Wednesday, June 2, 2010

For This Child I Prayed

I don't usually teach Gospel Doctrine, so when I have to substitute for my brother's class, I tend to over-prepare. I'll be the first to admit I'm a little intimidated by the breadth of material covered by these Old Testament lessons, and heaven forbid I should disprove my know-it-all reputation by failing to cross-reference every footnote in the reading material.

I began preparing for a lesson on the later chapters of 1 Samuel by reading Hannah's story at the beginning of the book. It had been a rough day with the boys, especially G-Dog. Though he is a twin, he is still consistently dominant and takes on the role of oldest child. He tends to amplify the intensity of any situation, good or bad: when things are going well, he thrives on the praise he receives for his good choices, but when we're at odds, he has a tendency to keep pushing until one or both of us spirals out of control. I am the adult. I should not lose it, but the reality is that sometimes I lose my cool and it's almost always over something G-Dog has done, or won't do, or won't stop doing. I am not proud of this.

I have always felt a certain kinship with the many infertile women of the Old Testament, and found a certain solace in the use of barrenness as a metaphor, but I had never taken notice of Hannah before. After enduring years of childlessness, she pleads for a son, vowing to give him to the Lord. The Lord opens her womb, and after her Samuel is weaned, she delivers him to Eli at the temple so that he might be trained in the ways of the Priesthood.

She says: "For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there." (See 1 Samuel 1:27-28)

I got hung up on that first verse: "For this child I prayed: and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him."

And I could not help thinking of G-Dog. For this child, I prayed. For this child, I begged, pleaded, bargained, wept, despaired. For this child, I endured needles, probes, surgeries, heartache, frustration, desolation, drugs, pain, and indignities. And the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him.

And then I heard a voice. "He is mine," it said. "He is mine." I knew then that this child, who is my toughest, who is a challenge harder to handle than the seven years of infertility we endured before he was born, is loved, watched, cradled, cherished by the Lord.

I am now exactly where I wanted to be: my babies all slumbering in the next rooms, husband asleep at my side, life full of people I love and time occupied by worthy projects. And yet. Time and again those things are not enough to motivate me to choose better. To be better.

This child -- all of these children -- lent to me but for a short space, are my teachers more than I am theirs. I wonder that their noble spirits were given to me, a most unworthy mother, and pray that this petition, too, will be heard by the Lord: that I will be equal to the challenge. That I will not damage them with my lack of patience. That I will be humbled -- finally, by strong-willed children who can teach me to rely on the Lord more than I have ever had to. That we may all grow together. That I can be like Hannah, and recognize in my little ones the spark of divine.



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29 comments:

  1. I love you, big sister. Lovely thoughts that will inspire and uplift many.

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  2. Beautiful words. I love Hannah's part in the Old Testament. So much so Samuel is my newest little ones middle name, it just seemed fitting.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Very beautiful. I need to remember that from time to time as well!

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  4. This is so perfect. And although I didn't really have any issues with infertility, I too prayed for children. And I have one that is particularly difficult for me, too. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, it isn't easy to remember just how much I longed for her and also just how much the Lord loves her and trusts me with her care. For that matter, they're all difficult at one time or another, and I forget these important truths.

    Wow. Thanks for this.

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  5. Oh wow. I needed this message today. Thank you so much.

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  6. This is so beautiful! I love you.

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  7. Oh, how I love it when I read a post that speaks the desires of my heart! Impatience is my WORST fault and my children of well aware of it (I'm always quick to apologize after the witch mom rears her ugly head).

    It's such an all-consuming, frustrating, beautiful, enobling struggle! I'm so often undone by my lack of patience, but I know, Heavenly Father knows, and my children know that I will continue the struggle and never give up.

    It's so comforting to know I am not the only one!

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  8. Very beautiful post. I feel unworthy sometimes, and I also feel ungrateful, and dare I even say it, put out when I get overburdened. As if I have forgotten how much I wanted each of my sons. Thanks for this lovely reminder of what really matters.

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  9. This is your voice, E. This is your key. This is your song.

    I have some experience with Hannah's story from the other end of the parenting spectrum. One of the challenges in seeing your kids become adults is recognizing that your stewardship is changing, and that the time comes when you have to turn them over to their priesthood leaders.

    You're so used to being the front line for revelation regarding that child, and when you're moved back a couple of ranks and replaced by a mission president, or a bishop, it takes some adjusting.

    More and more my counsel to my two oldest kids is, "I'm certain you'll do what is best. Pray. Fast. Go to the temple. Seek the advice of your bishop. I know you're worthy of the answers you're looking for, and once you receive them you can go forward with confidence."

    We're never replaced; there is only one mom! But stewardships are reassigned from time to time, and it's not always easy!

    God bless faithful Hannah.

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  10. What a beautiful post. You have written exactly what I needed to read right now. I'm so glad that I stopped by today! I love you!

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  11. WOW - thanks for that post, it has humbled me and made me really stop and think. Am loving your blog and will be back to visit again soon.

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  12. Apparently you attract Andrea's to your blog and we all post in a row.
    Great reminder.

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  13. Isn't it great when you teach a lesson of which you needed the message yourself? Another great reminder that God knows us and knows our needs. Thanks!

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  14. I agree with DeNae. This is your voice. Beautiful, raw, inspiring. You amaze me.

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  15. Oh man, did I need this more than ever today!!

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  16. Such an inspiring post. I needed to read this as well. It seems as though every parent has one that is a little tougher than the rest. We have one very strong willed son that can have me repenting for my actions in no time. I know he is so very special and he is teaching me as well.

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  17. I've just had a difficult time with one of mine tonight and like others have said, I needed this reminder. And as others have said, this is beautifully written.

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  18. What Denae and the other said. Tears. Just--tears.

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  19. Like most of the ladies here, my eyes were full of tears while reading this beautiful post. I need to remember this when I am frustrated with my little girl.

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  20. So beautiful. Don't you love it when the scriptures swallow you up and speak to you like that? I'm so glad God gives you words so you can share it so eloquently with the rest of us.

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  21. This gives me hope for one child in particular of mine. Thanks.

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  22. I'm an Old Testament junkie, and Hannah in particular has often crossed my mind. So very often I think those of us who've struggled with infertility don't realize until way later why the Lord made us work so hard for these creatures. So we'd remember how badly we wanted them.

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  23. Oh such beautiful thoughts. I love it. Thank you.

    And also...I can't believe you guys tricked me at CBC...When I met the two of you and was told that you don't blog, I was all, "that's weird, she looks like InkMom" (I said that in my head)

    I WAS PUNKED.

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  24. Such a great post! I have a step son that I didn't pray to have but now I find I must pray for him, anyway.
    Thanks for this.

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  25. Wow. As others have said, I needed this. And I will probably re-read it more than once.

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  26. i find myself reading DaNae in the morning with my coffee before i go to work and i just happened to click on your link from her. I am 74 years old and have two children who happen to be 15 years apart. i prayed over both of them all of there lives, one now mid fifties and one early forties. you brought a tear to my eye this morning I have laughed with DaNae and the CT scan and shed a tear with G Dog. My day just cant get much better.

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  27. O and there is bound to be a Church of Christ in your town. But we tend to be quiet so you don't notice us

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  28. I am a little behind the times in my blog reading, but I too loved this! As I love you my friend!

    It is funny, now that I have a child, after 8 years of infertility how I still have some of those infertility insecurities.

    I taught this lesson in Sunday school, but the thing that got me was that after praying for years for this child, which I completely understand, she literally gave him up, to the Lord yes, but WOW that would not be easy.

    How often could she have seen him? She did only go to the temple once a year after all. That is an unselfish woman, and the Lord did great things for her. But still, even knowing the end from the beginning, it would still have been hard to give your child, that you so desperately wanted, away!

    p.s. I am pregnant again! I am so overjoyed... (and sick) that I just couldn't me happier!

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  29. Thank you. I needed to hear this today.

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Sock it to me!