I have eight unfinished blog posts sitting in my draft folder, waiting for me to flush out why it was I felt the topics were important in the first place. Over the past month, I would start one, get a few sentences in, and ask myself what the point was. Why did I feel compelled to write about a particular subject? I kept getting hung up, stuck, uncertain about how to proceed.
I know that what was truly holding me back was that this topic has been on the forefront of my mind and I had to get it out before I could move on to anything else.
In the current season of my life, my prayer list is full of some pretty heavy prayer requests and concerns. They involve big things for myself and for my husband: prayers for the direction of my career, for our family, for my husband’s career, for our future house hunting, just to name a few. I feel like there are so many things that are just up in the air and we don’t have a clear direction of who/what/where/when, etc.
I’ve struggled with this post because, honestly, writing about bringing my concerns to God makes me feel selfish. Plus, it could very easily be construed that praying for “direction in careers” means we’re looking for new jobs: that is not true. It’s simply that I’ve felt certain callings on my life, and my husband has felt callings on his. We’re trying to figure out what it means.
It doesn’t stop with us, but with the big requests of our family and friends and the things that we’ve been praying for them. When I look at my monthly prayer list, it seems daunting. My heart knows that God will answer each prayer, but my mind can’t fathom how it will work out.
And then this past month, a few things happened:
- We found out that my husband’s taxes were paid incorrectly, and we were going to owe a large amount of money for 2016.
- A diamond fell out of my wedding band, and I had to contact the company we purchased it from to find out how to fix it.
- I went to the Employee Spiritual Retreat for employees at my job location.
Small details in the grand scheme of life.
For the past year, my husband and I have said September: we’ve been looking at houses, checking out the area we want to live, praying for direction, and planning to officially start the process in the fall. We know we won’t BUY a house in September, and we may be underestimating the amount of money that needs to be saved to make such a large purchase, but that has been our month.
When we sat down to do our taxes together, I was a bit heartbroken to find out how much we owed. It would mean going into our savings, cutting into the time when we felt we could start the process. I’ve been trying to live under the mantra that our finances are controlled by God, and if our timing doesn’t work, then it’s not His plan. When I told my mother about our tax woes, she agreed to go through them together and help us out.
During a department cleaning and organizing day, my engagement ring and wedding band were in my back pocket. At lunch, I took out my rings, I noticed that a diamond had fallen out of my band. I was of course distraught, but was assured by my coworkers that it was an easy fix. They even tried to help me find the tiny stone (but there are 17 on a size 7 band, so you know they are teeny tiny). We couldn’t find it, but with their assurances, I contacted the company in Chicago where my husband had purchased my band.
When we went through our taxes with my mother, it was as we expected: we were going to owe a lot of money. She asked us to give her some time to calculate what deductions we were missing and try to work out a lower number for us. I’m not going to deny free tax help!
I contacted the company about my wedding band, and at the same time expressed some concern about the center stone on my engagement ring, also purchased through that company. To make a LONG (it would take thousands of words to explain) process short, the company quoted me a fee of a few hundred dollars to fix my wedding and engagement rings, but only after I had confirmed from a woman named Anita from the company that sells the center stones that the concerns I had were due to the design of the ring and not improper wear. I was pretty disheartened with the price (plus another $60 in shipping to and from Chicago).
A week or two after my mother initially started her tax search for us, she called and told us our final amount–half of what we thought we would originally owe, with a couple bucks back from state taxes. I don’t think I expressed this to her enough, but we were so grateful for all of the tax codes she read, all of the constant questions she asked in order to work out a better amount for us. Just another example of how my mother is amazing.
By the time I received the final quote from the jeweler, I had become friendly with Anita. She wanted to know how much the jeweler in Chicago was going to charge me, and wanted me to keep her updated, so I sent her the estimate and asked her opinion. At the same time I went to a local jeweler, who looked at the estimate for my missing stone and said they would do the repair and all the “detail” work I was quoted for a fourth of the price, plus no shipping costs. I told Anita about the deal for my wedding ring, and she said she might also be able to help me. Anita offered to have her company jeweler fix my engagement ring for free: all I had to do was pay for shipping the ring to them. I was shocked. Instead of paying a few hundred dollars in fees and shipping, I was getting everything taken care of for less than $80.
At the beginning of April, my employer held a Spiritual Retreat for all of the employees in the building. I was excited to go because 1) it was held at a camp in NJ, 2) I didn’t have to go into work, 3) free lunch, and 4) it was a SPIRITUAL retreat (all day with God, whoo hoo!). I signed up for four different sessions, and right after lunch I went to “Sacred Pathways” based on the book by Gary Thomas. In the session, we took the time to discover in what ways we connect with God (I’ll have to write a post about that experience at another time!). Part of my top 3 was connecting through nature.
Suddenly, it clicked: all of the times that I have truly felt like I was in close communion to God was when I was sitting on a dock, by a lake, with my prayer journal and my Bible, just being in His presence. And in the moment, I realized that since moving to this area of NY, I’ve not found any place I could do that.
That afternoon, I went down to the dock on the small lake on camp, and I prayed, and I asked God to give me a place where I could go to be connected with Him. Now, I knew it wouldn’t be an everyday thing, but just someplace where I knew I could go and be with Him and experience that connection. Since that day I’ve prayed for that spot.
On Monday, I went to my 4:30 class at the gym, then drove straight to Rockland Lake State Park. I got there at 6pm, so parking was free. I drove past the spot I had in mind, then turned around and parked at the lot closest to it. It was a 7 minute walk to the bench by the lake, where the view was stretched out before me. I prayed for a few minutes, listened to God, and wrote down everything I felt. Out of the three pages of notes I took that day, I felt God say Here. This is your spot.
What do these three things have in common? Two are about finances and timing, one is about connecting with God. They all were in my thoughts for a few weeks, and they were all on my prayer list for the same duration.
God answered every one of these prayers. He didn’t have to: but I feel like God was teaching me an important lesson.
On that bench at the lake, I felt God say, You have a lot of big things on your list. You know I’m in them. Now look at the small. I care about that too.
Yes, I had always been taught that God cares about every matter, but could God really care about my wedding band? It’s just a ring. Yes, it holds significance to me, but if it disappeared tomorrow, would I no longer be married? Would something terrible happen? No, and the repair was disheartening, but had to be done.
With our taxes, we have been diligently saving what we can for months. I was upset for a moment, but I turned it over to God immediately and chocked it up to His control over our finances and our future.
I can’t help but think, how selfish of me to pray over these things and bother God with my finances when others are not worried about how to pay for a ring, but put food on the table. But God still wants me to bring that concern to Him.
Here on earth, we’ll never understand God’s overall plan, but I know he had this promise for me, and I had to pay attention and learn because something else is coming. I know there is a reason for each of his lessons.
So I’m committing each small, minuscule, selfish thing to Him, because He wants me to, and I’m trusting there will be a lesson in each answered prayer. And I’m praying he gives me more small, minuscule, unselfish things to pray about.
If you made it this far, please comment a prayer I can pray for you, no matter how small. I know God will answer it for you today.