Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, I posted on Facebook about unanswered prayers. It was a very PC status in which I did not use any swears or say what I really wanted to say. I'm pretty sure it got a lot of "likes". If I had a friend with that status, I would say I liked it too.
I almost immediately regretted that status. I just don't think it's that simple.
Fifteen Thanksgivings ago, my then-husband walked out on me and the twins I was carrying. This was a pretty traumatic experience at the time. Understandably. I talked to my children (pretty much for the first time ever) about this on Wednesday night and it was a really beautiful conversation about life and second chances and what to do when the world just isn't fair. They've remained pretty unscathed despite all the potential trauma, and while I don't give myself a lot of credit for anything, ever, I do give myself at least partial credit for that. For the love and, maybe even more than that, for the security. My daughter in particular gives me a lot of credit for this, and in fact wrote an essay at the beginning of the school year which simply said, "My biological father left and even though it was hard my mother loved us enough to make sure that everything was okay."
I'm touched with her interpretation of events, of course, but that's not quite accurate. I cried, I sobbed, I was inconsolable. I begged, I pleaded, I walked the narrow halls of my home for hours, praying and weeping and begging. I lay on my face and begged God to just fix this man's heart, fix my family. I prayed every single second I could that he would love me again.
I remember very clearly a sermon I sat through as a young girl in which the enthusiastic youth minister told us that God never said no. That God either said yes or wait. If he said wait, it meant that eventually whatever you wanted to happen anyway. Because God is good and benevolent and because I was probably nine years old and that was my interpretation. I believed everything every preacher said to me then and probably for many years afterward, and if they said God wouldn't ever tell me no, well then it just wouldn't happen.
Fifteen Thanksgivings ago? God said no.
God didn't just say no, actually. I'm pretty sure God said, "Girl, please. You had your turn, you did what you wanted even though in your heart you felt like it was wrong, and now you've run your life so far off into the ditch that it's going take two tow trucks for me to get it back on the road. Bless your heart and hush your face."
(For some reason, God is really Southern in my mind. I'm sticking with that because I like it, okay? Okay)
My prayer was answered. Just because I didn't like the answer at the time, does not mean it wasn't answered.
I think that's important. We can't say, "It's Gods will!" and then get all angry when things don't go the way WE want them to go. We can't have it both ways. We can't beg God for answers and then when he answers us keep praying and hoping he'll change his mind. It doesn't work that way.
Sometimes it's just no.
It's no sometimes so you can get out of a bad situation or not keep putting yourself in harms way. I have no doubt that I would be a 400lb simmering ball of hate and resentment and pain. No degree, no great job, no beautiful house and no hope. I felt helpless and hopeless in that marriage, but because I believed marriage was forever I would have never left him. I would have stayed with him until his death. I would have resented him for not trying, for not making any effort to take care of himself, for not caring about me or the children. I can see how my life could have been as clearly as though it were a movie that I am watching in absolute horror. I remember feeling like this was my fate in life, and this was what I picked. There was nothing else.
I got in my own way a lot back then. I still do sometimes. That's okay. God said no.
I was mad. Furious. I had been so good and tried so hard. I was so young/stupid/angry that I couldn't see past my own feelings and desires. I screamed and yelled and wondered aloud if maybe God didn't love me anymore. It was only because things weren't going the way *I* thought they should go. It never occurred to me to consider anything else. Not then and probably for a long time after that.
I don't remember when I got it. I don't remember when I realized that I could do more, have more, be more. At some point realizing that not all men are dickheads and that, yeah. I'm actually worth someones love and attention. I don't even remember the point that I decided I wanted something more...maybe just always knew that I had this daughter that I wanted to feel differently than me.
It doesn't matter.
What matters is that God said no.
And I'm thankful every day. Not just Thanksgiving Day. Every day.