“Mom… would you pray for me?”
I looked up from the dish I was scrubbing, sponge suspended and water dripping.
She was slumped over her schoolbooks at the kitchen table, a sigh stamped all over her expression.
“Of course… what’s going on?”
She hesitated. “I just… I just don’t want to do my school. At all… could you pray and ask God to give me the desire to do my school?”
I smiled at my 10 year old woman-child and nodded. “I will pray. You should pray too, you know… God likes for you to talk to Him directly…”
Her lips half curled into an unenthusiastic smile, her eyes remained flat and hopeless. “I will… I just don’t think He’s going to do it.”
I couldn’t suppress a little laugh as I continued to rinse off the dishes I had no desire to clean, from a meal I had no desire to make, and after I finished with them I’d be into an afternoon full of tasks and soul-training and self-discipline I had no enthusiasm to embrace, until the Everest of each day — bedtime — which I had no desire to wrestle four girls through. I laughed again just thinking about it. “No… no, He may not give you the desire to do your school…
… but you know what? When you ask Him for something good — like the desire to do something you know is right, or healthy, or necessary — and He doesn’t answer your prayer the way you hoped... He is really giving you a huge compliment, and a great opportunity.”
She sat up a bit straighter, listening… this little woman who wants to know God’s approval of her, and to embrace every opportunity she can to grow.
I continued. “When God does not give you a good desire you pray for — He is indicating you are mature enough to choose what is right and best whether you feel like it or not. Or, He may know you’re not mature enough — but His Spirit in you can help you do all things — and you can choose to ask for His help and know His power and how personal He is in a deeper, practical way…
… He’s giving you the opportunity to grow in maturity by practicing something that is necessary for everyone who wants to be mature: you get to choose to not follow your feelings.
Our feelings will take over our lives, if we let them.
But feelings are not meant to be leaders, directors, dictators of our lives. You’ve heard me say it before and I’ll say it again: Feelings are meant to be indicators, not dictators.”
She nodded. I could see her mentally preparing to accept the compliment of an unmet, good desire from the hand of One who loves her enough to not leave her childish, immature, ruled-by-her-feelings.
“Remember,” I said to the two of us as I loaded the last of the rinsed dishes into the dishwasher, “a ‘no’ to a good desire means a ‘yes’ to the gift of perseverance. We want to be mature enough to persevere in what is good even when we don’t feel like it, right?”
The light was in her face again. Her eyes locked with mine and we shared a hopeful smile. “Yep.”
She faced her books and turned the page, pencil ready for the next challenge.
I lifted my chin a little and faced my afternoon with a deep breath — the words of Love rolling over my mind: … Love always perseveres… Love never fails… the greatest of these is Love…
I said it quietly as I scooped up the basket of overflowing laundry and prepared to bear the weight up the stairs, one step at a time. “Yep.”