Monday, July 2, 2012


Most days it feels like I live in a constant state of "monkey see, monkey do."  If I am cooking in the kitchen, Mary wants to be cooking, too.  If I take a swig of water from my water bottle, Mary wants to taste, too.  Should I be chatting on the phone, well, you get the picture.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, so I suppose I should consider this a great compliment.

However, there are times when monkey may see, but monkey may not do.  

Take, for instance, this morning.  As I was brushing my hair, Mary came running out of the bedroom, my deodorant in her hand.  "Eh, eh!" she said, her little noise that means, "I want this!"

"Oh, that's nice," I replied, pretending that I didn't know what she wanted, when in fact it was very plain.  She wanted the top off the deodorant so she could wear some, too.   

Her, "Eh, eh!" took on a more persistent, forceful tone and I prepared myself for a crescendo to an all-out yell.  

When yelling produced no favorable response, she walked up to me, raised her little arm with the deodorant in hand, and, with those big blue eyes imploring me, said in the softest, sweetest little voice, "Peas?"

Oh, we have taught her well: when you would like something, you say please first.  And, as she gazed up at me, such longing in her face, I wanted so much to give her that deodorant, to see how happy she would be to have it and smear it all over the house and over her clothes.  I really wanted to make her happy, especially when she asked so graciously.

But, I also knew I couldn't open the deodorant, because I loved her, because I wanted her to be happy. And the obvious result that she would take a big bite of something that very clearly isn't healthy to eat just made granting her request not an option.

"Oh, Mary," I said, "I can't give you the deodorant because it could give you a boo boo."  


The poor dear couldn't understand; she didn't know why, when she did in fact say, "Please," she wasn't rewarded with the object of desire.  And, no matter how hard I tried to explain, she wouldn't be able to fully understand yet.  Maybe one day, when she is older, but not yet.

So, I did the only thing I could do.  I wrapped her in my arms, gave her a big kiss, and said: "I love you so much!  Do you know that?"

And as I hugged her, it clicked in my mind. 

Oh.  This is what happens to me, all the time.  This is how God must feel, about me.

I'm the little child, asking again and again for what I think will make me happy.  Sometimes I shout and yell for it and get mad.  And sometimes I ask so sweetly, in a very devout and reverent prayer.  Yet, despite all this, there are times my prayers aren't answered.  

You've been there, too, I'm sure.

I remember for years--years!--I would pray over, over, and over again for one thing: a boyfriend.  Yes, looking back on it, I do indeed realize that my petition could have been far nobler, say, for something like world peace.  But, as a sixteen-year-old, this boyfriend thing was really critical--essential even--in my eyes.  

Day after day I would pray the rosary or do a special novena.  And it seemed like God just wasn't listening, or maybe didn't care.

What happens to all those prayers that seemingly go unanswered?  The person who faithfully asks, over and over again for something...something good and wonderful--like the cure of a disease, or the conversion of a family member, or finding a job?

Even when we say, "Please?" why doesn't God answer?

I never really felt the answer until this morning, when I was overcome with a desire to make Mary happy by granting her wish, but restrained myself because I knew it might actually harm her.  It was a conflict of love.  If we feel this way toward our children, how much multiplied must it be for our Father, whose love is infinitely greater than anything we feel!  

So, when you find yourself praying for something and the request isn't being granted, remember that we are just children.  We don't understand everything just yet--maybe one day we'll see the big picture, but right now we only see partially.  If our prayer isn't answered, there's a good reason for it.

Remember that your Father is taking good care of you and has your best intentions at heart.  

And when your prayer intention is unmet, imagine your Father wrapping you in His arms and telling you the only thing you can understand right now: "I love you so much!  Do you know that?" you know that?

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