“Now I lay me down to sleep. Bless mommy and daddy. Make my brothers stop pestering me and God, please, please, please don’t let Elvis Presley marry anyone until I grow up!”
In 1960, at eight-years-old, my first true love was the “King” himself. This intense infatuation inspired my initial experiences in negotiating with the Almighty. “Dear God,” I’d pray. “I promise to be a good girl for the rest of my life if You grant me this one wish…” Even though those prayers fell on deaf ears, (Elvis found another “hunk of burning love” in the form of Priscilla), I never gave up bartering.
Years later, my budding sexuality took me far from the unattainable super star to the handsome boy sitting next to me in religion class. Again I’d pray, “Ok God, this one’s really it! Please make him notice me.” Yet my prayers seemed to dance on the wind like a delicate feather being tossed about with no place to land.
Adulthood brought far more important things to worry about. I found myself needing God’s help with everything from soul-searching to my dwindling finances. “Dear God,” I’d pray again. “If you let me win the lottery, I promise to keep only enough to support myself and the rest I’ll donate to charity.” My familiar refrain seemed to have grown up with me too – I felt these unanswered prayers become urgent, real and sometimes desperate.
Then, in the summer of 1993, I heard a song by Garth Brooks. He sang, “Because He doesn’t answer don’t mean He don’t care. Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”
In that moment, I reminisced about a young man in college that I’d been crazy about. I thought he was the “man of my dreams” and we did the on-again-off-again dance for eight years. Each time we broke up, I prayed that our paths would one day intertwine, like the branches of a wisteria vine, solid and strong. Instead, my children’s father soared into my life and swept me off my feet. So, I let go of that sturdy vine, climbed into a hot air balloon, and held on tight for the ride of my life.
Frequently, I repeat Garth’s words to myself, especially when life isn’t going the way I want it to go. I truly believe it was God’s plan that I married this man and not the other. Together we created, nurtured and loved four outstanding human beings that have brought me tremendous joy. It was also my destiny that my marriage end. Through divorce, I discovered treasures that would have remained hidden if I continued on the path I was traveling. I would have never have started my career in real estate, nor would I’ve become a writer.
I was once told that “where we are in any moment is exactly where God wants us to be” whether we like it or not. All my painful experiences have proven this to be correct. When the fog lifted and the sun shone again there was an “aha” moment and the reason for my journey.
This Thanksgiving, I’ll give gratitude for all the blessings in my life – my friends, family and especially my children. I’ll also continue to pray for the lottery (hey, you just never know!), and I’ll give special thanks to God for all that He brings my way daily, especially my unanswered prayers for those have been my greatest gifts of all.