Half the year is over, and I find myself walking into new doors that I would not have thought would be open to me 15 years ago. A year shy of turning golden and I feel that my life has just begun. It isn’t perfect, but what life is, anyway? It’s still a wonderful place to be, and one that I am truly grateful for.
It wasn’t always this way, and for a very long time, although joy and sadness existed in my life like railroad tracks—always together, never apart—the joy I now have in my heart and in my life is something I’m still trying to get used to.
To get to this point in the road, I had to learn to let go, to surrender the outcome and to just let God take over. It was an exercise in learning to sit still on the boat, amid stormy seas, to hang in suspended animation while my life was kept on hold. To listen to my gut and to my heart, find the courage to call it what it is, and make difficult decisions after much prayer and discernment.
In making decisions, first I would enmesh myself in a four-step process that always began with listening very intently to my heart and my gut.
As most women are, I consider myself highly intuitive. I’ve found that in the instances I don’t pay attention to what my gut is telling me, I get in trouble.
I’d like to believe that the voice within goes beyond intuition, that it’s an inner compass of sorts, and God points the needle in the right direction. When something I’m about to decide on it doesn’t make my heart sing, or when I feel heaviness, I’ve learned to hold off, zip my lip and sit it out.
Second, I always keep a plan B, and consult a “council” of prayer partners and friends whom I trust, whose points of view I respect and honor. I thresh out the options with them, and more often than not, one or two will point out something I failed to see, or will help me craft a plan B, in the event that plan A doesn’t happen. Then together, we all pray for His Divine Will to take place.
Third, I let go of anger or bitterness and everything else that drains me.
If I have to take myself out of a situation momentarily so I can step back and get an unbiased view of where I’m coming from, I give myself that creative or meditative space to think.
I go to a quiet place where I can really hear myself and hold a close conversation with God. In that space, I find that I am able to (and only by His grace, because if that were me alone, it would never happen) wish only good to all those who have hurt me or wished ill upon me. In those times when I’ve felt most helpless, I surrender the situation, knowing that God will deal with it in His own perfect time.
Lastly, I pray in specifics. There is so much grace and wonder when what we have prayed for specifically is given to us, down to the letter.
I read somewhere that when you pray specifically, it helps you “see” very clearly when God answers your prayer. The Bible has countless examples of specific prayers that were granted in accordance to His will. In my own life, I’ve tried to practice this in all the big and little requests I have made—from finding a parking slot in a very crowded mall, to requesting Him to gently take back a loved one to heaven if that was His will.
And each time that He has answered, I see His hand move in such amazing ways, and am bowled over by His faithfulness, love and grace.
I love what American author and minister E.M. Bounds writes about prayer: “Prayer and the promises are interdependent. The promise inspires and energizes prayer, but prayer locates the promise, and gives it realization and location. The promise is like the blessed rain falling in full showers, but prayer, like the pipes which transmit, preserve and direct the rain, localizes and precipitates these promises, until they become local and personal, and bless, refresh and fertilize. Prayer takes hold of the promise and conducts it to its marvelous ends, removes the obstacles, and makes a highway for the promise to its glorious fulfillment. While God’s promises are exceedingly great and precious, they are specific, clear and personal.”
If you find yourself anxious about something, keep still, think it through, listen to your heart, and pray it away.
Find strength in what the Psalmist says: “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.” No matter how long or deep the night may seem, His saving grace and joy always make their way, not a minute or second too late, and before you know it, morning has come.
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