Here’s a touching story about prayer by James Walsh: “My family dynamics consists of my mother who was 45 years old when she gave birth to me, my father who I believe was about 47 years old when I was born, my sister who is the oldest and is mentally deficient, my brother (Bobby) who is 18 years older than me, and my brother (Johnny) who is 17 years older than me. My mother and father divorced when I was about 3 or 4 years old. Both of them re-married while I was young. My brothers lived outside the house from the time I was born.
As a child from birth to 12 years old:
I was the quintessential ‘Momma’s boy’. My mother was EVERYTHING to me! I lived with just her from the time she and my dad were divorced until she re-married. I was so afraid to be away from my mom, I even slept in the same bed as her every night. That’s right! I slept in the same bed until I was twelve years old. Now later on, it became an issue of being too scary for me to sleep alone rather than being afraid to be away from my mother. In fact, it was so hard to sleep alone that I even slept in the same bed as her and my step-father after they got married! I would sleep on one side of the bed, my mother would sleep in the middle, and my step-father would sleep on the other end. Also, I would sleep in my dad’s bed on ‘his weekends’ while his wife would sleep in their guest room. I know this could not have been easy for any of them, but they did it anyway for ‘little Jimmy’.
I would agree that it wasn’t good for my self-esteem or self-confidence either, but that didn’t matter to me. I WAS AFRAID to sleep by myself no matter how embarrassing it was. I would hide it too! I didn’t want anyone knowing I slept in the same bed as my parents.
Around 11 years old, my step-father passed away to be with God and my mother and I were left alone again. We lived in San Antonio, Texas. My brother Bobby was living in Houston and my brother Johnny was living with his wife, Karen, in Odessa. For the most part, we didn’t see them except maybe on some holidays. I would get to see Bobby and his family during the summer when he could fly me down. Needless to say, I didn’t have a very close family and felt alone quite a bit.
My self-confidence was almost non-existent. At this time I would like to point out that my mother was a heavy smoker and back in the early 80’s it wasn’t an issue to smoke in the house as it seems to be today. I was going to junior high school. I just started my 6th grade year and didn’t have any close buddies to move up with me. Actually, I played with the elementary kids who were 2 or 3 years younger than me because I felt like the kids my age didn’t like me. I didn’t think anyone would like ‘little Jimmy’. It didn’t help that the school kids would tease me for smelling like cigarette smoke either. My self-esteem was pretty low and I started missing quite a few days of school. At first, it was easy because if I said I was sick, my mother wouldn’t make me go to school. After a while, the school contacted my mother about my numerous absences and resultant failing grades. Everything was going so bad that during the end of the school year I remember my mother and I meeting with a truant officer who I believe ‘suggested’ putting me into a foster home or some other care if I continued to miss school.
Anyway, I was failing the 6th grade, sleeping with my parents, smelling like smoke, and feeling very unwanted. So, my mother spoke to my brothers. My brother John and his wife, Karen, agreed to let me come live with them in Odessa for the summer. This way I could get away from everything and have a fresh start by going to summer school. They could help me pass and continue to the 7th grade. My mother agreed and I finished my 6th grade year.
That summer, my mother flew me to Odessa. I was sooo excited to stay with my brother, Johnny, and sister-in-law, Karen!! I never really got to spend time with him. I was sooo excited to go to a new school where NO ONE knew me and I could start all over!! When I got to their house, it was such a wonderful place! The house was so spacious and everything looked so nice. They had setup me up with my own room which had this awesomely huge 5′ by 5′ window. As big as it was, the window was pretty safe because it had flat bars going vertically and horizontally across the window every 10 inches. Also, the window was double-paned enclosing the bars. It was soo big, I could lie on my bed and watch people walk or drive by as if I were watching them from the outside. This was going to be wonderful!
Then the first night arrived and it was time to go to sleep. I realized pretty quickly how the sleeping arrangements were going to go. Still, I begged John to let me sleep in his room. Of course there was No Way that was going to happen. John WASN’T going to let me sleep in their room. I cried and pleaded. I begged him to let me sleep on the floor next to him! But, He would NOT let up.
Feeling scared and hopeless, I went to my room. I didn’t know what to do. What if someone broke through that HUGE OPEN 5’ by 5’ window taking up the whole outside wall of my room? Yeah, it was huge and I was SCARED!!! And no one seemed to care. What was I going to do? How was I going to make it through these nights? It was sooo scary to me that I made a palette at the floor to my brother’s bedroom door to sleep, but John caught me and made me go back to my room. He ASSURED me that I was OK. Nothing was going to get to me through the window or the closet or the house. Well, I was still scared!!!
What helped? Well, defeated, I went and lay back down. I started crying and praying to God. I pleaded with Him to help me. As I recall, I started thinking about my G.I. Joes. They were my favorite action figures when I was young. They always protected people. At that time, I wished they were there to protect me. So, I imagined they were going to protect me. I imagined Snake-Eyes at the door to my room ready to take down any Cobra soldiers or monsters. Gung Ho, the Marine, took watch at the HUGE window ready to blast anything with his grenade launcher. Duke made sure my closet was secure. And last but not least, Scarlet stayed by my bed to protect me with her cross-bow. I kept praying and fell asleep…
As the summer went by I continued to struggle. I wasn’t cured overnight. I was stuck in a bad situation trying to deal with some scary things. I tried a couple of different things such as meditation, to focus my thoughts away from scary things, and writing a journal, to reveal my feelings. Through it all, I continued to pray every night. I was doing well in summer school and John was teaching me other responsibilities. I was growing up. At some point, I decided that I was getting too old to believe that G.I. Joe figures were protecting me. They weren’t real. So, God revealed my Guardian Angels to me who could protect me every night as I prayed. They became my watchers as I slept. I started to feel safe. I still ask for Angelic protection to this day. (And for those that know me and my wife, I’m not talking about Angela. At least, I’m not in this case.) But every night I learned to pray for protection with my wife and kids. Through all this that happened, the one thing that always got me through sleeping and finally getting used to it was praying to God.
Now, I could stop here and this would be good enough to show God’s desire to answer our prayers. But, this is only meant to explain how I got started praying to God. See, I was praying every night. I finished summer school with high grades. I went back to San Antonio and I was sleeping in my own bed! I was doing very well. I was feeling very good about myself too. My mother was shocked!
From 12 years old, no longer sleeping with my mother:
Before the summer ended, John and Karen talked my mother into moving to Odessa so they could help her take care of me. So, we moved and I started my 7th grade school year at Nimitz Junior High School in Odessa, TX, which happened to be where I went to summer school!
Things were going very well for me! I was making friends. I was making GREAT grades. I was EVEN sleeping in my own bed. Man, things were going awesome! My mom actually quit smoking! I was feeling real good about myself. I never felt better. I was becoming the person I wanted to be. I prayed every night because I knew God would take care of me. He answered my prayers!
Well, all good stories have a turning point. Mine was a nightmare that woke me from my sleep. It bothered me soo much I couldn’t settle down and get back to sleep, either. The nightmare was about my mother and me. It REALLY worried me. I prayed about it asking God to take it away. I went to my mother and she asked me to tell her about the nightmare:
It was night time. My mother and I were walking down a dark windy road. I knew the road and the scene. I had been down it numerous times with my mother. It was never scary, except in my dream. But in the dream, my mother was walking with me down this road and I felt safe. All of a sudden, a car came driving up behind us. I saw the lights getting bigger as it approached. But I still wasn’t scared because I felt safe with my mom. The car drove up and stopped. From inside, a shadowy figure opened the passenger side door. I couldn’t see who it was, but could recognize from their voice that he was a man. Strangely he wasn’t scary either. So, my mom moved me to get into the car with this stranger, but the calm, re-assuring figure said with a compassionate voice,” I’m sorry Jimmy but you can’t go. I’ve come to take your mother with Me.” Without a second thought, my mother got in the car and I stood there as she rode away with Him.
The nightmare worried me. It didn’t frighten me because of the scene or the figure. See, I didn’t want to lose my mom. I would NOT let anyone take her away from me!!! I was still a ‘Momma’s boy’. And, my mom reassured me that no one would take her away from me. I went to bed and prayed to God to not let any man ever take her away from me.
Over the next few weeks and months, I had the nightmare again. And I had it again. I can’t remember how many times I had the dream. But every time, I prayed and asked God to help me stop having the dream. I didn’t want someone coming in and taking her away. I didn’t understand why I kept dreaming about this.
I don’t know how many people remember Dr. Kevorkian and the ‘Right to Die’ concept that he championed. For those who are not familiar with this concept, as I understand it, it states that a person has the right to commit suicide or undergo voluntary euthanasia, mainly for situations where a person has a terminal illness or some other situation that would leave them disabled on life support.
During the times of my dreams, there were many stories and much controversy about whether people should have the right to euthanize themselves or a relative. I don’t know when it happened, but one of my nights I went into my mother’s room because of my nightmare, she was watching TV and they were talking about Dr. Kevorkian and people who were on life support. My mother seemed unusually worried. One time she asked me to never let her be left on life support. If she couldn’t interact with others, she didn’t want to be left so isolated and alone. She didn’t want to be left alive that way. The thought of it terrified her. Well, I continued to pray to God asking Him to protect us.
One Saturday evening, my mother came over to Karen and John’s house. John and I had been working on the hydraulics for the rooftop to his 1967 Pontiac Firebird Convertible he recently purchased. I was talking to my mom about what we did and how ‘cool’ it was. I was learning to work on cars! I remember that she looked at me and seemed to get dizzy or light-headed. I grabbed onto her and she asked me to help her sit down. I helped her and went into the kitchen to let Karen and John know. I remember telling Karen and John that mom was feeling kind of dizzy. I didn’t think much of it, but Karen, who happens to be a nurse, and John reacted quickly. They knew something was going on. As they rushed around behind me to help mom, I turned to see her having an attack of some sort. I can only say that it seemed like an epileptic attack. My mother was rushed to the hospital. I can’t remember how many nights and days we were there. My other brother, Bobby, and his family came over from Houston to the hospital. I remember seeing my mother lay there breathing, but not responding. I cried and prayed to God asking to save her and not take her away from me.
On April 1, 1984, the doctor asked to speak to the sons (Bobby, John, and me). I was somewhat surprised that they wanted me in the room. See, I was ‘little Jimmy’ and no one usually seemed to care about what I thought or said. The doctor let us know that my mother had suffered an aneurism and had almost no chance of recovery. He said they could keep her on life support, but she was basically in a ‘vegetative’ state. I remember my brothers didn’t seem to know what to do. Well, I knew what the answer was because my mother had told me. So without any hesitation, I let them know that mom was afraid to be left on life support and did NOT want that. Crazier still, they didn’t question or argue what I said either. We let the doctor know and that day my mother was pulled off life support and passed away. I can’t think of much that can still make me cry when I think about it…
As I grew up, I continued to think about my mom. I would miss her and cry. I asked God numerous times WHY He didn’t answer my prayers. WHY did He let her die? WHY did He take her away from me? He didn’t answer my prayers. He just took away people that we loved. He just took away the MOST IMPORTANT person in my LIFE! So, I quit praying.
When I was a teenager, I met a woman who God used to bring me back to Him. I learned about Jesus and was baptized in the Holy Spirit. I started praying again. During one of my times of thinking and crying about my mom, I asked God what I did and WHY He did NOT answer my prayers but took my mom away from me. Slowly, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and revealed some things to me:
- HE was the figure in that car. HE knew all along that this was going to happen. HE took her away from me. HE knew how difficult it would be for me. HE knew what he had to make happen to get me through it.
- I prayed to God to protect my while I slept by myself. He sent His Angels (first as G.I. Joes) to guard me.
- I prayed to God to help me be confident. He moved me to Odessa and gave me a second chance.
- I prayed to God not to take my mother away. He gave me dreams about losing my mother so we could mourn together.
- I prayed to God to protect my mother. He revealed her fears to keep her from being left on left alone on life-support and to join God in Heaven.
- HE knew what my prayers were. HE knew how to answer my prayers. HE answered my prayers!”
Thanks James! For more about prayer and our series, Livin’ on a Prayer go to www.RidgeFellowship.com
For more from James go to his blog at www.jamesvwalsh.wordpress.com