Tears & triumphs

The discovery is that an “all or nothing” mentality in prayer impedes perseverance. For example, if I pray, “God, please convert and save my neighbor,” and he is not converted for a year or two, it’s hard to keep on praying this same prayer day after day. So I tend to peter out. But if I realize that there are innumerable steps God might use each day to influence my neighbor, then I can take one day at a time and ask God to do something that day that will bring him a step closer. The alternative of “all” is not “nothing.” It’s “something.”
~ John Piper,
The "All or Nothing" Impediment to Prayer

I have several "all or nothing" impediments myself. First, the one referred to above - that I pray for healing and then assume I have been given a "no" answer when healing is not accomplished in the way or the time-frame that I imagined. Second, praying itself is all or nothing for me, too often! I have written before about my desire to "pray and work" (ora et labora), but it is something that continues to be difficult for me. I often forget to pray until I am angry (I need help, Lord!), stricken with sorrow (please comfort me, Lord), or surprised by joy (thank you, Lord!). But what about all the little things in the middle of the spectrum? The cuddling and nursing my baby this morning, both of us too sleepy to think. A missed opportunity for thanks, a missed opportunity to beg my Lord for mercy as I give up the innumerable little habits and joys of a nursing mother. (I did beg Him to send me another baby someday so that I might have this joy again) Then the moments spent disciplining my children for throwing each other to the ground in anger over a particularly beautiful pink tu-tu with gold glittery stars. I prayed as I had been taught ("May I do this for your glory, Lord") just before I spoke to them, then went through the next 20 minutes of teaching them without seeking counsel, solace, or joy in the Lord. I still feel as though my prayers waffle between the regimented, habitual prayers I learned as a child, to the cries from the desert of extreme emotions.

My day of joy yesterday involved many, many tears. Those great racking sobs that cannot be controlled and are literally a physical phenomenom. Yet I persisted in giving thanks, even through the tears. Today the "one thing" I will is to pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17). Please pray for me, friends. I feel as though I am literally coated in thick clay mud, my feet are planted in this spot of sorrow. I cannot shake it and I cannot lessen it today. It is just here with me, regardless of what I pray, say, do, think. It is present in all my thoughts and it is difficult not to let the tears just brim over constantly. Someone told me that sudden weaning of my last baby might feel like the death of a child. I haven't ever lost one, so I don't know. But I do know that the intensity of this grief has taken me by surprise, and I need help to navigate it. I assume this grief will be short-lived, but here I am regardless, completely beyond my own human ability to cope these past few days. I am clinging to these later words from I Thessalonians 5:

...the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. (v. 23-24)

You dance over me while I am unaware
You sing all around but I never hear the sound

Lord I'm amazed by You
And how You love me

You paint the morning sky with miracles in mind
My hope will always stand
For You hold me in Your hand

How deep how wide
How great is Your love for me

~ Jared Anderson, Amazed