Desperate Prayers from a Mother-to-Be
“Father, I pray I wouldn’t compare myself or our daughter to others. Give me a heart of contentment and gratitude.”
These are not profound words. This is a simple prayer from a devotional I’ve been working through during my pregnancy. The message caught me dead in my tracks, though. I need this prayer. So badly.
Because instead of being quick to give thanks, I’m much quicker to give complaints.
Because instead of experiencing contentment in where God has me, I envy the lives of friends, family members, random Instagram celebrities.
Because I fear I’ll never measure up to the fearless, beautiful, independent women around me.
Because I already find myself swept into the temptation of comparing my unborn daughter to the babies and little girls I encounter everywhere I go, hoping she’ll be cute and smart and have a much better fashion sense than her mother.
It feels like the moment I found out I was going to become a parent, all of my flaws became very apparent to me. I started panicking and wondering how in the world I could solve all of these character flaws in the next nine months so she doesn’t end up in therapy because of me one day (well, let’s be honest, that will probably still happen). It’s bad enough that there’s a possibility that I’m going to pass down my bad teeth, my horrible memory and zero athletic abilities. At least those are all pretty much out of my control. Character, though...that’s a whole different story.
What kind of example will I set for my daughter when it comes to…
Yea, if that short little list isn’t enough to make you feel completely overwhelmed, I don’t know what is. Lately, my prayers have gotten pretty desperate.
"God, please don't let me mess her up."
"God, please help her only see the good things I do."
"God, please hurry up and sanctify me A LOT before she gets here."
Accepting that I will fail my daughter over and over again as a parent may be one of the most difficult preparations FOR MOTHERHOOD.
When we lost our first baby last June and I was in the middle of healing and grieving and trying to trust God through it all, I remember one moment when I found myself thanking God that our little one would never have to experience the brokenness of this world. Now, as I prepare for our daughter to be born, I can’t help fearing all of the difficulties and heartaches and hurts she will inevitably experience. My shortcomings as a parent will just be part of that.
Although, isn’t that also part of our job as parents - to help them build strength through hardships, to let them fail and encourage them to try again, to let them make mistakes and learn from them? Sometimes, I wonder if this is the same tension of love that God experiences with us…to love His children so much that it hurts Him to see us hurt while at the same time loving us enough to let us grow and build strength and character and compassion through our pains.
But god's love is even greater because He sacrificed His only Son, letting Him suffer on our behalf, not to learn from His own mistakes but to forever fix ours.
Yet, here’s what my task-driven, perfectionist personality wants to do in response to all of this: identify every character flaw I have and then pray/work/Bible-study my way through each one until it no longer exists. Oh, you don’t think that’ll work in the next 10 weeks? Or ever? Yes yes, I know this. Mostly because I’ve probably tried it at some point.
A long time ago, I went through Beth Moore’s study on the Fruit of the Spirit. There is something she said that I’ll never forget. She said that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control are not fruits of the Spirit, they are THE fruit of the Spirit. That means that when we’re tempted to say, "Oh, today I’m going to work on the fruit of peace," we are completely missing the point for two reasons:
1) We do not produce the fruit of the Spirit…the Holy Spirit does, and...
2) these are not necessarily separate fruits to experience independent of one another. When we’re walking in and filled with the Holy Spirit, we experience all of these characteristics. Sure, there may be one aspect of that fruit we may need a bit more in the moment but I don't think you'll find the others too far off.
So that means that when I wonder about how I’ll be an example to my daughter when it comes to…
I don’t have to curl up in a ball and despair over all of my future shortcomings. It means I let go, I confess my weaknesses and I ask the Holy Spirit to fill me, guide me and strengthen me for all of the moments I’ll need peace and patience and kindness and goodness and gentleness and faithfulness and self-control (which I'm guessing is going to be like every 30 seconds).
So I’ll just add a small little change to my previous prayer:
"Father, I pray I wouldn’t compare myself or our daughter to others. Give me a heart of contentment and gratitude. Help me not depend on my own strength, but on your Holy Spirit instead."
What about you? What’s the prayer you find yourself whispering over and over again each day? How have you seen God answer that simple prayer recently?