Last week a friend was telling me about a job she’s interviewing for. As we talked through her pros and cons list, we discussed how even if she gets the new job and loves it, she will still have days where she misses her old job. She’ll have to grieve that loss, even if God answers her prayers with a new job.
I think this grieving process happens sometimes when God answers a prayer we’ve been praying for a long time. A friend of mine got married, and I remember her telling me how hard those first few months were. At the time I thought, God answered your prayer and gave you what you wanted! Why can’t you just be happy about it? Now that I’ve experienced the same thing myself, I get where she was coming from. Even though I prayed for marriage and family for over a decade, I still found myself grieving the loss of my single life.
That doesn’t mean that marriage isn’t awesome or that I’m unhappy that God answered my prayer. Not at all. I just had to grieve the end of the previous season.
When God answers a prayer that involves a big life change — such as a new relationship, a new baby, a new job, a new church, or any other new thing — it can feel like our entire identity is shifting. And it’s OK to grieve that. Actually, it’s healthy and necessary to mourn the former things as we transition into the new things. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” And many times we’ll experience grief as we leave a season behind, no matter how excited we are about the answer God has given us.
My husband and I are going to have a baby soon — a baby we prayed for every day for the nine months it took for us to get pregnant. There were many days of tears as I wondered each month if it was even possible, or if infertility would be part of God’s story for our marriage.
Naturally, we were overjoyed when we found out our family was growing. But at the same time, we’ve grieved the loss of our newlywed days. The change is a welcome one, but I know there will be times when we miss our the spontaneity we had as newlyweds. That doesn’t take away from God’s glory in answering our prayers for a family. Instead, it reminds us to pray for grace and wisdom as we navigate taking on the role of parents and figuring out how to raise a tiny human being.
If you’re struggling with conflicting emotions about an answered prayer, take heart! The God who was faithful to hear your prayers and move on your behalf will be faithful to help you embrace the answer. As you step into the new thing God has called you to, remember that He will be with you in the transition, too.