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Gratitude….for Unanswered Prayers

June 19, 2010

There it was in my #MorningPages, something so clearly observed while emerging into consciousness.

I am grateful for my unanswered prayers.

Writing, now fully awake with intellect engaged, is an entirely different matter. It feels like some parent just sent me off on an unpleasant assignment.

That would be, of course, the loving, all knowing parent who resides in the unconscious and shares her wisdom when I am mindful.

This “morning page” discipline often includes a list of things for which I am grateful. There is a gift in counting the things that have gone well- before I rise and start measuring the bad. Face it, we all complain about the rain as though our very existence didn’t depend on it.  If I acknowledge the beauty in the blooms or the view of the mountain, I have taken away a bit of the power of the rain to bring me down.

Grateful for unanswered prayers, but why?

I’ve learned to honour why they went unanswered.

Self-will was obviously problematic for many down through the ages. As early as 2000 years ago the imparted wisdom of The Lord’s Prayer was “thy will be done”.  It was a powerful and empowering closing for the same people who were simultaneously reminding the divine to send daily bread and forgive trespasses.

Thy will, not mine.

Wise folk frequently remind me: “I am rarely granted what I ask for but always given what I need.”

My litany of unanswered prayers were too many to name, but what jumped off this morning’s pages were a few. Relief and healing in my marriage, a sense of my financial security when my children were small, the success of a relationship that was just not meant to be, life for children unborn.

And what might that have looked like? Well because the divine with whom I am in touch has a sense of humour, this week I have had to face this head on. And on multiple fronts.

My children speak often of their father’s subsequent relationship. He is well loved, and they’ve been embraced by a new extended family, with the added benefit of step-siblings. He no longer knows a loving qualified by our being disappointed in ourselves.  We found each other very young and thought what we saw in each other was what we wanted. After we began our family I came to understand that what we said we wanted (largely to be different people than our parents) was not necessarily what we could deliver. The imprints of our original families overwhelmed.  Imposing my will would not have allowed any of us to move happily forward.

“Enough money” – well, we do come to learn there is never enough (10% more would surely make life easier). Had there been whatever I thought that was, I’d not have learned the assortment of skills I gained while working a variety of part time jobs.  Not a single one of those skills or contacts goes untapped as I have moved into this life stage.  I needed every one of those lessons and experiences.

Life for children unborn; I have the gift of three grown children for whom my attentions are frightfully inadequate (back to enough, I know). They all feel wanting of more or different from me – and had there been four or five of them, would the stories of these three be as they were meant to be?

And that other relationship? Joyful and sustaining as the memory of it was, I find this morning I was back to my usual admission to the divine:  Okay you win. I have learned that our paths might have crossed a dozen years ago and my first reaction to this was a descent into “what if”. It was often an unspoken prayer or dream – and yet the reality of the “what if” would have been disastrous.

Oh, I’d have gotten my way. But none of the happiness I now know could have come to be.

And even with this proof I still rise every morning struggling to get out of the way of my willful, judging self. I rise wanting other people to treat me better (really, their world is about me?), specific opportunities to become apparent (really, isn’t it arrogant to think I have envisioned the best of all possibilities?) and the sun to be shining (really, next winter’s sweater will come of a thirsty sheep?).

So I’ll remember to ask “Deliver me from the evil that is my willfulness into the redemption that is simply letting go“.

For more on #MorningPages – See – Personal Change Management, The Tools 0r check out Guardian columnist Oliver Burkeman’s article: This column will change your life: Morning Pages.

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