The Prayer That Changes Everything

This year for Halloween my girls dressed up as Wyld Style and Unikitty from the Lego Movie. They decided on those costumes in June. By August they’d made sketches.

Halloween is pretty huge in our home. Not the spooky stuff or the candy. Just the costumes. The girls LOVE costumes. And I love making costumes.

One year I made Eve a Cookie Monster costume and let her eat all the chocolate chip cookies she could stand.

Last year London was Glinda the Good Witch, and she almost exploded with giddiness.

I work for more than a month planning, gathering what I need, and crafting before the big day. My costumes aren’t the best (I can’t really sew too well), but they are always exactly what my daughters want.

I take their wishes seriously.

This year, as is my custom, I dressed the girls for a Halloween morning photo shoot. London needed hair paint and makeup. Eve needed a lot of makeup. Thirty minutes worth. She and I sat at the table, me painting, her laughing. When I finished, she was overjoyed.

Both girls said, “This is perfect.”

They put their shoes on.

I said, “Let’s get in the car.”

And then it started…

London’s pants were too loose. She didn’t like the way they hung. She cried. I helped her adjust them.

Eve didn’t like the way her tail hung. She cried. We pinned it to her jacket instead of her pants. The crying dimmed.

Then Eve tripped. And the crying flared.

Eve decided she didn’t like the way her horn attached to her head. I helped her change it. She liked it, but couldn’t stop crying.

Now she didn’t want to get in the car. I carried her. Still crying.

In the car the crying escalated to full-blown, all out, weeping.

Eve: “Mom (sob), I’m soooo suh-orry (sniff, sniff). I don’t know why I’m crying (more uncontrollable crying). But I can’t stoooooooop. (wah….).”

After five minutes of crying, Eve was a mess. Black paint covered her palms. White paint dripped down her cheeks.

London told her she looked horrible. And the weeping reached an even further level of intensity.

Here’s why I’m telling you this story:

In that moment, I should have been furious. I’d spent two months getting these costumes ready. They were exactly what the girls wanted. Here it was Halloween day, a day Eve had made me count down to on the calendar, and she couldn’t stop complaining, whining, and crying.

I had every reason to lose it.

But I didn’t.

I walked into the house, got a damp paper towel, and tenderly wiped makeup off Eve’s face. I said, “Let’s skip the photo shoot. How about we go to the park?” She smiled. I said, “Let’s have Chick-fil-a for lunch.” And she smiled more.

I took a sip of my coffee and climbed into the front seat and was amazed to realize I wasn’t stressed out or frustrated or even bothered.

"Who am I?" I wondered.

I have been praying for God to fill me with the Holy Spirit and grow in my heart the fruit of the Spirit almost every day for the last three years. I say, “God, grow in me love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.”

I pray for it because I am convinced, convinced by previous years of slow and faltering progress, that only God can give it. I can’t love on my own, not His way. So I pray He’d teach me to love.

And the wild thing, the thing that’s blowing my mind, is that He’s actually, really doing it.

That moment with Eve isn’t an anomaly. Often I find myself being a better person than the person I am should be.

I’m more patient than I’ve ever been. I’m full of joy even when it doesn’t make sense. And I’m doing the hard work of resolving conflict and making genuine peace even though I hate the process and don’t want to do it at all.

And all of that is the answer to a prayer.

For me, it’s the prayer that changed everything.

I read Galatians last night and found this: “But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.” (5:5)

And I recognized that waiting—waiting for God to turn us into who He wants us to be.

I’m not perfect. You know that. I know it better. But I am growing. And bearing fruit. I’m seeing God lead me into righteousness, right-living, and I am delighted.

It’s not as hard now to make the right choice. I’m not always fighting the flesh’s first impulse. More and more, the Spirit responds first, pushing the desires of the flesh aside.

Praise the Lord.

I won’t, I can’t stop praying for fruit. Because it’s one prayer I know God answers every time.

I want you to pray it, too. Because, why wouldn’t you? It’s magic.

Trust God to make you better than you ought to be.

Pray:

God, fill me with your Spirit. Grow in me the fruit of your Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control…

And wait with open hands.

I realized as I finished this post and re-read it, that what God does for me is a lot like what I do for my girls at Halloween.

When I look at myself and see someone who isn’t quite me, someone better, I’m actually seeing the righteousness of Christ; I’m clothed by God in Christ.

Costumed.

When my girls pick their costumes I have only one rule: It must in some way represent who they are on the inside. For us, Halloween costumes aren’t disguises, they’re revelations. A peek behind the curtain.

And for me, the righteousness of Christ isn’t a ruse, hiding from others and God the messy, dirty heart underneath. The righteousness of Christ is a revelation, a peek at the work God’s doing in my heart.