We stand toe-to-toe.
Just like we did when she was a strong-willed three year old only I’m looking up at my teenager instead of the other way around. The argument has changed, but the passion and determination are the same.
I remember rubbing my hand over my swollen belly so long ago -praying that my daughter would be strong. I prayed that she wouldn’t give in to others, that she would fight for what she believed in.
All I can say is God answers prayers. Just usually not how I thought He would.
When my kids were babies I prayed I could sleep. (Very holy prayers like, “Dear God, (yawn) Zzzzz.”)
When they were toddlers, I prayed they would sleep. (“Dear God, Is it actually wrong to turn the doorknob around?”)
When they are in school, I pray for summer. Halfway through July, well, you know…
When they were little, I prayed God would get me through the exhausting moments.
Now they are bigger and I pray He gets me through the emotional ones.
When my kids make a great choice and put someone in front of themselves, my prayers become praise.
When my kids slam their doors, roll their eyes and push back, I mostly pray for me. (“Dear God, protect my children from my wrath.”)
Nothing could have prepared me for the hard prayers of motherhood.
One minute I’m beseeching God for wisdom, the next I’m telling Him I’ve got this.
One minute, I see a scary glimpse of rebellion, the next, revival.
For one child, I pray for kindness. For the other I pray for courage when kindness is absent.
For one I pray for goodness, for the other meekness when goodness is present.
And I pray for patience and self-control all the time for all of us.
I have cried over harsh words and willful behavior and we both know I’m not talking about the kids’.
I have offered prayers of thanksgiving when they offered unprompted gratitude. (“Dear God, I am doing a fabulous job here.”)
I have sat next to their bed in the middle of the night and whispered broken prayers over them.
I have wept at their loss, their pain, and begged God to fix all that I couldn’t.
I have rejoiced at their wins, their gain, and praised God in the moment.
I wrapped each of my new babies up in blankets and offered them to God on a Sunday. He gave them to me and I gave them back. And I’ve spent nearly every moment since trying to figure them out.
Lately, I have whispered the hardest prayer of all: “Dear God, Break my children. Break their heart for what breaks Yours. Do what You need to do in their heart and lives to draw them closer to You. They are yours.”
Maybe these are they hardest words a mother prays for her children? Or maybe just letting go of our illusion of control never gets easier.
But it’s this place that is my undoing: uttering these hard, gut-wrenching prayers when I don’t know what else to do.
Because I know He will answer.
All these things I pray and whisper over my children? He says them over me.
(“Come to me, Kristen. Give me that hurt, that burden, that sin. I discipline you because I love you. I break you so you will heal stronger.”)
I found Jesus when my life was wrecked.
And when the last thing a mother wants to pray over her child is chaos, so they can know peace, humility instead of pride, forgiveness instead of bitterness, joy instead of loss, it’s probably time she did.