P.U.S.H., as an acronym, stands for “pray until something happens.” I don’t pass that off as just another handy little churchified colloquialism you toss to folks to give them a boost of encouragement. I believe in it. I’m not a Bible scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but I am a prayer warrior. I pray in the car. I pray on the train. I pray in the shower. I pray when I’m shopping. And Lord knows I pray when someone cuts me off in traffic. They’re not big, orchestrated thee-and-thou supplications. Some situations call for the whole holy production but for the most part, I just have little conversations with God throughout the day, marked sometimes with gratitude, sometimes with questions, sometimes with pleading — on my own behalf or interceding for somebody else.
Still, despite my do-not-hesitate approach to utilizing my direct connection to Jesus on the main line, I feel stuck. In my head, I’m furiously pedaling like I’m whizzing along on a Schwinn when in reality, I’m on a stationary bike going nowhere super fast (and, to add insult to injury, not even burning any calories in the process). Christian convention insists that God is supposed to give us the desires of our hearts if we obey and act like we have some sense. Time has come and gone on some of my requests. In their honor, I had a fleeting moment of disappointment, put a moratorium on them and blew them away like dandelion dust in the wind.
I can live with the fact that I didn’t finish my master’s before I turned 30, for example, or that I didn’t save up the money to take Girl Child on her first international trip before she became a teenager. But on the heels of a breakup with a man I loved for two and a half years and aspired to marry, I can’t shake the feeling that not only did I waste my time, though I tried to do it right by consulting with the Lord at every stage of the courtship. I feel like it’s not destined for me, and that’s frustrating because praying until something happens ain’t makin’ it happen.
The desire of my heart was to be a mother again and a wife for the first time, to have an opportunity to do it the right way in a little nuclear family setup. I’ve fought on the frontlines of single motherhood for 13 years now and I don’t regret or bemoan the life my baby girl and I have together. But I’ve always envisioned myself eventually becoming the happy-go-lucky half of a solid, stable, long-loving couple and having two, maybe even three more little ones. I can’t even go near a baby these days. I avoid them like cigarette smoke and Chinese food because one sniff of that powdery baby smell or one rub of that buttery soft skin is liable to make my biological clock spontaneously combust. So as my birthday comes up on Monday, tacking yet another year to the stack that’s already piled up, I’m conflicted about where the desires of my heart and God’s intention for my life intersect.
Biologically, I only have a certain number of years to make the conception magic happen. Every woman does. And I am so not trying to be some miracle of modern science, some Sarah-and-Abraham miracle who managed to defy the odds of time and science to produce a child. No thank you very much. That, above all else, is not how I want it to happen.
I can pray, pray and pray some more, but I’m frustrated — with the Lord, with myself, with circumstances I can’t control. If I decide today that I want to buy me a nice, shiny, super expensive Lamborghini (I don’t, but let’s pretend I do), I could take steps to get one. I could save my money for a down payment. I could research interest rates and get pre-approved for the best loan for my buying power. I could go to the lot and haggle with the salesman until I get a price I’m satisfied with. There’s a linear series of events that can make that objective happen. But when it comes to marriage and babies, it’s not that cut and dry. My prayed question to the Lord today is: Why allow me to want these things if they’re not going to manifest? It feels like a waste of emotion, desire and anticipation.
Now I’m trying to retrain my heart to not even be bothered, to play reverse psychology on my brain and convince myself that I’m cool with neither one of them happening. I can believe that what God has for me is for me when it comes to my career or my side hustles or my bullheaded desire to buy a historic home and fix it up. But this dream deferred is a little harder to let go, even with the power of prayer.