OppositesBlog / Produced by The High Calling
You’d never guess they share DNA or the same parents. One of our girls is all sequins and hair bows. The other wields a fake pirate sword and despises "itchy church dresses." Our six-year-old daughter pledges to live with us forever. Our eight-year-old threatens to move to New York City the day after she earns her high school diploma. They are both passionate, and they are passionately polar-opposite. Which means things get pretty interesting when they plead their cases to God. They’re like four-foot-tall, dueling prayer warriors attempting to out-pray each other. It happened again a few nights ago. I curled up next to our older daughter. In the room across the hall, their dad tucked in the other child. We each whispered our amens and drew covers under little chins. Then we parents met in the hallway for our nightly Post-Prayer Review. He was already shaking his head when I met him outside the bedroom door. "She prayed for it again," he whispered. And I had to chuckle, because wouldn't you know it? The other child prayed precisely against it. The source of this house divided? A new baby. Our younger daughter has been begging for God to ple-eeease give us a baby. Meanwhile, our other daughter has prayed against it. "Our family is just fine the way it is," she demands. If the success of prayer were measured by external outcomes, our older daughter is the winner so far. I’m not pregnant. But the little one holds out hope. Maybe she sees that I moved the high chair out from the storage room—but haven't yet been able to bring myself to haul it to the consignment shop. Maybe she sees how the crib is partially dismantled, but still sits in the nursery. As parents, we’re hopelessly indecisive. We feel content with our family of four, but sometimes wonder if there’s one person missing from the framed portrait on the living-room wall. Sensing our indecision, our two girls tug hard on opposite ends to wield influence in the unseen realm. Over waffles the next morning, our older daughter asked, “Mom, do you think God hears our prayers when we ask for different things?” I told her that God surely hears us and that ultimately it's not the power in our words that determines the outcome—it’s the power of God, who has the final say. She didn't say much. I suppose she was trying to figure out how this whole prayer thing works—maybe wondering what the point of praying was if God is going to do things His way anyway. And I guess you could say I sometimes wonder the same thing. When I was her age, I told her, our basketball team was two points away from winning the playoff game. I prayed, "God, if you hear me, let our team win." I figured a few kids on the other side of the gym must have been praying the exact words for their team. And I also figured they must have been better at praying, because their team won. She smiled, took another syrupy bite, and thought about it a while. “But what about our family, Mom?” she asked. “If I’m praying against a baby, and Anna’s praying for one, are you like the tie-breaker?” It occurred to me as I sat there that I hadn’t ever picked sides. I’m edging closer to 40 and figure I’m done having babies. But a lump rises in my throat when I think that I might never again feel those fluttery kicks inside a belly stretched wide by new life. A maternal urge burns deep on a day like today, the first day of school. From the end of the driveway, I swallowed hard as the bus disappeared over the hill, carrying my two girls—a kindergartener in pink bows, and a third-grader in plaid. I’m a mama in a quiet house. On this day, maybe I’ll step into the storage room and lift the lid from a rubber tote holding onesies and bibs. Maybe I’ll breathe in the scent of baby detergent and remember how she looked in that pink dress or that silly Santa suit. I’ll roll fleece between fingers one more time, and think that maybe today, I’ll haul these relics to the consignment shop. But instead, I’ll close the lid and leave the tote next to the furnace, and I’ll pray to God the same way I’ve been praying these last six years: “Not my will, Father, but yours be done.” Because I’m not the tie-breaker. "winter/summer" photo by Claire Burge. Used with permission. Post by Jennifer Dukes Lee.