Are You There God? Its Me, Kaity.
"Okay look, I've been praying the same thing for months now, and while I think I know what you're telling me, I just really need an obvious sign. So if you wouldn't mind, it would really, really help me if you could just give me a clear signal this one time. Let me know if I'm hearing you right."
I was driving around last week, praying out loud. That's where I pray most these days - in the car and on the couch at night, just as Hope and I are falling asleep. I still feel badly about how different my prayer practice looks from the way it was before this whole mess, but I try to remember all the reasons my spiritual director and my uncle tell me its okay for it to look different right now.
The subject of our conversation was a prayer I had adopted several months back now. Something has been weighing heavily on my heart, and I had been asking God to take that heaviness from me if it was His will that the book be closed on the situation that was sitting there like a boulder. But, my prayer continued, if His will was that this situation have another chapter, that he leave my heart open to it - even if that meant living with some degree of ongoing pain for a time.
Months later now, the pain remains. Maybe that should have been answer enough. But I needed to be sure.
God heard me, and less than five minutes later my car drove by His very obvious answer to my prayer.
* * *
Years ago, I clipped a quote from the transcript of a sermon and hung it over the mirror in my dressing room:
The problem for many of us, concerning our faith, occurs when we confuse God's timing with our own.
[Sidebar - A definite perk of being single, childless, and owning a home slightly too big for you? An entire room dedicated to your shoes, tutus (yes that's plural), and eye shadow.]
I read this quote every day. I don't remember now who gave the sermon or where I clipped it from, but there it sits, reminding me that God's timing is not mine. And that there is nothing at all I can do to speed His will along.
You'd think it would have sunk in by now.
But that would make life a lot less interesting, I suppose.
* * *
Even though God gave me a clear sign regarding His will, reminding me that He has it all handled and I shouldn't waste my time worrying, my head has been a swirl of wondering and questioning for the past several days. I was stuck in a negative head space and it was spiraling out of control.
I talked to my sponsor. I reached out to program friends. I went for a walk. I prayed. I journaled. I read the right things, listened to the right things. Even so, my brain would not shut up.
Meanwhile, Sunday found me back in the church I had been avoiding. Its so waterlogged with memories of the months before my diagnosis that going there is still hard. But while there are a number of things that are still a bit too difficult for me to do when it comes to serving others right now, being a part of their prayer team isn't one of them, so one Sunday a month, I go back to that place to pray with those who need it. And this Sunday my turn was up again.
It would also turn out to be the Sunday that our pastor's message was about powerlessness.
I mean - he actually quoted Step 1 - admitted that we are powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
I've said before here that I feel a bit like God registered me for the AP class in powerlessness without asking me if I actually wanted to take it. Well, this pretty much sealed the deal on that for me.
And also reminded me that God knows when we need yet another reminder that He has it all under control. There is nothing we can do to change that.
That we are powerless over a lot more than alcohol.
* * *
Hope and I are working on a new morning routine. Its part of what I have come to refer to as Project Try To Get Off The Couch. This project also involves getting my bedroom ready for reoccupancy and starting to eat real food again. We both eat breakfast on the deck - Hope carrying out her routine stick collection procedure while I spend some time in the Bible and my daily devotionals.
Despite how clear God's been with me lately, and everything I should already know, I was [am] still feeling frustrated that I wasn't seeing answers to so many of my prayers. Now. When I want them.
On Monday, one of my devotionals addressed this head on:
For some who pray, expecting an answer, it takes a long time to learn that delays of answers are not denials. In fact, in the "Delayed Blessing Office," there are deep secrets of love and wisdom that we have never imagined! We tend to want to pick our blessings from the tree while they are still green, yet God wants us to wait until the are fully ripe.
Streams in the Desert, July 4 (emphasis in original).
The Delayed Blessing Office. Well, at least I knew where my prayers were hung up.
But putting the clever name aside, I saw the point. And if I am completely honest with myself (and all of you), I am 100 times more prepared now for the things I have prayed so hard for today than I was five years ago. Than I was four months ago. I needed this experience. As much as I hate that fact. It was necessary. It is still necessary - I know there is probably more that I need to learn before God can send those blessings down here - before they will be ripe.
Even admitting this, I woke up today still wondering - did it really have to go this way? Do I really need to learn this much? And was this amount of pain truly necessary to accomplish it?
And then, still working to convince me of something that should take no convincing, I was pointed to this verse from Acts:
He did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.
As I sat there soaking in the direct impact of those words on my heart, I caught sight of Hope, who had caught sight of something in the trees.
Three cardinals. Sitting right there. Staring at me.
Yes, God is here.
He always is.