May I pray for you?

by Kristi Van Dyk

About a week ago, I was packing for our annual trip to Mackinac. This trip typically stresses me out due to: the weather, the logistics, the schedule, the tight quarters, lots of things. It almost always ends up being way less stressful than I expect it to be, but nevertheless the preparations are formidable and always produce anxiety. In addition to that, I had a larger-ish project looming at work, so my pre-Mackinac week was fairly inundated. 

Fast forward to Friday morning, about two hours before we have planned to hit the road. I have my lists, a delicate packing order, the final dishwasher load set and timed, and all of the food and snacks planned and packed. The kids are hyper beyond all get out and my sweet husband shouts as the door slams, "See you in about an hour."

SAY WHAT??!!!!! 

Somehow I had totally missed (despite him mentioning it multiple times) that he had scheduled a filling on Friday morning, an hour before we were supposed to leave. It wasn't on our shared calendar, and I flew into a stressed induced, silent fury. (I hope my readers can relate to that type, the one where you know that later this won't be a big deal but right now it just makes you so angry you want to break something?) I took on the added challenges of loading the van while keeping the kids calm with great courage and poise. This lasted 15 minutes. At minute 16, after tripping over the cat, running into the toddler (who was following way too closely) and watching the older two not even glance up from their iPods, I lost it. 

I'm not sure what I yelled or to whom I yelled it. I don't believe I cursed at anyone, but my outburst had an impact. All three children stood in gaping, stunned silence. The big two clicked off their iPods, silently grabbed bags way too large for them and helped Madeleine and I load the van in utter silence. 

Despite the fact that I'd longed for some peace all morning, that silence was deafening. 

It wasn't the silence of obedience.
It wasn't the silence of peace.
It was the silence of fear, a fear I had created. 

After the van was loaded (almost 20 minutes AHEAD of schedule), I stopped moving; I pulled my solemn children onto my lap. I made them all look at me with their giant blue eyes. "I messed up guys. I'm so sorry. It isn't your fault that I feel stressed and frustrated, that I'm worried and angry. I shouldn't have yelled at you. I shouldn't have asked for help the way I did. It was wrong. Can you forgive me?" The kind hearted chorus of hugs and yes's, the big blue eyes filled with compassion still bring tears to my eyes). It's not unusual for me to have these "I need forgiveness" moments with them, but this time I didn't stop there. The Spirit was prodding me, leading me to try the next step. "Kayl, Benj, Mae, would one of you pray for Mommy? I'm really feeling very angry, very frustrated, and I need some help. I know God will help me, but I need to ask Him. Could you pray for me?" 

And they did.
Even the small fry. 
Their sweet little prayers rang in my ears during the drive, throughout the weekend, and still today ... 

What a powerful lesson I learned - not that I blew up and needed forgiveness (I do that all the time), but by being transparent about my prayer life. I walked away from that Friday morning with a mental note to pray more about my needs with the kids - and to share more of my personal struggles (when appropriate) with them. 

As God usually does, He took another opportunity to hammer the lesson home (just in case I missed it the first time). Yesterday I was going 100 miles an hour. I had a whacky Wednesday with a few extra responsibilities and then a tight turn around between school pick up, dinner making and teaching at Wednesday club. I got halfway through br-inner and realized we were out of eggs. I threw the kids, shoe-less, into the car, with me in my grubby sweats and sped over to Mom's to grab a few. On the way, we nearly got rear-ended, stuck behind a mail truck and honked at for proceeding with caution when passing the aforementioned truck. At the angry driver, I lost it. I yelled, "Seriously, can I catch a break??!!! ... UGH"

And from the back seat my treasured son's voice piped in, "Mom, are you feeling stressed? May I pray for you?" ... 

What a disarming phrase that is... 
Even more disarming coming from a child's innocent voice. 
No patronizing tones, no judgment, just sincerity.

"Yes, Benj, please pray." 
"Dear Jesus,
My mommy is very busy and very frustrated. She is having a hard time having her best attitude. Can you help her to feel in control and to be loving even if she doesn't feel like it? Thank you, Jesus, for my mommy and for how she loves me. Amen." 

And with that, I could burn the pancakes and the bacon (which I did), be late for church (which I wasn't), and even be delinquent with all of my household chores (which I DEFINITELY was) and still feel "okay" ... My son had demonstrated that he understands a concept far more important than a tidy home, more important than a gourmet (who are we kidding, edible) meal with proper nutrition, and definitely more important than looking and presenting yourself in a fashionable manner. Benj demonstrated a clear understanding that prayer.changes.things. That prayer to the Almighty God can bring calm in the midst of a storm, it can bring peace to a restless, aching heart, and that talking to God is something we can do all the time, any time, about anything.

Amen, and thank you, Jesus for your work in both of our hearts this week.