Be careful what you pray for.
That's a little lesson I learned one summer morning when I woke up to see that our yard had become a lake lapping against our back door, puddling into the laundry room, and swallowing our front porch. My husband had left the irrigation gates open just a little, just enough, over a few hours' time, to start flooding our house.
Normally, when things like that happen, I get stressed out and grumpy and take it out on Mr. Brown Eyes, making us both stressed out and grumpy. But somehow, that day, I was able to keep my cool. We sucked up water with the shop-vac, set up fans, and set our wet stuff outside in the sun to dry. Then we had a whole lazy Saturday to spend together while the waters receded from our house. What started out as a disaster turned out to be one of the best days Mr. Brown Eyes and I had spent together in a long time.
I liked the feeling of being able to stay calm and patient in the face of trouble, so I prayed that I could be like that more often.
If you have any doubts as to whether or not God answers prayers, let me ease your mind on the subject.
The next thing I knew, our air conditioner went out. In the middle of an Arizona summer. While the part we needed was shipped, the temperature in our house reached ninety-six degrees. We practically lived in the shower, my parents' house, in front of fans, anywhere we could keep the sweat from pouring down our faces.
Not a week later, our washing machine stopped in the middle of a load. I tried everything to get it started again; I cried, cajoled, kicked, offered my firstborn. Nothing. I finally called Mr. Brown Eyes at work and told him the whole tragic story, adding that there was now a puddle underneath the dryer.
"That's impossible," he said. "There's no part of the dryer that would leak water."
"Well, that's what I see," I snapped, then took a deep breath. Patience, Rachel.
Oh, right. I did pray for that, didn't I?
Of course, when I prayed for patience, I was thinking more along the lines of a simple bestowal of the virtue, like being sprinkled with fairy-dust. I forgot that the Lord usually teaches us patience by giving us patience-creating experiences.
The good thing is that He is also there to help us as those experiences develop patience within us. Despite the initial frustration of things breaking down, both the air conditioner and the washer ended up being simple fixes and the Lord blessed Mr. Brown Eyes with the know-how to take care of them. In addition to being just that much more patient with each other, our trust in the Lord was strengthened as well.
So when other things fall apart, we can calmly put our trust in Him.
One night a few weeks later a summer storm unleashed on us. I smiled to myself as rain pelted our windows, lightning flashing and thunder rumbling. Then I heard another sound. A steady drip coming from the dining room. I got out of bed and peered around the doorway. Sure enough, droplets of rain were forming on the ceiling and creating a small puddle on the wood floor. I sighed.
And rued the day I prayed for patience.
The Brown-Eyed Girl