Usually when I write a column I write the title first and then plan my thoughts around that title. I know that’s not the right way to go about things. I learned that in high school creative writing. You should always have a plan. A chosen path to follow to find what you seek. But tough! I am a rebel! I defy authority! I take risks! I step out of my comfort zone! Pfft! I do it simply because it’s habit.
Hmm…How interesting that the last word of my first paragraph is habit. H-A-B-I-T. A word that brings to mind comfort, well-being, a sense of solitude, happiness. Habit. Remember that, it might mean something later on in this column. Then again it might not, but remember it just incase!
Have you ever had an epiphany? Something that draws you in, makes you think twice, maybe take a new look at things? Makes, you as they say, finally see the light? It might not be as obvious as a light bulb going on over your head. Perhaps not as straight forward as being hit by a train (hopefully it’s less painful too!), but it happens. One day you wake up and something is just different. Suddenly, you have an understanding of something and you realize all these little things that have happened lead you right to that epiphany.
My epiphany happened slowly. Tiny little “Hello! I’m here!” messages floating around my life, gently caressing my brain cells. My epiphany had to be sensitive, still has to be because I have held it at bay for quite some time and I’m sure it’s not wanted to put too much pressure on me. My epiphany is God.
Yes, I believe in God. Yes, I’m a Christian. No, I do not practice a specific religion. For many years I have believed that organized religion was a farce. I mean, what kind of God would say “Only THIS TYPE of religion is going to Heaven. The rest of you? Well, I guess you just made poor choices!”? I cannot process that in my mind and please for the sake of my sanity, do not send me any emails with your theories because after 22 years believe me, I have heard them all. I believe God touches people in ways that will serve Him best and that ultimately each of us will find some kind of peace with that. I have practiced the belief graciously passed on from my father that my relationship with God is personal and I do not need to sit in a church to develop it.
And my epiphany has proven that.
We all go about our lives wanting, needing and ‘praying’ (also known as asking) for things. My daughter is often called Ms.Wannaneedahavtahave because she’s constantly ‘in dire need’ of something. That about sums up my prayers to God. Yup. In a nutshell.
“Dear God, please help my mother get better. Please keep my family safe. Please let our house sell for the price we want so we can buy the big house in Dunmoor by our friends. Please remind my husband that I want a two carat diamond for our 6th anniversary.” You know what I’m talking about. (No, I didn’t really ask for the two carat diamond. Honest!) And when we don’t get what we want, we get mad at God. We get frustrated and wonder, “Why us? Why does this always happen? Why can’t I just have what I want? Why can’t things go right for me?”
My house is on the market. We’re trying to move into a bigger house so our daughters can have separate rooms, my husband’s office doesn’t have to be in the spare room and my mother can move in with us instead of being in an assisted living facility. All fairly valid reasons to want a new home. Right? So here we are, going through the daily clean-the-house-because-the-realtor-is-coming-to-show-it-and-they-might-make-an-offer-and-we-can-move motions hoping, wishing, wanting, praying we’ll get an offer! And we were there! Yahoo! A nice couple came and looked at the house. They loved it. They came and looked at the house again. More love was felt. They came with pad and paper and spent two flippin’ hours in the house. Then they did the same thing next door and WHAM! An offer went out to our neighbors.
“Dear God, what the heck did you go and do that for?”
Next day. Jack’s job. Gone. Kaput.
Hmm…Now I think I’m getting it.
So my next prayer? “Dear God, please let my husband get a job so we can feed our kids and pay our bills and let us sell this house so we can move and get a bigger house in the subdivision where Shelly and Peter live because we really like that community.”
No job. No offer on the house or for employment. Nothing. Did I expect it to simply drop from the sky? Did I expect to hear God say, in that deep voice they use in commercials, “Your wish? My command.” Um, no. It doesn’t work that way.
So here I sat one night, up until the wee hours of the morning feeling frustrated, anxious and scared. My life is at a standstill. I can’t move forward because I don’t know what forward is. Are we moving to another state? Possibly. We’ll go where the work is. What if we get an offer on the house? Do we take it? It’s not easy to buy a new house when you’ve got no income coming in. Do we take it off the market? If we do that and Jack gets a job then we’ve wasted time in a good buying season. Decisions, decisions, decisions.
The next morning, after approximately a whopping hour of sleep, I woke up with the feeling that everything would work out okay. I’d spent a week wallowing in my self destruction and was over it. I made a decision to be in a good mood and just deal with what was happening as it happened. I renewed my faith.
My prayers changed. No more “please give us” and a lot more of “Okay, Dear God. I’m not sure what’s going on, but whatever it is, I know you’re going to have it work out the way that is best for us, even if we don’t know that while it’s happening. I’ve got faith that Jack will find a job soon because he is a smart, talented and an extremely marketable professional and I believe you would not have brought us through all that we’ve been through to lead us here without a solution. You know what I want, but honestly I don’t know what the heck you want so all I ask is that whatever it is, would you please just give me a sign or two to help me go down the right path and make the right choices? Help me be okay with everything.”
I’ve been talking to God more these days. Yes, I’ve always prayed. I’ve always felt a relationship with God and I’ve always tried to live by a code of ethics representative of what I believe God requests in the Bible. Am I always successful? Nope. Not very often actually. But I try, which is all I can do. Admittedly, those times when things aren’t going my way I find myself angry with Him, asking “Why me?”
I think all that my family is going through is being used by God as a way of saying, “Carolyn, I’m here and you haven’t really seen me lately so I’ve got to throw myself in your face and once you’re done being mad at me and feeling sorry for yourself you’ll see that I’m here for you.” Maybe He feels as though He needs to show me that I need Him.
The season finale of Joan of Arcadia really summed up what I’ve been feeling. The exact script escapes me, but in summary, Joan’s mother began to think of all that has happened in their lives and realized that God is basically taken for granted when things are going well but when things are not, we feel distance from Him. We find blame in him. We put that distance there, not Him. We feel the distance because we’re angry, frustrated, scared. But the truth is during that time God is there, seeking us out, trying to get us to see him. In despair we find him. This is what leads us to God.
This is what He’s been trying to tell me. I’ve had to have my life, my habits and yes my security pulled out from under me to really see what this is all about. It’s not about Jack losing him job. It’s not about my mother moving in with us or buying a bigger house. It’s about taking a step in the right direction and reconnecting with God. He’s been sitting and waiting and has had enough. Action was taken and WHAM! Epiphany hit!
I went to church last Sunday. As I sat, I shook mildly with fear that lightening would strike and the church would burst into flames as I sat and mouthed the words to a gospel song. No lightening. An hour later I picked my son up in his Sunday School room and left without a scratch. No Holy Rollers grabbed me and tried to spray me with Holy Water. No cult-like crazies attacked me and told me they knew the key to my salvation. As a matter of fact, the only person who did talk to me was a woman I used to work with.
I survived a full hour in a
church. Will I go again? Sure. Maybe not right away, but I’ll go. Do I
believe now that I must attend church to have a relationship with God? No.
I don’t. I still believe that my relationship with Him is personal. It’s
just got to be a little more personal than it has been.
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