On Thursday morning, I reflected on the victory I'd experienced over my negative thinking and wondered whether I was truly changing my thought patterns, or just suppressing my negative emotions. "I want to keep praising you," I prayed, "but I don't want to stuff down all my emotions. Help me find the balance."
It was that same day that I suffered a big setback. My heart hurt all day long. I felt alone, angry, even bitter. I tried to praise God and thank Him for continuing to conform me to His likeness, but it didn't work. That is to say, maybe praising God made some difference in the spiritual realm, but my thoughts and emotions continued to spiral. I even knew that I was being disobedient to dwell on these negative feelings instead of surrendering them to Jesus, but I felt powerless to stop.
I was up most of the night on Thursday, and on Friday I felt a deeper, duller sadness as well as a tightness in my chest that signalled the old anxiety returning. It was a busy day with no time for moping because we'd taken Allyson to the Hawaiian Falls water park to celebrate the last day of summer break. She was fearless, riding the steepest water slides without hesitation, flushed with triumph when she reached the bottom. I enjoyed seeing her have fun and also enjoyed riding the slides myself on some level, but the stone in my heart just felt colder and colder as the day wore on.
Last night, Bill had hockey, so Allyson and I spent some quality time reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and then comparing the scene of Aslan's death and resurrection with Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection story in the book of Matthew. This was a precious time to me, but I was still looking forward to some quiet time in my prayer closet.
Naturally, Allyson's willingness to settle down was inversely proportional to my desperate need for some alone time. I prayed with her, cuddled, with her, brought her drinks, and finally started threatening to spank. Nothing helped.
At her request, I stayed in the TV room, a stone's throw from her bedroom, instead of going into my closet to pray. Instead of praying out loud, I poured out my heart in my journal, writing out my prayer for God to help me let go of my own desires and submit to His will.
All the while, Satan harangued me with lies: "You haven't made any progress at all.... You haven't changed one bit.... You're back at square one.... You don't have what it takes to follow Jesus. Maybe you should just give up."
"I can't give up," I thought. "What other hope do I have except in Jesus? Please, God. Please."
Just then, Allyson hollered, "Mommy, please come cuddle me again!"
I groaned. "No," I yelled. "I already cuddled you."
"Go to SLEEP!!"
"Please, Mommy. I'm really scared."
I stomped into her room. "Okay, just for a minute, but you need to go to SLEEP. I am so tired and it's been a long day and I'm sad and I really, really need to pray and you keep interrupting."
When I heard my own harsh words, remorse pierced my heart, and I started to cry. Through all of my struggles for the last three months, I've tried to shield Allyson from my sorrow and not burden her with my pain. But there was no holding these tears back.
I collapsed onto my knees and laid my forehead on the edge of her bed. "I'm sorry," I whispered, and then I just sobbed.
Gentle fingers rubbed at my scalp, tangling in my short hair. "Everything's going to be okay, Mommy."
I sniffled. "That feels nice, Allyson."
"It feels nice to me too. I love to rub your hair."
As she rubbed my hair, Allyson kept up a stream of soothing words that no doubt came straight from my Father. "Everything will get better, Mommy. It doesn't feel like anything is changing, but remember how you told me that God does things in His own time? We just have to be patient and keep believing. And we need to rejoice and feel in our hearts like our prayer is already answered."
"You're right, baby. Will you pray for me tonight?"
"I will if you'll start."
So I repented aloud for clinging to my self pity and desiring my own will. Allyson piped up then and prayed that God would help us feel His love settling over us. We took turns praying whatever came to our hearts.
After we said amen, Allyson tugged at my arm. "Come up on the bed with me so I can really cuddle you."
I climbed in obediently and pulled her to my chest. She nestled under my arm and nuzzled my neck. And then she started to chatter. Part of me figured I should tell her to go to sleep, but I didn't want to spoil the sweetness.
"I think it's hard for people to change," she said. "Especially adults, because they've been the same way a long time."
"Yes, it is. Especially when we want to go our own way. But going our own way brings us heartache. I know this from experience, Allyson."
"It's like when we go to Canada," she mused. "Think about us flying all that way, and when we're almost there, I remember that I left Allum at home. We can't go back for him because we're almost there."
"No, we couldn't go back." I smiled, wondering where she was going with this cute analogy.
"It's like that with you, Mommy. You've gone a long way on this path with Jesus. You can't go back now."
Chills ran down my arms. There was no way she could have known my thoughts of giving up. Surely God was speaking directly through my six-year-old daughter!
"Thank you for reminding me of that, sweetie. You're right. I can't turn back now."
Just then I heard Bill's truck pull into the driveway. "Okay, no more tears," I said. "I don't want Daddy to find me crying."
But Allyson wasn't finished. "Remember what you told me. Sometimes you have to let your tears out. If you hold them in, it makes you sad much longer. But if you let the tears out, you'll feel better."
"Yes, baby." I kissed her cheek, but then she puckered her lips for a kiss on the mouth, and we made a smacking sound. "You are such a treasure, Allyson. I'm so thankful to have you in my life."
"Me too, Mommy. Now will you ask Daddy to come snuggle with me? I've been waiting and waiting for him to come home."
While Bill snuggled with Allyson, I tucked myself into bed. Heeding Allyson's advice, I let the tears pour out in a torrent as I whispered my prayers, surrendering all of my desires and asking God to change my heart, to make my heart want what He wants for me. It hurt so much, but as I cried and gave up on my own hopes, a peace settled over me that truly surpassed my understanding. And I slept like a baby.
Today, I can't stop smiling over how God "interrupted" my prayer time to shower me with love through my sweet girl. Oh, how He loves me!
|My Treasure and Me This Afternoon|