while sorting through my old files and reorganizing my book cases recently, i chanced upon a little book my sister, Honey, gave me three years ago, soon after i left my marriage and i knocked on their door for temporary shelter, as i tried to get my bearings and discerned what i wanted to do next with my life.
it's "The Prayer of Jabez" by Bruce Wilkinson.
this little book helped me through my darkest times. basically Mr. Wilkinson tries to illustrate in the book how Jabez' little prayer for himself shifts paradigms and transforms worlds.
Jabez stands out in the Bible not for any major accomplishment of his, nor for any outstanding character or personality trait he possessed, but for this one little prayer he made. he is actually mentioned only once in probably the most boring part of the Bible, in Chronicles, where the writer lists a long catalogue of names and their descendants. but the writer pauses in his droning when he comes to Jabez, and mentions the fact that he is more honorable than his brothers, that his name means "pain" because his mother bore him in pain, and then, of course, the little prayer he prayed. after this, the writer continues with his long ancestral cataloguing again.
Wilkinson points out that things started out badly for Jabez (imagine being named "Pain"!) but because of this one extraordinary prayer, things turned out extraordinarily well. Wilkinson points out how Jabez' prayer is an example of supreme childlike faith in the Bigness and Generosity and Wisdom of an All-Loving God, who yearns to give us Abundance if only we ask for it and long for it and seek for it, if only we will it.
And, looking back at the past three years of my life, things have turned out extraordinary well indeed!
when i started out praying the Jabez prayer daily, these were only what my heart desired--
1. to survive and keep a home and a life for my self and my children; earn enough on my own to take care of my kids and i;
2. to update bills;
3. to pay off all debts from the marriage (the deal was i get the house and the kids but i get to pay all debts too) and get back on my feet again;
4. to at least get the annulment case underway as soon as possible; and
5. to learn more about men and life and love and become wiser next time.
at the end of three years and looking back at how ive journeyed so far, here is what i actually got--
1. got out of survival mode; am actually now developing multiple income streams from my research, writing and consultancy!
2. bills updated; sometimes i even pay in advance! : )
3. all but one (credit card) debt has been paid, and which i hope to pay off by the end of this year;
4. my struggles as a separated woman and a single parent led me to write a children's story which won the Philippine Board of Books for Young People Alfredo Salanga Prize in 2004 and which got published nationally!
5. my marriage actually got annulled without my having to spend a centavo nor appear in court, and in a year and a half's time!
6. a lot of learning about men and life and love, and the cherishing and love of one good man now, and the respect and affection of many friends, both men and women!
what does the Jabez prayer say, and what does it mean in my own translation?
Oh that You would bless me, indeed! (i don't care where i came from or who ive been, who i am or who i could only be based on my past-- bless me, bless me, bless me LOTS!!! You are God, bless me ALL the blessings you can bless me with!!!)
And enlarge my territory; (Guide me as you bless me, God, that i may do more for You and that through me, others may be as blessed too!!!)
That Your Hand would be with me, (Guide me as You bless me God, and help me use Your blessings well...)
And that You would keep me safe from evil. (Keep me away from evil, and keep me away from causing evil to others, too.)
Amen. (So be it!!!)
and here are the desires of my heart for the next three years now--
1. a room of our own, for each of the kids and i, and a more beautiful home together;
2. a better-functioning car or van for the kids and i, so we don't have problems on the road, especially when it rains very hard;
3. pay off the last remaining credit card debt so i am officially financially sound and credit-worthy again (not that i intend to live a credit card lifestyle again! it's more of an external affirmation of my getting back on my feet at last.)
4. a Disneyworld Christmas in 2006 or a Disneyworld Summer (april-may) in 2007 for the kids and i, and so we can visit my mom in Georgia too (i think id rather have the Disneyworld summer, as summer 2007 is also my summer free, i get to go on leave with pay for two months!)
5. the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA) Writer's Grant 2005 (winning the grant means i get to take a paid year off from my day job to just concentrate on writing 15 stories!) and the PBBY Salanga Prize 2006 (write more beautiful, touching and universal stories for children and plant my own little seeds for better futures!)
6. stable and more multiple income streams, so my money can start working for me now, and i can concentrate more on doing what i love more independently (freelance writing, research and consultancy; a simple home life with the kids, being close to nature, learning how to cook and garden well, doing my aikido and belly dancing and my peace studies and literary studies and creative writing ...)
Oh, that You would bless me indeed!
And enlarge my territory;
That Your Hand would be with me,
And that You would keep me safe from evil.