I started writing this essay in my mind last night as I dealt with a potential biological roller coaster from something I ate. Somehow, a train of consequences was running express through me and I was of the opinion I’d rather not have things go down – or up – the way they seemed quite destined to do.
In the dark bathroom suddenly made light, I contemplated my fate and, having no human nearby to provide status updates to, I started a conversation with God. Call it what you will, be it prayer, delusional ranting, bargain-making with fate. I talked to God, because that’s what I do. I see God as my Heavenly Father, a loving, merciful relative who exists outside the whole of time and space, so that He can help us along our way towards getting into the family business, working on the immortality and eternal life of humanity. He is involved in every life, as existing outside of time meaning there is no shortage of the stuff for handling any and all requests that come His way.
Granted, I started this conversation fully aware that other people were supplicating Him at the same time. Some begging for relief in much worse circumstances, some asking for evil things they would never be granted, some prattling on about minutiae, and still others pleading in prayer not for themselves, but for loved ones. But since there is no limit on the time God has, each one of His beloved children are heard and answered.
Those answers are often minor, granular adjustments that either take the edge off of something harsh or that help us endure what is about to get much worse. I’ve been through much worse in my life. This most recent prayer was decidedly a small ask, relative to the proper ordeals that I’ve agonizingly had to face. But I’ve faced them and gained experience, wisdom, and a greater desire to be compassionate from them. God knew they were for my good, that they were formative experiences that gave me valuable puzzle pieces to assemble in my lifetime to create a more complete picture of my existence.
My body is in pretty good shape on its own and I knew it could do much to heal itself. So what do I need divine intervention for in this case? Maybe God didn’t do anything tonight to keep my body in a comforting stasis. But maybe something else was done in my past that made getting though this night cleanly and quietly a possibility.
Mind, now, I was ready for bad times. I had made my peace with the fact that being sick can be most unpleasant, but that it’s also a conversation with my body about my own choices and the choices of others intertwined with mine. I was ready to be thankful for the running water to wash with, the clean clothes to change into, and the help from my wife in cleaning up the aftermath. Being sick helps me to see the web of support around me and I am compelled to be thankful for the people who answered my prayers sometimes years before I ask a question that their response is part of.
As I prayed, I felt the wave of nausea, the “This is it!” moment we all wish didn’t have to happen… and then, it didn’t happen. Something about the experience was in knowing that it was most certainly about to be rough and messy and then knowing that, no, that mess was being canceled by a Heavenly Father who wanted me to learn a different lesson. That moment was not about enduring, but about sacred covenants and greater promises yet to be fulfilled.
My mind has recently been dwelling on the child I lost over 20 years ago, my son Jarom. I believe that all of my family can be resurrected and restored in happiness. These are huge blessings that I am deeply grateful for. Yet, there are times when I miss, I feel loss, and I wonder. This moment in which I asked for a small thing and having that small thing happened reminded me once again that the greater things can happen, and will happen. There is no need to fear. Heavenly Father is with us all, every step of the way, and we are capable of discovering that companionship for ourselves.
I still woke up too early, I still don’t feel up for going to work, and I expect some Powerade in my future. But I still know the blessing that came to me in that stormy moment made quiet, that it was more than a momentary comfort. It was a matter of eternal importance, made manifest by a minor, granular tweak. It was a tender mercy that spoke to me, to give me comfort not only in the moment of need that I knew of, but also comfort in the moments I wasn’t considering my needs.
Even now, those things I mentioned as negatives are things I can find value in. Waking up too early gave me time and presence of mind to write this. I work from home, so I can still get some things done for work and get rest later today. Powerade exists and I can get it and it will help me recover. If someone gets it for me, I will be grateful for that, as well. I write this mostly for myself, but if it should help someone else, then I have spent these early hours of the day doing something that a loving and merciful Heavenly Father knows will answer the prayer of another of His beloved children.