As parents, we are tasked with raising our children. To raise is to bring to maturity. Raising our children means helping them grow and learn, guarding them as they pass from infancy to childhood to adulthood. We raise our sons and daughters to become men and women...and then the raising is complete.
But to raise also means to set upright by lifting or building; to lift up; to place higher in rank or dignity. While raising B&F in the traditional sense, I yearn to also raise them in this way. I want to lift them, to set them higher. I want to build up their spirits and souls and consciences. And I know of no other way to do this than by lifting them up to God in prayer and thanksgiving.
I have a complicated, always evolving view of prayer. Do I believe that if you pray for good things, they will happen? No. Do I believe in praying over what you should cook for dinner tonight? No. Do I believe that God always "answers" prayers? No. Yet I still find prayer essential. In prayer, we are able to come before our God without guard or pretense. We can honestly pour out our praise for all that is good, and our fear regarding all that is less good. When we pray about our children, we can speak those things that never seem to find a voice...the joy that seems too prideful to admit...the anxieties that are too frightening to put into words. We often pray seeking some change in circumstance. But, more often than not, the act of praying, of standing before our Lord, results in a change in ourselves. The circumstances remain the same, yet after viewing them through the lens of prayer, our attitude towards them is different.
Since the day we found out our bundle of joy was going to be a double blessing, I have often needed an attitude shift. When anxiety creeps in, I try to remember to lift Barnes & Frances up in prayer. To pray over their sweet souls, rejoicing in how far they have come. When the days seem long, with double melt-downs and teething and food fights, I try to remember to pray for my twins. To sing psalms of thanksgiving for the miracle they are, to thank God for blessing me so abundantly with this duo of biological children. It's not easy. It's not my natural response. When I most need a perspective change is usually when I am least likely to lean towards prayer. But in those rare moments when I remember to go to God--on the days I remember to carry on a conversation with the Divine about my sweet children--the bliss of parenthood seems to shine a little brighter. When I pray for my children, when I speak to God about my hopes and dreams and fears for Barnes and Frances, I seem enabled to love them a little better. To love them with God. To love them through loving God.