One of my most persistent prayers is that God would change me. That He would take all the selfishness and pride and anxiety and replace it with gratitude, humility, and complete faith in Him. I have walked the road of severe brokenness and seen severe brokenness and it terrifies me, and gives me a deep longing for the One who takes me and gives me a new name, a new identity.
The ironic part about this is that when God answers my prayers, I am so prone to grumble and reject His plans for how He needs to prune me. When I prayed for a heart of gratitude He answered my prayers by allowing my husband to be severely ill for several months, opening my eyes to just how thankful I am for a normally healthy husband. To this day, when I remember those long months of illness, I am quick to thank the Lord for a husband who can now get up and go to work, play with the kids, and who is no longer confined to the cold dark walls of the hospital. I am thankful that I don't need to leave my children 3 times a day anymore and live a double life with no normality or consistency. God answered my prayer, but I have to be willing to not forget what He was teaching me because in my imperfect belief and in my flesh, I so quickly lose sight of what He is doing.
More recently (after 2 years of not knowing why I felt so terrible) I found out that I have gallbladder disease, which has progressively worsened with time. I am in a position where I can't get surgery to remove my gallbladder until after I give birth to our third child. As my pregnancy has progressed, my gallbladder problems have worsened, and at almost 38 weeks pregnant I am feeling sick more often than I am feeling well. I wake up nervously wondering if it's going to be a "good" or a "bad" morning. I wonder if I'm I going to spend the day in pain and nausea or if I am even going to be able to eat at all for a day. I fear each thing I eat because there's no pattern to my gallbladder attacks at this point - they are totally random and out of my control. In addition, I am desperately trying to care my two kids and for this baby in my womb who depends on me for nutrients and who demands a lot of my physically energy.
I can't say I have handled this suffering well - It is only recently that I have accepted that God really is teaching me and pruning me through this trial. I prayed for humility and He has delivered by making me an unreliable person who frequently needs to cancel plans. I have no choice but to trust Him with my reputation, and accept that my circumstances make being a friend to me a bit different. I have had to humble myself to my limitations, because I am easily tired and not as able to help others like I would like to. In my prayer for gratitude He has opened my eyes to just how incredible it is to feel well. It is a gift and a joy on the days that I have enough energy to take the kids to the playground or be present with them instead of being stuck on the couch in pain. It is a joy to take a walk with my family as spring rolls around. It is a joy to feel the sun on my face while outside reading a book. It is a joy to be able to eat a meal and not suffer from it.
I prayed for patience and He gave me children who don't sleep well. I have to rely on the Lord daily to meet me where I am depending on what my circumstances are. My patience has expanded immensely and I'm able to handle a great deal more than I ever thought I could, and that glory goes all to God, not me. When I don't get a break in the afternoon or when I am surviving off of 5 hours of sleep, I have to trust that He is sustaining me. When I "lose my cool" I have to trust that He is changing me and teaching me and most importantly forgiving and loving me through it.
When you pray, He will answer. He only asks that we trust him with how He answers those prayers and that we accept that how He changes us at a heart level could be painful for a time, perhaps both mentally and physically. My physical and mental deprivation has only ever driven me to seek Him more fervently, and that's the point. He gives His love, as our perfect Father, abundantly, but it's up to us if we are willing to receive it.
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."