Saturday, May 9, 2009

Unanswered Prayers

"Warning! This post is really long. You might need to take breaks if you attempt to read it."

I read a really interesting article in Today's Christian Women magazine. The author was writing about how we as Christians tend to feel, react, respond when God does not answer prayer. There are times in our life when he just doesn't answer or fulfill the things we pray for. She said that most people tend to get hurt and disappointed when something specific we prayed for does not end with the outcome we wanted. We tend to "draw a line" between ourselves and God. We pray less or not at all and when we do pray we don't ask for what we really want or what is really on our heart. We start to ask God for more general things that we think we can't be disappointed about when he doesn't answer.

It made me start thinking about times in my life that I've gotten mad or disappointed with God and it made me sad when there were more times than I could count on both hands. I mean times when I seriously was mad, angry, and wanted to scream at God. Usually they were really serious instances like when both of my grandmothers passed away within 2 weeks of each other. These times...when I should have drawn closer to God for comfort...was usually when I was pushing him away. I don't know why this is my tendency. I can't explain it at all. Finally after all my thinking and beating myself up for acting the way I do I started to realize that God doesn't always answer prayer but most of the times he does answer it...just not the way we want or in a way that we even realize that he has answered it.

Many people don't know that when I started college, I was an Elementary Education major. I spent 2 semesters in the major and excelled but after I did an internship at a daycare while Kevin was in Iraq I became very worried about my career decision. There were so many kids in the daycare that did not have a great homelife and it showed. I was already stressed out, emotional, and crazy since the war had just started in Iraq and I just couldn't get those kids out of my head. I decided that if I ever wanted to have children of my own and be the best mom that I could be I might need have a different job. I had been working for my father's small business for years so I changed my major to Business and loved the rest of my college career. I never could get education out of my life though. I always ended up tutoring, teaching, or helping others learn. At graduation I really had no idea what I wanted to do except I knew I didn't want to do retail sales or accounting. I applied for all kinds of jobs...HR, administration, government jobs....I really had no idea.

I worked in the business industry for about a year before I become completely miserable! I started school to complete my teaching certificate early in the spring of 2007. I was not scheduled to be finished with my certificate until after public schools started that fall so I didn't think I would be able to get a job until the next school year so I continued working at my current job.

My current job was not anywhere near a good working environment. I was the youngest worker in the office by almost 10 years. I struggled while I listened to women gossip about other workers, talk badly about their husbands, utilize company time for anything but working, plot to get rid of women they didn't like so they could get their friend/cousin/aunt a job, and then get angry when I didn't join in. I also dealt with a situation when a new supervisor came into the office and was very jealous and insecure. I would spend all day sitting in my desk working away with my earbuds in my ears so I didn't have to listen to what they were saying.

I prayed constantly...more fervently than I ever have in my life. I needed to be able to stay at that job until I could finish my certificate and that was becoming increasingly difficult. Part of me wanted to be able to witness to these women, to show them that it didn't have to be that way, to help them. The other part of me wanted to just run away as quickly as possible. Just as everything was getting to its worst point at work...I received an email from my teaching certification program notifying me that if I was able to obtain a full time teaching position they would go ahead and recommend me for a probationary teaching certificate and allow me to finish my classes while teaching! And then after I recieved the email and began applying for jobs I almost immediately was offered a full time position in the area I wanted!!! Looking back this was such an answer to my prayers but I didn't see it. I was so entrenched at being angry with God. Why would he let me have to endure this environment as long as he had? Why did he allow people to hurt me the way they did every single day? I couldn't even see the blessing.

I began teaching and LOVED it! Every day was a new and exciting adventure and I couldn't wait to start on each new topic. Now don't misunderstand me...teenagers will be teenagers...attitudes and all. But it was so different. So fleeting and then their mood would change and things were ok again. I was working with people who enjoyed their job and wanted to be there! They treated each other with kindness and were always willing to help each other out. I had the world's greatest boss who trusted my judgement and supported my decisions. My mentor teacher was very patient and became a great friend. And yet I still didn't see what God had done for me. I was still so bitter and so angry that I had ever been in that situation.

At the end of the school year I was asked to come back again. They had liked me...I mean really liked me! I had done a good job and they appreciated it! I immediately signed my contract and finished up the school year. As summer came I began to see just how much money I was actually spending commuting to my job (just under 2 hours each day; about $450 a month) and how much time I had not been at home with Kevin. I usually left at 6:45-7 every morning and arrived home around 6-7 each night. I usually spent all day on Sundays grading papers and completing lesson plans. Kevin had been responsible for everything! Cleaning, cooking, shopping, paying bills, taking care of the dogs, all while working full time also! I was torn. I finally had a job and coworkers I loved but my life at home was really suffering. It broke my heart.

I debated and cried for a month and a half. I did not want to leave my job but could Kevin and I really afford another year of expenses and living the way we were? It was taking a toll on our bank account and our relationship. When I say our relationship I mean we literally had almost no time together. Kevin was fantastic...never complaining, always supportive, would let me do anything I wanted but it wasn't really fair to him to take care of everything. I prayed and prayed and finally felt like God was leading me to find a balance between work and home. As much as I hated to leave...God had shown me a career I loved and now I needed to find something a little closer to home in that area...which I did.

As most of you know I've been teaching part time at a private school about 10 minutes away from my house and it has been such a blessing. It has taken almost 2 years but I'm finally seeing the way God has worked with my life. Slowly but surely I'm erasing the lines that I drawn in my heart and opening back up to God. He deserves so much more than I give him and I'm growing every day. I know it will not be an overnight process but getting started back on the right path is better than reinforcing the walls I had built. I know to fully repair my relationship with God I will have to forgive the troubled women I worked with before. But I haven't been able to do that yet. I still feel dislike burning deep down in my heart when I see one of them or something reminds of them. I think I've finally reached a point where I can start to begin to forgive... A quote from the Fireproof bible study explains it best: "I will forgive them not because they deserve it...but because God has forgiven me." Then God can begin work on repairing my heart...

Immediately after I finished the article about unanswered prayers another article listed a piece of scripture that I read over and over and over again. It made me cry because the timing was so perfect and I felt like God was speaking to me specifically. I'd like to share it with you now.

Psalm 18 (This translation is from The Message)
"But me he caught-reached all the way
from the sky to sea; he pulled me out
Of that ocean of hate, the enemy chaos,
the void in which I was drowing.
They hit me when I was down,
but GOD stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved-surprised to be loved!"


KAJ said...