When I was a little girl, my bedtime prayer usually went something like this: “Dear God, thank you for this day. Thank you for mommy, daddy, nana, poppa, granny, papaw, the dog, the cat,” and the list would go on and on to include extended family, neighbors down the street, and occasionally my (favorite) Barbie dolls.
I was a thankful little girl, but then I became a teenager. As teenage years often go, I found myself sleeping in on Sundays and praying only for things like bigger boobs so that the boys would like me. I didn’t need God. I had all the answers. So I stopped seeking help and saying thanks because clearly I had it all under control on my own.
And that went okay for a little bit.
I survived college, married my college sweetheart, and graduated from law school with only a couple of hiccups. My confidence was up because I had made something of my life—on my own. And then one morning I tip-toed to the bathroom and peed on a teeny stick. Pregnant… it said. Suddenly it was as if all my confidence and knowledge about life spilled out of my brain and on to the bathroom floor in front me.
We were about to move out of state away from family and friends, and I was pregnant.
Ok, so how do I do this? For the first time I really didn’t know. My only experience with a baby was that I had been one. None of my friends had kids, and my mom was going to be four hours away.
It’s funny that as you become more educated on life, you realize how little you understand about it. After I found myself pregnant and afraid (which in case you didn’t know is the sequel to Naked & Afraid), I started making small talk with the man upstairs. Most of the time, I found myself praying on those late nights when my husband was asleep and I was staring at the ceiling wondering about my baby. What was she doing in there? Who would she grow up to be? What kind of mom would I be?
My thoughts wandered through the positive, to the dark, and back again. And I couldn’t control my feelings of utter helplessness as my mind raced in the still of the night. It was on those panicky, anxiety filled nights that I would whisper up a prayer.
It was awkward at first. My praying skills had gotten a bit rusty over the years. I felt like a black-sheep child who had run away from home only to come crawling back with a new appreciation for what she once had.
Thank you for blessing me with this baby, but I’m going to need a whole lot of your help…
I needed Him so much I felt guilty. I felt guilty because I had turned my back on God for so long, and now I show up on his doorstep begging for answers. So in my effort to right my wrongs, I made a little rule for my prayers: before I prayed to God asking for anything, I would go to bed and thank Him for three things He had done for me that day.
My thought was that maybe if my thanks-to-request ratio was 3-to-1, I could make up for all the days I had taken the little blessings of life for granted.
After the birth of a healthy little girl, my prayers became more frequent and intimate. It only takes one look into the sweet face of my baby to initiate a simple, heartfelt “thank you.” I still don’t know what I did to deserve her.
I thank Him more often than I ever have, but I also ask more of Him. With stomach bugs and baby fevers, come worries which trigger prayer. But I’m thankful that worry is no longer the end of the line in my train of thought.
Life can be a big, scary monster. A monster that is so unpredictable that we can’t even begin to try to shield our children from it; nor can we convey enough knowledge to equip them with the answers to life’s hard questions. But we can pray that God will light up a path for them. And we can put our faith in the idea that He knows the grander scheme and will guide us and our children in the right direction.
And one of these days when my daughter pees on a stick and finds herself pregnant and afraid, I pray she realizes how little she knows about mothering children and finds herself talking to God in the middle of the night.