For a quite a while I have been praying for someone I love.
Now that in and of itself is not really something worthy of time on a blog (I imagine almost all of you fall into that category at this moment to some degree or other).
Here's the thing. I believe deeply in a God who hears and answers my prayers. So I have been pleading with Him to help my loved one, or help me know how to help my loved one, or to inspire someone else to help my loved one, or to soften the heart of my loved one or something, ANYTHING, to get this person what they need so they will find the courage and strength to make corrections and they won't struggle so much.
But it hasn't happened.
Not just an absence of grand attitudinal remodeling, but a slow and steady crumbling away of the sturdy foundation around this precious soul.
I've done everything I know how to do -- and lots of things I didn't know how to do -- trying to help. I've trusted and struggled and begged and pleaded and fasted and worried and planned and hoped. But to no avail.
The sad situation has remained just as troubled as ever.
Why is it that way? Why can't I pray this sweet human out of their trial and onto a better path?
There's the rub.
One word. Agency.
Because no matter how much I want it and no matter how much I am willing to work for it, this transformation cannot happen until the person at the heart of it chooses to change.
If God forced my loved one to do what I want (which is, very honestly, in their best interest) just because I asked Him for that blessing, He would no longer be God. He would thwart His own plan and undermine the entire reason we are on Earth.
God encourages, He inspires, He corrects, He teaches, He rebukes...but He doesn't force.
Remember that Laman, Lemuel, and Alma the Younger were each chastened by an angel -- but only one of them chose to turn his life around.
So, why do I keep shooting prayers toward the Man Upstairs when I know that no amount of pleading is going to get me exactly what I want?
Because, like I said, I believe deeply in a God who hears and answers my prayers.
Despite the lack of radical improvement in the situation, I believe that God does help me to know the things to say and do to touch the heart of this person or to help them see that I love them. I believe that God does inspire other people to say and do things that will plant seeds which will hopefully grow in time. I also believe that God is giving this person every possible opportunity to soften their heart and choose to change.
Because He cares about me.
But also because He cares about them.
We are His children, both of us. And He wants us to come to Him.
But, out of love and respect, He allows us to choose that for ourselves.
So, in the mean time, I will try to be patient. I will try to love and encourage without being too pushy. I will support and praise whenever I get the chance. And I'll even chastise from time to time (which isn't fun, but that's the way it is). I will hope like crazy, the kind of hope that is more than just wishing for something to happen, hope that has faith attached to it.
And I will pray.
I will pray my little heart out.
Because this is a miracle I am not willing to give up on.
And neither is my Father.