is impossible as a parent to NOT worry about your child.  But, I have chosen to not be crippled by that fear.

When I was little, a child had been abducted from a mall a few hours south of us.  Unfortunately, he was not recovered alive.  This had a profound affect on my mother, who did everything in her power to ensure that we were never in the position for something like that to happen.  When other kids walked home from elementary school, I was picked up by my grandmother.  I was in 8th grade before I could stay home alone after school, but my grandmother still picked me up from the bus stop that was only a few streets away.  Every day, through my senior year of high school, I would call my mother when I returned home from school to let her know I was safely there.

My mother was terrified of what could happen.  Because of that, there were a lot of things I missed out on as a child.  I am not blaming my mom, because now as a mother myself… I TOTALLY GET IT.  Not to mention, my mother was doing the whole parenting thing alone.  There wasn’t a second set of eyes keeping an eye on us.

Today, I am able to find a balance between being concerned, vigilant, and watchful… at the same time as allowing the kids some freedom to do what kids do.  I’ve stopped worrying about car accidents too.  In part, because my children are older versus being infants.  Also, because I have taught them what to do,  included safety cards in the glove box with their information & who to contact in case of an emergency.

The most important part, is that I have surrendered my children to God.

This is why I can send my children to public school every day without being in a constant state of worry over mass shootings, bullying, or whatever other thing that might cross my mind.  I am an involved parent, I have taken the time to understand the policies of the school, put in an effort of being communicative with the teachers and staff, I pray for their safety, and I trust that God’s word is true…

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified

because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you;

he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6

I relieve my worries by:

  • Doing everything within my power to ensure the safety of my kids.  Through educating them and myself.  Talking over safety measures, being mindful and watchful, being prepared and having plans in place.
  • Praying over my children, their schools, our community, and the world at large.  I pray for safety, wisdom, and discernment.  I openly rebuke evil impacting their lives and surroundings.  Which means when I am praying for the protection of my kids… I am praying for the protection of all the kids with them.
  • When the worries or panic come, I call on the Lord.  I find peace in His promises and I do not let my fears overwhelm me.  It’s ok to OWN the worry, acknowledging it… then let it go.  I am far better prepared to deal with an emergency if I haven’t allowed myself to build up into a state of panic.