At the end of bedtime prayers with the girls the other night, I uttered a few prayers specific to me. To my surprise, Maylie immediately questioned, “Mama, do you think that really works? Asking God to give us what we want?”
Ugh, it was already 30 minutes past bedtime, and I now had to explain to my daughter how prayer works.
I mean I could have just answered yes. That is the way it goes — just ask and receive. Look at cousin Bray. We have been praying hard for him and his last set of bloodwork showed that cancer was undetectable! (Praise God!) God is good and He listens to our prayers and answers them all the time. It could have cut short a long bedtime story.
But, what happens when she starts asking God for toys and they don’t just show up? Four years old or not, she deserved a truthful answer. Even if that meant that bedtime would again be delayed.
I told her that God always knows what is best for us. That sometimes the plans in our heads — the hopes we have — are not what God has planned for us. That we need to keep asking and talking to God and Jesus but that He always knows what is best for us — even if that means not getting what we prayed for.
Then Maylie told me that she talks to Jesus, but He doesn’t answer. Wow, pretty deep for some pillow talk. I had no idea how to respond to that. I mean, I was unprepared.
Because quite honestly, even at 32, there are times that I have longed for an answer back. Haven’t we all? In a world full of hatred and so little love, how do I explain to my babies that Jesus still has all the answers? When all we hear about on the news are school shootings, bombs and war, how do I tell them to listen to what He is saying?
I can’t. That’s right, I can’t tell them to listen to what He is saying. They may never hear it. I have to show them — just as Jesus does.
I began to explain that Jesus may not speak in words but He speaks in actions — that we need to look around to find Jesus. Sometimes, He is the sunshine peeking through on a cloudy day. Sometimes, He is a smile from a stranger. Sometimes, He is a friend saying just the right thing at the just right time. And sometimes, it is us who get to answer other people’s prayers through Jesus with our kindness.
While she was soaking that in, or so I thought, she was quiet. I started to question if I, as a mother, was properly showing them how to be a response of Jesus. All I could think about was when I yelled at them after asking them 12 times to brush their teeth, how I scolded them for yet again hitting each other and how I nagged them to pick up their toys and throw away their plate.
And just when I was completely down on myself and thought I was failing — as always right on time — Jesus answered.
“I know what color Jesus is, Mama. He is white. I saw a picture.” Maylie stated matter-of-factly.
Thrown back by her statement, I responded, “What if He isn’t white? What if He doesn’t have a color at all?”
Out of nowhere, Reagan joined the conversation whispering, “What if He is black?” And then in the same breath, and much louder, she proclaimed, “What if He is orange?”
Maylie, excited now, announced “What if He is rainbow? Or purple? Or blue?”
And all I could think was, oh my sweet babies, THAT is Jesus talking. That is how He heard my internal mom struggle and answered it with loving babies who had no care in the world what color Jesus is. It doesn’t matter. It is even exciting to them that He may be a different color — or all colors. Here I am trying to teach my babies about Jesus, and they are the ones providing answers to me.
So, we have been looking for answers now — not just listening for them. I am still trying to explain that Jesus doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want Him to, but He always hears them.
And I am stressing to them the importance of being like Jesus when it comes to spreading kindness. Because I may not be able to shelter my babies from this cruel world, but my hope is to raise kids that just might bring a little more love and a whole lot more Jesus.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.