Gratitude….for Unanswered Prayers

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

I am grateful for my unanswered prayers.

At this writing, I am now fully awake with intellect engaged. It is different. It feels like some parent just sent me off on an unpleasant assignment.

That would be the loving, all-knowing parent who knows that the wisdom – retrieved from my unconscious needs to be processed.

This “morning pages” discipline often includes a list of things for which I am grateful. After all, 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.  Yet if I acknowledge the beauty in the blooms or the view of the mountain, I have taken back the power of the rain to bring me down.

Grateful for unanswered prayers, but why?

I have learned to honor why they went unanswered.

Self-will was obviously problematic through the ages.

“Thy will be done” is over two centuries old. It was a powerful and empowering closing to The Lord’s Prayer for the same people who were simultaneously reminding the divine to send daily bread and forgive their trespasses.

Thy will, not mine.

Humbly, I’ll remember that…

“I am rarely granted what I ask for but always given what I need.”

Keeping Score

I’d written a litany of unanswered prayers, and a few were noteworthy.

Indeed, I’d asked for relief and healing in my marriage, a sense of my own financial security when my children were small, and life for children unborn.

What might answered prayers have looked like?

Well, because the Divine has a sense of humor – I have had to face this head-on.

  • My children’s father has remarried. He is well-loved, and they’ve been embraced by a new extended family, with the added benefit of step-siblings. He and I no longer know love qualified by our disappointment. We found each other very young and thought what we saw in each other was what we wanted (largely to be different people from our parents).It was not what we could deliver after our children were born. The imprints of our original families were overwhelming.  Imposing my will to “make it work” 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). Whatever I thought enough was, I wouldn’t have learned the assortment of skills gained while working myriad part-time jobs. Moving into this life stage, I find I am grateful. Not a single one of the skills I learned or contacts I made goes untapped. 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 want something 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?

Above all, I know now that the reality of the “what if” would have been disastrous.

Oh, I’d have gotten my way and…

None of the happiness I now know could have come to be.

Even with this proof, I 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?)

I want specific opportunities to become apparent (really, isn’t it arrogant to think I have envisioned the best of all possibilities?)

And I want sunny days! (really, next winter’s sweater will come from a thirsty sheep?).

Lastly, I now know to begin with – “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 or Guardian columnist Oliver Burkeman’s article: This column will change your life: Morning Pages.