Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Wise Guy Who Said "Prayer Doesn't Change God, It Changes Us" Might Have Been Right

I'm sitting at the dining room table, watching Charlie cover his sweet cheeks with the last licks of a chocolate-vanilla swirl pudding cup, wondering if an extra dose of chocolate and another cup of coffee can miraculously make me as blissfully cheerful as he is.

C'mon pudding, work your magic.

At the wise ol' age of 2.5 weeks, Joseph thinks the perfect time to sleep at night is between the hours of 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., not a minute sooner, not a moment longer.  Moms, I know you feel my pain, and I truly am consoled by the fact that you understand the blinding ache behind my blood-shot eye-balls. Unfortunately, I'm getting no sympathy from the male species of our household.  This is what I got from them this morning:

Hey mom, would you take us bowling this afternoon?
I don't think so boys, mommy only slept for about 3 hours last night, and I really need to catch a nap this afternoon.
Well, how about the pool then? Would you take us to the pool? You can fall asleep there and still look normal.  
Sorry to disappoint you, boys, but I'm not going to look normal (or take this circus bowling) any time soon. I could, however, handle drive-thru Starbucks and a Redbox.

Now, it's 1 o'clock, Joseph is wide awake and the boys are outside trying to pole vault into the baby pool with the telescoping wand that I use to wash windows.  Clearly, I'm not going to nap. Thus, I shall blog.

There's so many things I want to write about, but there's one topic that's been on my heart more than the rest, and I know that if I don't write a little something about it now, I never will.
Do you guys remember back about a month ago when I asked you to share your prayer intentions with me so that I could take them to the hospital and offer them up during labor and delivery? (Thank you, Kathryn, for the beautiful idea!)  Well, somehow I want to express to you - all 96 of you - my deepest thanks for responding to the invitation to share.

In hind sight, I truly believe that those intentions most likely more necessary for my good than for yours.

I hope that doesn't sound selfish or prideful.  Those long days of waiting leading up to the Joseph's birth, were much tougher than the birth itself.  I was really tired, swollen and struggling to sleep at night for more than an hour at a time due to sciatic pain in my lower back.  Feeling exhausted, yet trying to keep up with five busy boys, handle the normal housekeeping duties, along with the mental strain of waiting for Joseph past my due date, tested my emotional strength in a way I had never experienced before.

But, every day, you all came to my rescue.
Every afternoon seemed to afford a window of time in which I could retreat into my bedroom, light my holy candle, climb into bed and sink myself into your struggles, for a while escaping my own.  For almost two weeks, taking the time to meditate on each one of your intentions became a welcome habit, and as the days passed, I became sincerely attached to dozens of people I do not know, and will most likely never meet.  People struggling with alcoholism, infertility, cancer, worry for their children, divorce, loss, grief....the list goes on.

The culmination of this experience was quite humbling for me.  Not only did the intensity of suffering that many of you shared with me keep my own little pains in perspective, it impressed upon me more deeply than ever the conviction that the words, "I'll pray for you" aren't meant to be offered lightly.

Yet, I'm afraid they sometimes are.

I am guilty of such insincerity - of earnestly desiring to console friends and family in their times of suffering with promises of prayer, of having good intentions to commit to that promise, but failing in the follow through.

Have you been there, too?

To to say what you mean and to mean what you say - and then to DO what you say you will do is honesty and integrity - it's loving our neighbor as ourselves - at its core.  Countless people so kindly reached out to me throughout my pregnancy, especially toward the end, to let me know they were praying for me, and I cannot tell you how much I clung to those words. I counted on those words. Words that offered hope in the deliverance of graces that I longed for, graces I knew would carry me through - minute by minute - every moment of the days of hurting and waiting and trying to be patient and trying to be a mom and trying to meet needs without begrudging the weight of the responsibilities, the weight of the crosses I was being asked to carry.

Someone once told me that one of the great fruits of suffering in this world is that suffering offers others the chance to pray and that prayer is unifying.  I'm a believer in that - as confounding and mysterious as suffering may be, the boldness and beauty of all that is borne from it cannot be denied or ignored.  When we share in that suffering together, through prayer, we can experience Christ and through Christ, one another.

How can we not be changed by that?
Indeed, it is in giving that we receive.

So, thank you.  Thank you for letting me pray for you - all those days prior to the birth, and of course during labor and delivery as well. You'll never know the blessing you've been to me!  I'm still holding on to your intentions.


  1. Susan, I love this post so much! What a great reminder to keep others in prayer. I'm so guilty of promising to pray for someone an then later forgetting!

    Thank you for all your prayers!

  2. I love this!! I went though a long period of time where I was the one guilty of saying the words without any follow-up. Now, I've found that if I pray right then (even if it is short with my eyes open while I'm walking), it ensures that I will continue to remember to pray for that person and their need. I feel overwhelmed if I think I have to get someplace quiet by myself every time I pray but if I can pray while I go about other activities (driving!!!) it helps me.

    1. Your advice is perfect, Kim - just pray right away - I needed to be reminded that God hears our prayers everywhere and anywhere and at all times! :)

  3. A friend once asked our priest how he remembered all of the people and situations he had been asked to pray for. He replied, "I can't, but God can. When someone asks for a prayer, I tuck it into my heart. When I pray at night, I pray for all of the people I have in my heart. God knows who they are and what they need." I sometimes do the same, as my memory isn't what it used to be.
    Thank you for praying for my situation. I'm glad it helped you as much as it helped my family.

    1. Christine - this is beautiful. I am going to follow your priest's advice! Thank you for sharing it with me! :) BTW, I hope you had a fantastic trip to England!!

  4. You have a beautiful heart!

  5. Such beautiful words. And thank you for your prayers. I always feel such peace when I know there are others praying for me.

    1. Beth - I agree with you 100% - knowing others are praying for me gives me great peace and strength!

  6. Susan! Love this post! So much of labor pains come after birth and are more costly ;) It is so consoling to know there are other women suffering the same and fighting to make it into prayer and a beautiful offering to God. Thanks for the continued motivation and inspiration. Know you will be in our prayers as well. Much love!

    1. Thank you for your prayers, Maria! I have been praying daily for you and your bible study ladies, as I know that so many of them are expecting. I would love to take a road trip to Beloit this fall to meet all the new little ones! :)

  7. This is such a beautiful post, Susan. Your prayers are a blessing to me - thank you.

  8. Thank you so much for this beautiful reflection. I especially loved the part where you said, "I'm a believer in that - as confounding and mysterious as suffering may be, the boldness and beauty of all that is borne from it cannot be denied or ignored. When we share in that suffering together, through prayer, we can experience Christ and through Christ, one another." I have a challenging day ahead today, and this was the perfect way to start my morning.

    1. Jennifer - Thank you for such a kind response! I will be thinking of you today, hoping that things go smoothly for you! :)


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