Tuesday, July 12, 2016

What I Learned from a Selfish Prayer for My Child

After Jaycee was born back in 2006, I prayed intensely for her. I believed in the power of prayer and faith. For that reason, it was my Christian instinct to pray for her to thrive even with her Down syndrome.

As I had been taught by religious teachers, I made a list of things to pray for about Jaycee. Some of the things on the list were for Jaycee to:
-live a long, healthy life (still my prayer)
-be able to read and write
-thrive in school and not need special education
-walk and talk even hitting developmental milestones earlier than expected
-not be impacted by the presence of her extra chromosome

I prayed and prayed for Jaycee. I believed she could grow up and accomplish and unbelievable things with God's help. I wanted her to be the miracle child-the one that would be in regular education, clear speech, and having great successes despite having Down syndrome. Of course, I would give God all the credit.

Then one day, I was slapped in the face with a thought after a few weeks of praying through my list. It was one of those thoughts that came out of nowhere, leaving me to credit it to God.

Are you praying those things for Jaycee or for you?

I knew right away why the question came. It stopped me in my tracks. I knew at that moment in time, I was praying for Jaycee to thrive and do well for my benefit even if I wasn't able to admit it to myself. Could my prayers for Jaycee actually be selfish in nature? Is that even possible?

I can honestly tell you that raising a child "forever" and having a child with possible large delays was frightening for me as a new, first time mother. Of course, having Jaycee not be impacted by her Down syndrome would be easier for her and I. Perhaps even praying these prayers of faith kept me in a somewhat protective state of denial.

The real questions that came from that original question were:
-If Jaycee was not "healed" the way I prayed, will I be able to cope?
-If Jaycee has many expected problems, what will that mean for her and I in the future?
-Am I ready to accept that reality?

These were hard questions to try to answer because they required complete honesty. They required me to look at possible futures for Jaycee and myself that I almost could not fathom.

So the question remained, was I praying the prayers for Jaycee to thrive for her or for me? And did it matter?

Perhaps I prayed for Jaycee to be my miracle child because I was fearful of the alternative. Perhaps fear motivated me to pray rather than faith. That was the issue in my heart that God wanted me to address. And, I did.

I found that I didn't need Jaycee to be healed and perfect. I didn't need her to be an articulate, amazing successful person with Down syndrome. The things I feared years ago weren't as bad as I had imagined. We have both lived through them, and we are both happy.

Over the years, I have had to keep myself in check. I have had to examine my prayers at times. What is my motivation for praying things for Jaycee?  If it is done in faith and love, then I am on the right track.

And, this what I have learned from selfish prayers long ago.

No comments:

Post a Comment

submit to reddit