Over the years I have said many prayers to God, and I haven’t always gotten the answers I wanted. When I was a little boy I prayed for my lost dog, Duke to come back home but he never did. When I was in high school I prayed that I would become a big football star, but God had other plans. In college I prayed to become a huge success and be both rich and famous. Thirty years later I am still waiting on that one. When I married I prayed that my children would be healthy, happy, and smart. Yet, my two sons were both born with Autism and mental retardation. While they are often happy everyday is still a struggle for them. As my sons were growing up I prayed time and time again for God to heal them and make them normal. Instead, He used them to heal my own soul and teach me patience, acceptance, and love.

What I have learned from all of these unanswered prayers is that what we most want isn’t always what we most need. We muddle through this world trying to find purpose and love.

God, however, sees the vast tapestry of our lives and how they connect with the lives of countless others. God also sees clearly where we have been and where we are going. He lovingly guides us on our eternal path of growth and answers the prayers that most strengthen our souls and help us to love.

Losing Duke helped me to open my heart to the love of many other dogs and people. It also helped me to deal better with the later deaths of my Mom, Nana, and Dad. Being a football star in high school would have been horrible for me. My ego needed shrinking and my kindness needed growing. Being a bench warmer did both. As for being a big success in the eyes of the world, I think God thought it more important that I become a success in the eyes of Heaven first.

While my two sons were never healed of their Autism, they have become a light in my life that brings love to my heart and joy to my days. They continue to teach me and all those they meet lessons on living and loving that are priceless.

I have found too that my prayers have changed a lot over the years. Now instead of asking for things I want I ask God to help me to do His will and to be the person He meant for me to be.

My main two prayers are “Thank you God for my life” and “Please help all of us to Love.”

May all of your prayers lead you to greater faith, greater joy, and greater oneness with God.

May all of your prayers strengthen you on your journey through this life and into the next. May all of your prayers connect you forever with Love.

Joseph J. Mazzella

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