What are we going to pray about?
Who is going to pray?
What if nobody shows up?
These were all good questions. I really only had an answer for the first one. Questions two & three I had not considered. Surely, we knew a handful of other Christians attending this school. Did they know about this event? Then I was mad at myself for not organizing a gathering. I've been a poor planner recently.
We arrived at the pole well before there was activity at the school and much to our surprise, no one else was gathered. My daughter looked up at me and took my hand and shrugged and said, "Okay, Mama, let's pray". I said, "Should we pray aloud or silently?" "Let's do it in our heads." She said. So by ourselves we bowed our heads and prayed. As the start of class drew closer, the teachers and crossing-guards took their posts. And one by one the sidewalk filled with moms and students. Nobody else showed up to the flag pole and my daughter continued to pray.
I, on the other hand, self-consciously opened my eyes, and sort of posed as though I was looking at a bug on the concrete. My prayer was replaced with a few other thoughts:
I can't pray with all this distraction-don't these kids see I'm praying?
Oh, there's my neighbor. I wonder if she's wondering what I'm doing. What do I look like I'm doing? Do I look like I'm looking at a bug?
I wished I lived in the South. I'll bet there are 150 students gathered at every elementary flagpole in the South. Oh how I love the South.
And as my ten-year-old daughter continued to pray among the noise and awkwardness, I realized this is why Jesus said we should be like the little children. (Matthew 18:3) My little child wasn't embarrassed to be there praying by herself. She wasn't worried what people thought of her. I stumbled for a few minutes standing near that flagpole because I have never considered myself concerned with what people think about my love for my God. I've never been quiet about or been ashamed of my faith. I have always thought I would die before I denied Jesus and yet I could not even pray for 30 minutes in front of other people not doing the same. I could blame it on general insecurity, because I hate being noticed or standing out. I could armchair psychologist this baby til the cows come home, but God and I know the truth and the truth is that I didn't want to be weird or have someone think, "Wow! Taking that Jesus-thing a little too far. Now WHY is Carie PRAYING in front of the school?!"
So as I ask forgiveness in the quiet confines of my home, I will also ask to to be more like my sweet girl who cares nothing of what others think of her faith. Maybe more importantly, I'll ask that she continues to be fearlessly unashamed of any aspect of her relationship with God and that she'll never feel she has to pretend she's quietly observing a bug on the concrete instead of fully engaged in prayer because she'll be so locked into the moment with God, she won't be preoccupied with anyone or anything else.