Some of you know I went away last weekend. I don’t go away that often so when I do, I try to make the most of it. My church is one of the larger churches in Southern California. It’s not a mega-church. But it’s big. And I love it.
I’ve been there since Dot was six months old. We took a brief hiatus when she was dating the son of the Pastor of another church, but ours still felt like home so we came back.
I’ve learned a lot through my church. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some wonderful, beautifully helpful, supportive people. I’ve also met some who aren’t all, or even any, of those things. I’ve been both at times.
One thing that has remained consistent is the instruction to pray.
- Pray without ceasing [1 Thesssalonians 5:17]
- Pray boldly and specifically [Hebrews 4:16]
- Pray for others [Acts 13:3]
- Pray for your enemies [Matthew 5:44]
- Pray with thanksgiving [Colossians 1:3]
- When you don’t know how or what to pray, ask the Spirit to pray for you [Romans 8:26]
For years, I’ve turned my “To Do” list over to Christ. After all, He’s the husband to the widow and the father to the fatherless. He’s the Head of My Household. So when something needs doing, I put it on The List and pray about it, and try my best to not stress over it.
I knew in January that I wanted ~ needed ~ to get to Retreat. I also knew, on paper, it was impossible. So I didn’t bother to put it on The List. I mentioned that I’d like to go. But I don’t think I actually prayed about it. Until ten days before the Retreat.
I was at church for a bible study when I decided to go talk to the secretary for Women’s Ministries. Who just so happens to be the mother of my writing partner… not that I was hoping she could pull any strings to get me there, but if she tried… well I wasn’t going to stop her.
So. Ten days before the Retreat and I finally decide to ask about it. I have no money for such a thing. And they’re all booked up anyway. But we agreed it didn’t cost anything but a few minutes of time to fill out the registration form and so I did. She said I was Number 47 on the Waiting List.
And I said, quite boldly (shocking myself as well!), “Well, then. We just need to pray that one person cancels and 46 others decide they have something better to do that weekend.”
And less than 48 hours before the Retreat, that’s exactly what happened!
I got the call on Wednesday night that there was not only a spot available, but the person who canceled wanted to gift her reservation to someone else. And I fit the bill. The next day and a half were a whirlwind as I pushed myself to finish my own To-Do List before leaving for the weekend. It was also the weekend of Dot’s school play which thankfully was also performed on Thursday so I got to enjoy her dressed up as a western maid and speaking with a twangy accent. [You haven't heard anything 'til you've heard Dot say "y'all"... this white girl can't do an accent to save her life. It was really quite... cute.]
I wanted to clean the house so Dot could enjoy her weekend of freedom as well. I went to the grocery store to get her some decent snackage. I had to do laundry and pack and make sure any important notes were written… it was a very busy less-than-two days.
And then I was at Retreat and holding my breath for the Big Whammy that I knew would come. I mean, it had to. After the way I so boldly prayed and God so directly answered. There had to be a Big Whammy of a lesson… right?!
Friday night came and went. It was wonderful. Our guest speaker was Cindi McMenamin, an author and national speaker. She wrote and spoke in a way that caught my attention from the get-go, and I’m going to write a blog post on her [WITH A BOOK GIVEAWAY!] in the next few days, so stay tuned for that.
But as amazing, informative, thought-provoking and compelling as Friday was, I didn’t feel that Big Whammy. Sure, I was getting spiritually fed. But there wasn’t that a-ha! moment that made me know this is why God brought me here.
There were joyous women, women in crises, women wanting to talk, women isolating themselves. And I was… just there. I had no great crises [thank you, Lord!]. I didn’t feel I needed to take the spotlight, and I was more than happy to sit back with my friends and listen to them and be there for them. One of my roommates and I realized we’d known each other for years peripherally, and now we are very close. Funny how 48 hours can do that.
But still… I had a twinge of being forgotten. Unfulfilled.
Saturday came and went. I called home a few times. Dot said she was doing just fine. The cats were fine. And when the smoke detector let her know it wanted its battery changed, she didn’t have a freak-out. I was very proud of her. And I missed her terribly, and asked if she wanted me home early.
Please say yes! I thought. I need an excuse to leave. This isn’t what I thought it would be. I miss my home. Tell me you need me to come home!
But she didn’t. And so I stayed, somehow deep inside, knowing I was still waiting for something that would happen. Wouldn’t it? Or would it?
And that was my a-ha! moment. That was my Big Whammy. That maybe there didn’t need to be a Big Whammy. That maybe I was at Retreat just because I had asked to go, and God said yes. Maybe I didn’t need a Big Whammy to understand that I’m where I’m supposed to be. Maybe it had nothing to do with the Retreat at all, but just God showing me that He does indeed hear my prayers. And He pays attention to them. And He answers them. One way or another.
In that moment, I felt a peace and joy soothe me. I physically exhaled and dropped the tension from my shoulders. And yet I stood a little taller.
God took me on a mini-vacation. For no other reason than He wanted to spend some quality time with me. How cool is that?!
God answers our prayers. Boldly, significantly, and specifically. He also sometimes refuses to answer our prayers. Most of the time we can figure out His reasons in retrospect, but sometimes we can’t. And I’m okay with that.
Because one thing I keep learning over and over, is that He is God and I am Not. He does love me. And He does love to shower His attentions upon me and my family. And when I screw up, He takes me back. When I try to run away, He corrals me right back up.
Sunday morning, I went to the last session before we packed it up and returned home. I was content with knowing that I wouldn’t get a Big Whammy. No big a-ha! moment. Those realizations themselves were the Big Whammy and a-ha! moment. I expected nothing more than to enjoy time with my women friends and our God.
And that was why He brought me to Women’s Retreat. Because it’s not always about the big things. Sometimes, most of the time, it’s about keeping Him in the little things as well. It’s about trusting that even those quiet, silent moments are worth more than you know.
But after that, something beautiful happened. There I was, standing with all these lovely, wonderful women. My writing partner is singing with her mom up front. My friends are right next to me. And I was content. Content to Just Be. Just be there. Just be me. Just be in the moment. And not look for a deeper meaning or greater significance.
And that’s when God reminded me I’m a writer. And I had to tell this story ~ His story. Now that’s a pretty Big Whammy.
And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!