I would never call myself a "religious" person, and some might even question how "good" a Christian I actually am... I don't attend church regularly, I've never read the Bible from beginning to end, and I married a Jewish guy. What I hope no one ever questions is that I'm a good person, that I do good things, and that I strive every day to leave the world a nicer place than I found it, whether through my words, my actions, my time, my money, or most importantly, my children. There's another post brewing in my head about "doing good things," but this one is about God.
It frightens me a little bit to blog about God, actually. It's not because I think he'd disapprove, but because I know there are people out there who can do Him a lot more justice, who can probably get it "more right" than I can. So this post is about my relationship with God, my thoughts about God, my opinions and perspectives and random thoughts only.
How many times have I prayed when something is wrong? When I need help? When I need answers? Strength? Healing? Acceptance? How many times have I prayed when something is right? When I don't need anything, except to say "thank you for my blessings?" The former certainly outweighs the latter, but it's something I'm working on every day... saying Thank You to Him for my blessings, and to remember that I truly do have a blessed life.
In late 1998, an oncologist said "cancer" and "complete hysterectomy" to me in the same breath. I was 23 years old, engaged, and the rest of that conversation is a blur. God sent me a ladybug, and I fought back. I refused to accept that course of action, and today I have two perfect little girls that remind me daily that I made the right choice. Why did God put cancer in my path? Why did he give me that ladybug to remind me not to give up? Would I have loved my children just as much, been as grateful for them, been as amazed by them every day if I'd never been told I couldn't have them in the first place? Maybe. Or maybe, I would have taken them for granted, would have let my career come first, been just another corporate bee who happened to have kids, instead of a mommy who happens to have another job, too. At the time, I asked God why. Today, I thank him for the lesson and the blessing.
When my grandfather passed away unexpectedly in late August 2001, I again questioned God. Grandpa was only in his early 70's. He was a good person. He volunteered his time. He had so few "things" but would give you anything he owned if you needed it. If he didn't have it, he'd borrow it from someone else and loan it to you. I didn't get to say goodbye. Why did this happen? Again, God gave me ladybugs.
On my flight home from his funeral, I took a puddle-jumper plane from central New York into New York City for my connecting flight to Florida. I'd flown in and out of NYC over at least 200 times, I'd seen the city from the air at all times of day, from all directions. This time, though, the plane flew east to the Bronx, and then turned south down the west side of Manhattan. For the first time ever, I got to see Yankee Stadium from the air. (If you've ever been to the stadium -- Yankees fan or not -- you'll know why this is so special.) The people next to me were asleep so I didn't feel guilty about hogging the entire window, my nose almost pressed to the glass. We flew past Central Park, the sun shining through the trees. The light bounced off the top of the Empire State Building before we passed Times Square. I looked in awe at the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, towers I'd been in more times than I could count from working in the building next door for 6 months and taking the WTC subway every day. We flew south past the Statue of Liberty and looped back around before heading into LaGuardia. I'd seen most of this view so many times, but that day, it was as if I was seeing it for the very first time. That memory is cemented in my brain. I wondered at the time if my grandpa had ever seen that view, but realized his view was now much better than my own.
Two weeks later, terrorists brought down those towers. Suddenly, I understood why God called my grandpa when He did, and why the pilot took that route on my flight home. As a part of the Salvation Army's Disaster Relief Team, my grandfather would have been the first one to volunteer to go to Ground Zero. They would have told him he was too old, his health was not stable enough. God knew Grandpa would be a great asset, and decided to use him in His own way to help in the aftermath. There's no doubt in my mind that Grandpa was standing right inside the gates of Heaven when those people arrived, ready to do whatever he could. And that pilot's flight path was also a gift, a "one last look" before the world changed. There are no more questions about "why," only prayers of thanks for the blessings.
My husband and I were in the process of having our first home built during my first pregnancy. The house was running behind schedule and we moved in only 6 weeks before my due date. I was anxious to get the nursery done, get all the boxes unpacked, blinds hung and fans installed before the baby arrived. Only two things were left: buy a small TV for the guest room (my parents were planning to visit for a while after the baby was born) and make one last set of curtains (also for the guest room).
It was a Saturday afternoon, the curtains were cut, pinned and ready to sew. My in-laws called with an offer to take us to dinner, then to BrandsMart to pick up the TV. We had a great dinner and were waiting to have the TV loaded into their car when, much to my surprise, my water broke. Well, actually, started to leak. It was too soon! She wasn't due for 3 more weeks and there were things unfinished on my list! I didn't tell anyone until after we'd gotten home and my in-law's left. My husband told me to call the doctor. I wasn't in labor, so I ignored him and instead just to bed.
On Sunday morning (and still not in labor!) I called my mom, who convinced me to call the doctor, who convinced me to go to the hospital to get checked. I cried the whole way. It was too soon! What if she's not fully developed? Who's going to make those curtains? This is not my plan! I asked "why" the whole way there.
After she was born (she was perfectly healthy), I learned that another woman who I knew casually from an online "due date club" during my pregnancy also had her little girl on the very same day. Her daughter didn't want to come out, and mine was 3 weeks early. Why did things not go "right" for either one of us? We started talking more and more frequently about our stories and our little "birthday twins." It's been over 4 years now, and she and I still talk every day. There's not a thing in the world she doesn't know about me, and we're only half joking when we say the other one has half of our own brain. We finish sentences, we know what the other is thinking, and we just "get it." She lives more than half way across the country, and who knows when we'll even get to meet in person. But still, she's my "sister" and one of my very best friends. I used to ask "why" my daughter arrived early, now I thank God for the blessing her early arrival brought to me.
I could go on and on (as if I haven't already!), but I'm at a point in my life where things just seem to look more like blessings than problems. There's a silver lining everywhere, a big ole' pot of gold, if I'm just willing to look. Some days that's a lot more difficult than others, and sometimes it takes days, weeks or months to find it, even if it's been in front of my face all along. So today, and everyday, I will do my best to remember to thank God for my blessings, to say Thank You for all that's right in my life, to remember that when it comes to blessing me, He already has... beyond measure.