The Lord often sends us exactly what we need. And often times, it’s when we find ourselves loathe to accept it. Life has its ups and downs, but as Orthodox Christians, we are called upon to put our trust in God and be thankful for everything. No matter the circumstances. The following story provided me with proof of it.
It was a normal Tuesday morning in late May. My husband and I left the house at the same time to head into work. We called each other during our drives to continue that morning’s conversation, which happened to revolve around money. My husband expressed his concerns about our finances. Student loans, mortgage payments, utilities-the basics. Nothing we could not handle, but things that weighed on him, nonetheless.
I tried to encourage him to have more faith and worry less, which could be construed as hypocritical, seeing as I am normally the worrier in our relationship. He said he would try. Before hanging up, he stated that he had used the last of the bread to make his lunch, but that he would stop by the store and pick up some more on his break. I thanked him for this, told him I loved him, and wished him a good day. He did likewise, and we went through the workday as we normally would.
Nothing at work had been out of the ordinary that day. Nothing good, nor anything bad. I clocked out at my usual time, and headed for home.
As I got on the expressway, I noticed I was having a hard time accelerating. As I moved into the left lane to avoid a slow driver, I noticed that I was not only not able to accelerate, but that I was actively losing speed. Panicked by this realization, along with a blinking check engine light, I pulled over. On the left hand side of the expressway. In the middle of rush hour traffic.
Anxiety welled up inside me, watching cars whiz past without even trying to get over and offer me any safety. Trying to ignore them, I looked up what could possibly go wrong. A quick search suggested that my catalytic converter had gone bad and to turn off my car. Scared stiff and not wanting to get out of my car to check anything with vehicles speeding past me, I did so. It was the bare minimum. I texted my husband to tell him what had happened. I knew it would be a little while before he responded to me, so I was left to my own devices.
Fortunately, we had just met with our friend, and insurance agent, who had made our auto policy effective the day before. In addition to having an insurance agent friend, I also had her personal cell phone number. Having no automated system to deal with, I rang her up.
She picked up right away and I explained the situation. Sympathizing with me and keeping me calm, she helped me locate towing companies and auto shops that might be able to fix my car. Even after we hung up, she continued to text me to check up on me and make sure I was safe. (Thank you Anastasia!)
My husband, who had left work at four, responded to my text with a phone call. He made sure I was safe and asked me what seemed to be wrong. I told him it was likely the catalytic converter (at least according to the internet). He paused, and apparently had not listened to my advice, because he then asked,
“How much will that cost us?”
Being more concerned with the possibility that another car would hit me, and not our finances, I had not looked it up. He asked me to check, and like the enabler I am, I did.
“Between $2,000 and $3,000.”
He was quiet for a moment.
“That’s a lot.”
“I know it is, but we don’t even know if that’s correct. We should wait and see before we worry about it.”
“You’re right,” he resigned himself to the fact that I was not going to talk about money at that point. “Where are you?”
I told him where the tow truck would be taking me. By the time the truck had arrived and I had been towed, he had caught up to me. I got the receipt from the truck driver and immediately sent it to my friend for reimbursement.
“One less thing to worry about,” I joked, trying to lighten the mood. He was not amused.
Seeing as I would be out of a car for a few days, I had to head back to work to grab my laptop. During the drive, my husband was silent, which is rare. He is the more social of the two of us, and seeing him so worried that he did not even want to speak had me concerned. And a little annoyed.
On top of all that, I was hungry, which fed into the annoyance. Being stranded in the heat for so long, and it being well past dinnertime, I asked my husband if we could stop somewhere to pick up a snack. He said no, but that I could partake of the bread he had snagged from the store.
While not enthusiastic about eating plain bread on a hot day, it was better than nothing. I popped open the bag and grabbed out a slice. I took one bite and felt defeated. The day really seemed like it was going to end on a financially worrisome, car-broken-down, bland-bread note. Until I remembered something.
The week before, we had gone out to dinner for my sister’s graduation. It was one of those nice restaurants with complementary bread. Although they served it with butter packets. Though I love butter (more than I care to admit), I normally do not take the unused butter packets home. I have no need. I keep my fridge and freezer stocked. However, this day, on a whim, I stuck them in my purse.
“There’s butter in my purse!” I exclaimed.
Giddy, and very pleased with my past self, I began to dig through my purse like a mad woman. Triumphant, I produced the packets. A little soft, but still good. My husband was unable to stifle his laughter. Finally, I thought to myself, a smile.
“This is proof, babe. Everything is going to be okay. The Lord will provide.”
Finally realizing that I was right, he responded in kind,
“The Lord will provide.”
And He did. He did more than provide me with a pat of butter, but took care of everything, much to our surprise.
Before this event had happened, work had left me feeling emotionally overwhelmed. A variety of changes had taken place and many of my co-workers were unhappy. Which is understandable-I sympathize with them. Nevertheless, they affected my mood and my desire to do my best at my job. I had been praying that the Lord would strengthen me against the apathy I was beginning to feel and allow me to continue to meet expectations. I guess He thought I needed a break instead.
I worked from home for three days and had some reprieve from the chaos of the office. I went back the next week feeling renewed and more motivated to do well in my work. It was a very necessary break.
The car’s break, unfortunately, was not as rejuvenating. It turned out that the issue was not the catalytic converter, but the entire engine. An engine that had been recalled. The repairs were free. Along with these free repairs was also a free rental vehicle, so I would not have to work from home for three weeks waiting for the new engine to be installed. Moreover, not only was the engine was delivered earlier than expected, but the dealership was able to get the repairs done in less than two weeks.
The only thing to be paid was a small fee for getting the car towed, from the initial shop where it had been diagnosed, to the dealership. That’s it.
Nothing that put us into financial ruin. Nothing that changed our plans for the future. It was simply a mild inconvenience. An inconvenience that served in humbling us.
Looking back on it, we agreed that this was a valuable reminder. A reminder to struggle against our worries and fears. A reminder to put our lives in the hands of the Lord. It reiterated that we do not say “Thy will be done” just to lengthen our prayers. Though the financial worries of that Tuesday morning were amplified by the situation we faced later in the day, we never had anything to fear.
So, if you are sitting in your worries, struggling with fears for the future, or just plain anxious, remember to say “Thy will be done”. It’s a hard practice to get into, but reframing your concerns and placing them on the Lord is so incredibly important in building a stronger spiritual relationship with God.
And when things get too tough, just check your purse. You might find some butter.