Tomorrow morning I planned to pick up one of my dearest friends from the airport. Her name is Dena and she’s a lovely soul. In fact, she’s more two parts sister and one part friend. You know the kind of person I’m talking about. Someone you can say anything to and do absolutely nothing with; a person who has seen you at your lows and toasted with you at the highs. In short, she just gets me and as an added bonus likes me still.
Her visit was supposed to last 6 days. It planned to be her first visit up north to see us as well as her maiden voyage to Seattle. I saw us dancing in rain boots, drinking large doses of hot chocolate, and gallivanting on adventures to discover hidden treasures by the fist full. We both have had our calendars marked for months and tomorrow we planned to temporarily cure the long distance of our relations.
As the days have drawn closer to our impending time and the countdown dipped into the low single digits, I began to feel anxious over our visit. Not in a single way did I not want to spend time with my soul sister, I just grew frustrated that our visit might become less than intended. You see, by now you know I prefer things to be perfect. Anything less leads me to believe that I have failed someone, which coincides with my biggest fear of letting people down. And as I began to imagine Dena’s trip to the Pacific Northwest, I knew it would heavily contrast perfection.
I haven’t been feeling well for quite sometime. I’ve been dog-paddling in pain, suffering from little sleep, and racked with unending nausea. It’s become a chore to get out of the apartment, much less my bed. I have been on the hunt for suitable doctors in our new town and finally, just recently I think we stumbled upon someone we can trust. Long story short, I am prepping for another surgery. Yet another incision, which will lead to another scar, all to clear my body of the disease that ails it. Of course it leaves my spirits weak as reality sets in, over again, reminding me of my fragile frame. Everything is harder when you don’t feel well. Smiles are harder to come by and patience is scarce. And in a city of almost perpetual rain, it’s harder to pull yourself up by the boot straps and venture off into an unforgiving world.
All I could think to do was pray. I asked Nate to pray and dialed my mom to assuage my concerns. And so I prayed. I prayed that God would provide me with strength and smiles. I asked for the ability to enjoy my days with my dearest of friends and for anything else I believed could muster me through. I knew that it would literally take Him to accomplish anything at all. So I bowed my head, and I prayed.
I’m embarrassed to say that when He answered, I was surprised. Maybe even shocked. I figured He’d answer my prayers through the course of our six day visit and I’d find myself on the other side, smiling and spent. But, I was wrong.
Last night, I received a text from Dena. She was asking for prayer. She informed me she was feeling quite ill herself and if she didn’t feel better soon she was afraid she’d have to cancel. I responded saying that I was feeling less than myself as well and that I would pray. And then it hit me…was this His answer? So I offered my thoughts to her. “Do you think this is God’s way of telling us we had better postpone?” And her response, “I’ve had this feeling, all day, that you were in this same place and I actually think that is what we should do.” We both wanted this visit to be wonderful and well consumed because on our budgets they seem to be so futile and far between. But, unsuspected circumstances inevitably would prevent that from happening so we postponed and God answered.
In the bible it says, “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.” Psalm 6:9
And yet when He accepted my plea and answered in such a tangible way, I was shocked. It seemed unexpected. He heard me? God has provided a way? He is bestowing mercy and grace? No way!
But, of course He listened to my plea. He promises to hear our cries and while I thought He’d provide in a different way, His way was better. Instead, this answer fills Dena and I with ease. It’s not one friend bailing on another. Now it’s two friends going with our Plan B and His apparent Plan A.
I know sometimes His answers are not so cut and dry. Often they’re blurry and keep us second-guessing ourselves. Other times the answers themselves seem like simply no response at all. But that’s just the thing, what seems to us as unanswering is actually just what we need. As my Dad has told me time and time again, we must expect the unexpected when it comes to our God. He frequently provides in what appear to be round about ways and while His answers may not be our first choice, they are exquisitely beautiful because they remind us of His promise to hear our prayers and accept them.
Dena, you know I’d sit on a couch with you- anywhere, any day. But, God’s Plan A is for us to meet together another time and perhaps another place. I’m hoping it also includes healing for both of us in ways of physicality and emotional grace. I love you, my sister, so far away- but know that He has heard our prayers and has bestowed us with peace amidst our failed perfect plans.
And God? Dear God… Help me to, among my prayers, have confidence that when I call, you will answer. Open my eyes to see your answers in canceled plans, unsuspected pains, and promises revealed in time. Thank you for your patience when it takes me more than a second to see it’s not my backup plans but your perfect provisions.