Prayers Answered in an Elevator
I believe I have a Heavenly Father who is mindful of each of his children.
I believe He hears and answers prayers. Not just the prayers said in church, over the pulpit, or the prayers we say as we kneel down in the privacy of our own homes. Some of the most sincere and humble prayers are the prayers of the heart. When words are not spoken out loud. It's the prayer of the spirit, silently crying out for help when our trials seem to much to bear and we feel helpless. The parent praying for a wayward child. The lonely praying for a friend - longing to feel loved. It is the prayer of abused and those in pain - wanting the hurt to stop. It is the prayer of those who carry heavy burdens - desperate for strength to endure.
After more years than I care to count, I am still having to deal with a mother who finds joy in causing pain to the very people she should love and protect. As a mother myself, I just cant comprehend her actions. Even though it doesn't surprise me. So today when I was confronted with yet another attack you would think it wouldn't phase me. But it did affect me because there was no longer a doubt about it. She has not and will not ever love me. That is not an easy thing to accept. Hard to wrap my head around. But like it or not, it is the truth.
As I took in exactly what she had done this time, I felt my legs go weak and I sunk down onto the floor. Right there in the corner of the empty gym, tears ran down my face and my burdens felt heavier than ever. Overwhelmed - my spirit quietly cried out to my Heavenly Father. I knew there wasn't an ounce of love left in my heart for this woman. I have nothing left to give. There are some boundaries that once crossed, there is no going back. When it comes to prayers, I stopped asking "why" long ago. The "why's" have never been that important especially when it comes to being hurt because there is no answer, no excuse that makes it okay.
It is the word "How" that fills my prayers. "How do I get through this" & "How can I find the strength to not let this trial break me?". What is the right thing to do when retaliation seems completely justified? I asked my Heavenly Father HOW can I find peace? Today my prayer ended with me basically telling Heavenly Father I cant take much more..and that I would really appreciate it if He could let me know he heard me and that it was going to be okay.
I left the gym and headed home. I was walking into the entrance of our condo when I saw a man looking like he was a bit lost. I asked him if he needed help. He had been given the address of a family member but couldn't find the apartment number. He did have a phone number so I let him use my phone. While I dialed the phone number written on the yellow post-it note, he asked me if I was okay. He could tell I had been crying.
Instead of his family member answering the phone, we heard loud noises. The phone number was for a fax machine. With no phone number to help, I offered to bring him upstairs in the complex to see if we could find his family member.
We got in the elevator and this nice man said, "why don't you tell me what is wrong". Once again I felt the tears welling up behind my puffy eyes. I told him it was far to long of a story . He just smiled at me and said he was in no hurry.
I paused and looked at this nice man. There was a spirit about him, in that small elevator, that was undeniable. Yet, I didn't want to burden him. I didn't want this stranger to see me doing the ugly cry. Looking him in the eye, I felt how loving and sincere he was. I looked away and it was then I noticed the book he was holding. It was "Believing Christ".
I said, "I love that book!" and he said..."I wrote that book".
Instantly my heart was overwhelmed with such an amazing spirit, all I could do was cry. He gave me a hug and I cried harder. I tried to apologize for crying but he said, "My wife is a crier....and she is married to a crier. So you just cry and cry." And that's exactly what I did. I was standing in an elevator doing the ugly cry with Stephen E. Robinson.
We talked for quite a while and he said so many things I needed to hear. I don't think there could have been a better person to talk to in that moment. He listened, he was kind and he spoke with a conviction I rarely see. He even made me laugh a few times and he shared his own story about unpleasant and painful family relationships he has had to deal with.
One thing he told me was that as women, it is our nature to want to forgive people, to fix things and love others. He told me that it is normal for me to keep trying to reach out, forgive and love my mother no matter what she has done. No matter what she continues to do. The thing we need to understand is that being Christ-Like and doing the right thing, NEVER means we have to subject ourselves to constant pain and heartbreak. He told me it is understandable to feel uneasy at the thought of letting go of a loved one. But there comes a time when you just have to severe all ties before it kills you. He told me to think of it this way:
If you had an infection like Gangrene in your arm, eventually it would get worse, infecting more and more of the body until it takes your life. What we have to do is cut off the arm to save the person. For a long time, you may miss that arm even though you are far better off without it.
Then he said to me, "I think your problem may be that you haven't fully cut off the arm. You're too afraid of losing a part of yourself. But, what you need to understand is you never had a healthy arm in the first place. What you miss is the idea of a normal healthy arm."
He is so right. I have held on to the thought that somehow I could save the arm - though everyone told me otherwise.
It turns out he wasn't even on the right street. Not even close. Dr. Robinson had been trying to deliver a signed copy of his book to his cousin. I wondered, how does someone end up giving their wrong address and the wrong phone number? I think I know the answer.
Dr. Steven Robinson smiled again as we were saying our goodbyes. He said he thinks he was sent to the wrong address just for me. I totally agree. To think otherwise would be to deny the huge amount of love I felt from my Heavenly Father - right there in that tiny elevator.
The last thing he said to me was "Heavenly Father wanted you to know you are loved. I'm glad I could deliver the message."
I'm glad too.
Today I am so thankful for the people God puts in our paths. Thankful that such painful moments can lead to a stronger testimony and increased faith. I am thankful for a kind, wise man who listened to the promptings of his heart, taking time to show compassion to a stranger. I am so very thankful and will treasure today's experience. I am thankful for answered prayers and I am thankful for the guy somewhere out there who most likely, for the first time ever, didn't know his own address or phone number.
“God uses no magic wand to simply wave bad things into nonexistence. The sins that he remits, he remits by making them his own and suffering them. The pain and heartaches that he relieves, he relieves by suffering them himself. These things can be shared and absorbed, but they cannot be simply wished or waved away. They must be suffered.”
Stephen E. Robinson has taught at Brigham Young University since 1986. He received a B.A. from Brigham Young University in 1971 in English Literature and a PhD from Duke University in 1978 in Biblical Studies. He and his wife, Janet, have six children.