I believe in the power of prayer. The Bible says to train up a child in the way that he should go, and in the end he will not depart from it.
I hung all of my hopes and prayers on that one verse for my only child, a son, conceived in love with my teenage sweetheart. My boyfriend was a playful ruffian who grew into a troubled man who battled alcohol and demons. He wound up in prison while I ended up in a college classroom. Two weeks after he was released from prison at age thirty-nine, he died in an automobile accident.
Our twenty-year, up-and-down relationship bore one good thing, one lasting symbol, and that was our beautiful son. While the man I loved was locked behind bars for ten years for burglary, I prayed night and day for our son. I prayed that he would stay clean and sober, walk the straight and narrow, do right instead of wrong, and be a good man.
I prayed this prayer almost every day and every night. Sometimes more than once a day. Sometimes with every breath I breathed. I tried to be the good example, the good mentor, the good parent. I stopped smoking, I didn’t drink, I didn’t swear, I took him to church. I had lots of long talks with him about life’s challenges. Yet my fear that my son might end up like his father consumed me. My heart lurched every time he left to hang out with his teenage friends.
Prayer by prayer, day by day, tear by tear, we made it through his adolescence. He had his ups and downs, a few close calls, a night or two in jail for drinking, but nothing too serious. Nothing too irreparable.
At twenty-one, my son is already a better man, a more productive and thoughtful man, than his father was. He is a carpenter’s apprentice, choosing to build things up instead of tearing them down, doing something good, instead of bad, with his hands. His father had already been to prison by the time he was twenty-one. My son has more than a fighting chance.
I realize God doesn’t respond to every prayer the way we want or hope. I prayed my heart out for my boy’s dad, and I felt like that prayer went unanswered. I can only say that my son turning onto the right path almost makes up for that seemingly unanswered prayer. So I thank God every day that He has kept my son from fulfilling my worst nightmare. My son, unfairly, has a lot to live down and a lot to make up for. He carries his father’s reputation with him wherever he goes, and I know people can see it on him like a badge.
I just wonder if they ever see me in him.
I still pray that prayer. I still have faith in it. I still believe it.
Tammy Ruggles is a legally blind finger painter and writer based in Kentucky. Her writing credits include a paperback book, Peace, published by Clear Light Books in 2005; Chicken Soup For the Soul; Disney’s Family Fun Magazine; Spirituality and Health; A Cup of Comfort; and many others. Family, faith, and friends are very important parts of her life.
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