I didn’t ask for a message or a miracle, but that’s what I got.

I was sitting on the sofa in my family room, doing my prayer exercise. This is a ritual – part prayer, part journal, part asking God for advice – that grew out of a class I once took. Now it’s something I do every morning.

The past few weeks had been extremely busy, with the kind of work that made me feel like I was taking one step forward and two steps back – spreading myself too thin, being pulled in too many directions, and leaving too many tasks and issues neglected and unresolved.

“I don’t know what to say,” my prayer journal began. “I don’t know what to ask for. I don’t know what to pray for that I haven’t before.”

“Despair” is way too strong a word to use to describe how I was feeling, but I certainly wasn’t my normal upbeat, positive self. Instead, I felt myself heading toward a good, cleansing cry.
And that’s when it happened.

As I continued writing, I suddenly realized I was squinting. But it wasn’t from tears, it was because the sun had just peeked into view through the window above a bookcase on the far wall. As I looked up and saw the sunlight now streaming into the room, it dawned on me – no pun intended – that I’d had this exact same experience once before.

It was over 12 years ago, just a few months after my family had moved to Minnesota from Colorado. It was a September morning, and my two kids – 14 and 11 at the time – had just left for the first day at their new schools. I was sitting at my kitchen table, having a cup of coffee and reflecting on our move. And hoping that the kids wouldn’t feel lost and alone on their first day, after transferring from a small Catholic school in Colorado to large public schools here. On that first morning, I was feeling a twinge of guilt and worry. Nothing significant, just mom stuff.

Suddenly I was blinded by the light. The sun had just reached the edge of the window, sending a bright ray of sunlight right into my eyes. At the time, I took it as the sign of a bright new day and as a symbol of promising new adventures – for myself as well as my kids.

All of that came rushing back to me as I was talking and writing to God on that recent morning. And I realized that even if I was feeling severely overwhelmed and overscheduled at the moment, it wasn’t going to last. There was a bright new morning right in front of me, with endless possibilities.

I also realized that God was answering my prayers, my requests, and my questions – even the ones I hadn’t really asked. It made me think of the times I was told, as a child, that God always answers our prayers, but that sometimes the answer is “No.” And of the lessons I learned as an adult, that God answers our prayers but we don’t always realize it because we’re not really listening for the answer. Or because it doesn’t look the way we wanted or expected it to.

Suddenly I felt much better. Positive and upbeat again. I took the shining morning sun as a message from God, telling me that there were indeed bright new days and promising new adventures ahead. The change in me was immediate and miraculous, and I couldn’t wait to get on with my day – which I planned to do as soon as I finished my prayer exercise that morning. It ended, as it always does, with my own message back to God: Thank you.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on March 29, 2012.
© Betty Liedtke, 2012