1 CHRONICLES 4:10
10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
When naptime is declared irrelevant by people who don’t come up to my waist, I pray for sleep. When it’s pouring down rain and I’ve got Charlie with me and I’m sitting outside the grocery store knowing there will be no dinner if I can’t get us in there, I pray for a break in the weather. When it’s spring break, I pray for a quick return to normalcy. It appears I’m a reactionary prayer.
It made sense when we were wading our way through infertility. You pray for that baby. You get everyone in your circle and beyond to send S.O.S. cries to God. It made sense when Charlie was so fragile with the trach and the g-tube. You pray for health, happiness, and safety for your child. It made sense when I was on bedrest for the twins and all the former fears and PTSD of Charlie’s birth story came rushing back. Please let these two be safe and sound and sit tight! But it doesn’t always make sense.
If it’s true that we are to give thanks in all things, as the Lord’s prayer urges us to start each prayer, with praise before pleas, then that requires some introspection. It’s easy for me to pray for my children and my husband…it feels right, like another way to take care of them. But can I tell you, it’s also easier than praying for myself. I don’t like it. It feels…weird. Like, who am I to demand such things? I was never good at speaking loudly for myself. If I needed something, like better grades in chemistry or a different job, from publishing to teaching, I buckled down, shut my mouth and got to work and got it done. I didn’t ask the teacher for help or a friend or my family for advice over the job switch. I just made it happen. And only when I can’t make it happen (infertility, Charlie care, overwhelming life with three kids), only then do I cry out.
But that’s just nonsense. I’m just Eustace scratching off his scales in C.S. Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I’m never going to be able to un-make my dragony self. It’s not humility that causes me to pray for my family but ignore myself. It’s vanity. I’ll fix me while you fix them.
This is Jabez’s only mention in the Bible, but it’s a good one. He cries out loud and clear, “bless me”! He’s not timid. He does it because he knows he can’t bless himself. He can’t grow his territory and protect himself from pain without God. I SO want this. I want to do this with every part of my life…not just the dire circumstances. I want to pray loud and clear for God to bless my heart and my health and my writing and my motherhood and the parts of me that need to be creatively fed. I want to pray for peace in the thunderstorm that is sometimes parenting and I want to pray for those sweet-smelling moments when time slows and you want to freeze your children in time, create a little diorama of your life. I want to pray to stop trying to make it happen all on my own, to stop scratching at the scales. So…I’m going start. Slow and easy wins the race. Everything needs a beginning, and this is mine. I’m going to exuberantly ask for blessings for myself, because that is pride aimed in the right direction.