Every night at bedtime with my son, I say a prayer. I start with appreciation. It’s a nice quiet time to reflect on the day, to tell my boy how much I enjoyed spending time with him, how glad I am that he’s in my life and part of my family. If we had some tough moments, I might apologize for losing my cool or reiterate a lesson that might not have gotten through in the heat of a tantrum. But even if I have to make a Herculean effort to find the silver lining in a day, I make sure to emphasize the positive always.
Once I’m feeling good and grateful, I start with the petitions. But I’ve stopped asking for certain things. My mind has changed, and instead of asking for list items like a job or some extra money, I focus my energy on determining the qualities and attributes that will help me to lead a more fulfilling life in general.
I pray for patience and wisdom. I pray for strength of spirit to help me work through difficult emotions and tiresome frustrations. I pray for passion and drive. An open heart and an abundance of love with which to fill the hearts of my husband, my son and the rest of our family.
In a way, I think that my prayers for myself have helped me to become a better person over time. Not perfect. But better. By uttering these various requests out loud in the presence of God and my own son, they take up residence at the back of every daily action and interaction. I have become mindful. I have gained insight and perspective. I try to embrace the positive and release the negative, though this can be difficult.
And things have been good. Until I find myself reaching another breaking point, where even a whispered bedtime prayer doesn’t seem to do much.
And I realize that though I am still flawed, the direction that my life takes also depends upon people and circumstances that are beyond my control. I get to feeling like I’ve been driving for hours without a map. I hardly know where the next rest stop is, much less the next destination, and I think it’s long passed time for me to pull over and ask directions.
Every time I start to think that we’re on our way to someplace awesome, we seem to get a flat tire. Or hit a road block, construction, detours. And while I realize that life is more about the journey than the destination, I’m sick of sitting in traffic or being stuck in mud. Even if we don’t end up where we thought we would, it might be nice to feel the wind a little bit, to be on our way to anywhere.
Days like these I spend inside my head. Praying for something I cannot name.
One afternoon this week, I drew myself a map. The places had been in my head for awhile, but the map is words, color, distance–visible. It’s a picture of dreams turned to goals plotted on a time line with the necessary steps arranged in bulleted lists. It’s simple. It’s realistic. It’s become a reminder to inspire what I hope will be a lingering motivation for me. And I hope that when I finally find the right opportunity to show my co-pilot, maybe he’ll manage to find his own motivation in it somewhere, too. Because I’m sick of being the only one moving, even if it’s only going to be in circles for awhile.