No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.—1 Cor 10:13
This week, I had another counseling appointment. I have been meeting with a counselor from CCEF via Skype for the past couple of months, addressing issues that have arisen throughout the past five years, working through my conflicting thoughts, and letting God challenge my heart and mind. Through our sessions, I realized I have found a track and have kept running on it, thinking that somehow, God will improve things for me, that she will grow up, figure things out, or that time will just make things easier.
While things for Anah has changed circumstantially (she is now attending school full time), my heart had not. Maybe what I was expecting was that God would miraculously zap my heart and change it so that I would be more loving. I had removed myself from the equation, thinking that if I were going to get out of this track, God would have to do the heavy lifting! I held my hands up in resignation to Him—I have done all I could, I told Him, and none of it has worked. I’m just going to have to tough it out with Anah the rest of my days. Poor me.
It was at this point that God challenged my thinking. That is a lie! He reminded me that He has given me everything I need for life and godliness through his very great and precious promises. Through these promises, I can participate in his divine nature and escape the corruption of the world caused by evil desires (2 Peter 1:3, 4). Not only is it possible for me to love her authentically and deeply, I can do something about it. But it was not what I expected.
Clearly, it is not by gritting my teeth and willing myself to love her. It is not by sacrificing everything so that my life revolves around her. No, it is by something far more powerful: prayer. That is the way out—by surrendering to God and submitting myself to Him and His lordship in my life. After every question I asked my counselor, her words have basically boiled down to learning to admit my need and my inability to change, and then to ask Him to do that work in me. Somehow I was expecting something with a little more "meat" to it, but prayer is what she kept circling back to.
It is by praying honestly, admitting my inability.
It is by praying in trust, believing He fully understands and cares.
It is by praying in humility, confessing I need Him.
It is by praying in faithfulness, even if nothing seems to change.
So that is what I have been learning this week. I pray for other people. I ask other people to pray for me. Will I pray for myself too? Somehow it seems a bit selfish, but what if prayer is part of the way out that Paul promises when I am tempted to feel sorry for myself, tempted to give up, or tempted to pull back from Anah's neediness?
I guess I'll need to pray and find out.