A prayer for my somehow three year old baby on her birthday

Let her be quick to forgive and quick to say sorry.

Let her not seek her own way but Yours.

Let her give lavishly of herself and what she has without thinking of debt or payback.

Let her have strong boundaries that serve her and others, to keep connection without sacrificing sanity or health.

Let her love with abandon, never fearing being hurt or giving thought to what’s in it for her.

Let her be confident–the kind based on her position as a child of the most high king, never proud or arrogant.

Let her be curious, exploring the world in all its wonder and mystery.

Let her be brave, never letting fear rule her even though she may feel it.

Let her see the truth and express it with overwhelming gentleness.

Let her be running over with big faith, the kind that moves mountains.

Let her question all things but never doubt Your great love for her.

Happy third birthday, Mackenzie.

35: Thanks and Yes

For my birthday this year, I tattooed the most dangerous prayer on myself. What have I gotten myself into?

For all that has been: thanks
To all that shall be: yes

I first heard this (roughly translated) quote by Dag Hammarskjöld in high school. It followed me through my teens and twenties, bouncing around in the junk drawer of my soul, until I hit my thirties, when the drawer got opened and Marie Kondo-ed by God.

It’s one of those feel-good type sayings that people throw around to sound ultra-spiritual, right up there with “the universe provides” and “WWJD?”. It makes us feel faith-full and righteous. At least for a little while.

It’s also an incredibly dangerous prayer.

For all that has been: thanks

The first part is truly beautiful. It feels impossible, but it’s so necessary for us to find even the tiniest, quark-sized piece of gratitude for our painful pasts. God orchestrates those moments (or years) of suffering into a symphony of wonder if we have ears to hear it—each trauma, each loss, each failure becomes its own note in a holy composition.

That second part, though. Ay, there’s the rub.

To all that shall be: yes

What are you agreeing to without knowing?

Heartache or joy?
Bankruptcy or abundance?
Famine or feast?
Abandonment or community?
Sickness or health?
Persecution or protection?
Cursing or blessing?
Death or life?

All of it. You’re saying “yes” to anything and everything that God has planned, even if it hurts, hoping that it’s good, trusting that it will be great, with absolutely no hints about which paths you’ll take except the small circle of light around your feet.

It’s giving up your will, your way in total surrender to His will, His way.

Like I said: a dangerous prayer.

And despite knowing all that comes with such a bold, foolhardy statement of faith, I was compelled to tattoo it on myself to mark my birthday this year.

This past year, one I (stupidly) considered barren and fallow, God has done a work in my heart.  And every time I found myself weeping incoherently on the floor, no matter what I thought of myself, my situation, or my god, it was this prayer that bubbled up. Over and over. Its oddly balanced weight of gratitude and trust comforted me like a familiar sword in my hand as I faced off against enemies in the dark. And every time, I won. Because of this prayer—this battle cry.

As I close the book on 34 and open the pages of 35 with these lines written on my arms, I don’t know what I’ve said “yes” to. But this is a milestone year. That much is clear. And as I take small illuminated step after small illuminated step towards the things I have been shown, I trust that what I haven’t seen is part of heaven’s plan, even if sometimes it might feel like hell. 

Two forearm tattoos in handwriting script font. "For all that has been: thanks/To all that shall be: yes." Dag Hammarskjold