I can't type those words 'unanswered prayers' without immediately hearing the country tune "...some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers." How true those words ring as I reflect upon my short time spent on this earth. In high school despite being a relatively "normal" girl, I never had a boyfriend (until the last 3 months of senior year but that's for another post). All my friends were dating and many in "serious" relationships. I felt lonely, hopeless, unattractive- defective. How I prayed that God would just send me a boyfriend-someone to love me and care about me. Despite my pleading, Prince Charming never showed during those 4 long years of high school.
I chose a University based on little more than intuition and a "good feeling." I was determined to surrender my obsessive focus on finding a man and focus on what our culture likes to call finding yourself. During this time of "not caring about boys" I met my husband. He pursued me. He respected me. He loved me. He. agreed. to. wait. for. marriage. You see, at this point I was not practicing my faith and yet I passionately clung to the Catholic Church's teaching that sex was for marriage. Looking back, I am so profoundly grateful that God didn't send me my much-longed-for-boyfriend back in high school. I know I would have succumb to the pressure to "just do it" at that point in my life, if it was in the context of what my teenage mind viewed as a "serious relationship." Instead, God held out for a gift far greater than what I had in mind. He gave me a husband not a boyfriend. He gave me not just someone to love me but someone that would love me unconditionally.
More recently, I faced the challenge of finding employment in my field. I work in a very liberal profession yet I have many orthodox convictions. I was always somewhat of a fish out of water in my college and grad-school courses, but I "just knew" I wanted to pursue this profession. After graduation it seemed there were no jobs in sight. The jobs whose qualifications I did meet usually reported hiring someone that far exceeded their minimum qualifications. There were just too many qualified professionals looking for work. But just like in high school it seemed -in my mind- that I was the only one who wasn't getting hired (from my grad school cohort). I decided to take a job outside of my field while I waited for the right career opportunity to present itself. I went on several traumatizing interviews. I would get so nervous before an interview I wouldn't sleep for days. I'd obsessively research the organization and even more obsessively re-read entire chapters of text books pertaining to the potential job. I even tried using anti-anxiety meds to calm down the day of an interview. None of this got me. any. where. During this time in my life, I went through a gradual return to my faith. I prayed novenas that I would get this job or that job. Until one day the.perfect.job. seemed to fall out of the sky and into my lap. The organization didn't even know their ad for an opening was still being run. They had already finished interviewing. They. still. wanted. to. meet. me. I opted to ditch the anti-anxiety meds and instead prayed to the Holy Spirit for peace and guidance. And then by an act of divine providence, I got the job! This was a job that would allow me to use my degree from my liberal field and still fulfill a mission that is at the core of my traditional values. This was in every sense of the word- my dream job- although I never knew a job this perfect existed! And I never would have gotten it if I was otherwise occupied in one of the many other jobs I had so fervently prayed to get.
And now as I stare the 18th month of infertility in the face, I am tempted to think again, "but I'm the only one." Yes, it seems that babies are everywhere and that everyone (including long-term pill users) are showing up pregnant. I am tempted to think how much better my life would be if I just had my way. I am tempted to justify to God the desires of my heart. But I know now- more than ever- that some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. I know His plan for my life is beautiful and will bring forth many fruits if I cooperate with Him. I think about Our Blessed Mother. What if she had told God no? Nevermind the threat of death she faced by becoming pregnant out of wedlock, what if she had said, "but God... I am supposed to marry this great guy- Joseph- and we hope to have many children together and...I really will be a good mother I want to have lots of kids not just one." We know that Mary was born without original sin. Her love of God and her desire to do His will was perfect. We- carrying the stain of original sin- struggle to imitate Our Mother who so perfectly embraced the Father's plan. As I struggle, it comforts me to know that God desires to bring about the conversion of many souls through my life- as he desires for the lives of all His children. It comforts me to know that God has an important and divine plan for my life. It shakes me to the core to realize that Our Mother said, "yes" and so allowed the world to receive our King. How am I saying "no" to God by telling him directly or indirectly that my plans are better. I know now, thanks to unanswered prayers, that His plans are better than my dreams. Jesus I trust in you.