Every now and then someone I know (and occasionally someone I don't) will approach me and ask to pray for Virginia's healing. Usually they want to lay hands on her, anoint her with oil, and ask the Lord to make her walk and talk. I grabbed onto every one of these opportunities at the beginning of Sissy's life. I eagerly watched her for signs of change as different individuals laid hands on her and pleaded with God for her complete and total restoration.

I always appreciate it when anyone feels led to pray for Virginia. It is good for my soul when God puts her on another's heart. But it has been a long time since I have prayed for her complete and total healing. Don't get me wrong- I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt the God is capable of such an act, but I also believe that that is not his typical modus operandi on this earth. If I am totally honest, I will even admit that I don't know anyone who has been miraculously healed from catastrophic injury. I know people who have done better than they should have or lived longer than predicted, but I personally have never witnessed a miracle in that sense.

Obviously, my heart still longs for Virginia's earthly healing, but God has brought me to a place where I long for something even greater. I have realized that even if God healed Virginia's body today, tomorrow would present with troubles of its own, and I would be back on my knees, begging for another miracle.

There are countless times each day when my heart cries out for mercy for Virginia- when her jaw gets stuck open and she winces in pain, when her body won't hold still and she screams for hours trying to fall asleep, when she is sick and struggling to cough with the vigor the rest of us possess. I am her mother and I will never be immune to even an ounce of her suffering. Yet without articulating those requests for mercy, without even thinking them in an organized fashion, I know that the holy spirit hears and interprets them and carries them to the Father.

Gradually over the last six years, God has taught me that I have to long for something greater than earthly perfection. I have to long for something that isn't temporary, for something that can't be annihilated by the consequences of the fall. What I have to long for is Him.

When Virginia was not quite six months old, a woman in Montgomery approached me about praying for Virginia. She was someone I knew socially and was friends with several older women in our church. She was a little eccentric, but I liked her, and several people said that she had the gift of healing. I believe in spiritual gifts and I also knew that this woman's faith was sincere, so I agreed to take Sissy to her house for prayer.

The day before we went, Sissy had her first episode of infantile spasms. They are not like any seizure I had ever seen or read about, and I wasn't sure what I had witnessed the first time it happened. We were standing in the back yard of my neighbor's house, and Virginia bobbed her head forward three times, with about two seconds in between each bob. If it hadn't been for the rhythm of the movements, I probably wouldn't have noticed. I immediately went home and called the neurologist who told me to let her know immediately if it happened again. When infantile spasms start out they are fairly infrequent, but by the end of the first week, they can happen hundreds of times a day.

The neurologist didn't tell me what she feared, but assured me if anything were truly going on, she felt confident it would declare itself pretty quickly. I tried not to think about what I had seen and the next morning loaded Virginia into my car and drove to the woman's house so she could pray for her. There were five women there, all mature in their faith and ready to ask the Lord for a miracle. They laid hands on Virginia, anointed her with oil and boldly approached the throne.

We had been praying for about five minutes when Virginia had her second episode of infantile spasms. This one was much worse than the first- she bobbed her head forward at least twenty times and she began crying out in fear. I left and went straight to the neurologist's office and received the diagnosis of infantile spasms that afternoon.

I have thought a lot about the timing of that day. In a moment when my hopes were raised for healing because a team of women I trusted had assembled to pray for Virginia, another blow to her future came crashing down. It was ironic at best. Now please read this carefully- I don't for a minute think that God caused Virginia to have those seizures at precisely that moment so that my perception of prayer would be challenged. God doesn't cause cancer, He doesn't orchestrate car wrecks, and He doesn't send seizures to little six month old babies. Those things are the result of the fall and of the sin that entered the world; God is not the author of sin and scripture is very clear that He weeps along with us.

On that day God began the long (and not yet complete) process of teaching me what true healing looks like. I began to gradually let go of my laundry list of requests for Virginia (Lord, heal her brain, take away her seizures, let her walk, let her talk, let her sleep at night, etc) and started to seek the one thing we are truly in need of. We don't see the picture clearly and we forget how fleeting this life is. Virginia may be more perfect with all her injuries than an Olympic athlete decked out in all his medals.

If people ask me, I will admit that I don't feel called to pray for Virginia's total healing any more. I feel like the Lord has lead me down a different path. For starters, I don't want her to think she is anything less than perfect. I don't want Sissy to always be hearing people ask God to change her, to make her better; I want her to know she is absolutely beautiful just the way she is. When I pray for Virginia, I ask God to draw her closer to Him all the days of her life and to help her begin to see things with eternal perspective. The fact that I have gotten to the place where I no longer seek total physical healing for Virginia is a true miracle and evidence of what God can do in our hearts in the midst of suffering.

(Note: Clearly the issue of prayer is tough to address in just one post, especially when the writer of the post hasn't slept more than 3 consecutive hours since a week ago Thursday. I would imagine that prayer will be a frequent topic on absgab. Check back for more coherent musings and comments are welcome.)