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Many years ago I was a Sunday school teacher for seven-year-old children. I was responsible for preparing them for baptism when they turned eight. One of the lessons I taught required me to line up chairs around the room in a maze. I was to walk the children blindfolded through the maze and to a picture of Christ. As I blindfolded one of the students she looked at me with hesitation and begged, “Please be careful with me Sister Taft.” My heart was touched by her simple statement and a truth was revealed to me…

That is my prayer always, every day of my life.

Please be careful with me Spirit. Please be careful with me. I don’t know what road I’m traveling and I’m uncertain about the obstacles laid out before me, but I will allow you to guide me on my journey. Just please be careful with me. Have mercy on me in my fear and ignorance.

That day I realized how much fear I carried in my heart about what the future held. I had based my opinions on many past experiences that I had suffered. I understood that my life was in my hands. I had the free will to make decisions. And that was the problem. I was sitting in judgment about how well I messed up my life. I was sitting in judgment about what my life looked like. And I was sitting in judgment about all the pain I had recently experienced, which I hoped to never face again. I held tightly to the fearful thought that I would continue down the same dark path. So I asked for mercy from a greater being than myself, hoping I might avoid more pain.

I understand that prayer a bit differently now.

I have learned that I didn’t need to ask Spirit for mercy. I was already viewed from a loving perspective. Love is only ever capable of love. I really only needed to ask myself for mercy. I needed to find compassion in my own heart for me. I needed to release the judgments that weighed me down. Yes, I had experienced some painful things, but what I didn’t realize at the time was how much clarity I had also received about the type of future I desired. In the knowing of what I didn’t want, I more fully understood what I did want. My fear stemmed from my lack of understanding that I was being propelled toward something greater. I am pleased to realize that I got here despite myself.

Looking back on that past prayer I see that, like me, it has transformed and grown in clarity.

My joy and my pain remain in my hands.

It’s only ever my focus that must be directed, and sometimes redirected. Today I can acknowledge the love that is always flowing to me, my ability to be receptive to that love, and the truth that is me. Today my prayer would more accurately say:

I promise I will be careful and kind with me. I am valuable. The roads that I choose to travel on will honor my inner being. I will seek experiences that feel joyful and fulfilling to me. I will not worry myself about avoiding things that are painful. When I find myself feeling that I have gone off course, I will seek clarity about the experiences I would prefer. I will guide myself on this journey with love and compassion. I will walk in trust, acknowledging that all experiences I have enhance and broaden my perspective. I will seek and find clarity in all areas of my life. And most of all, I will be merciful with me.

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