I thought I was going to be off the hook after I made my prayer of surrender, not so. The direction I was hoping would materialize never showed itself. Maybe I didn’t have a choice, but my back was against the wall and the walls were closing in on me. The career that I thought I wanted was no longer appealing. I was working harder with nothing to show for it, and I was spiritually starving.
As much as I tried, I did not feel at home or settled in Judaism. My conscience was nagging at me for leaving the church because of hypocrisy, finger wagging from the “good” Catholics, and feeling like I could never be good enough. I needed to admit that I had been wrong to expect the Church to be completely perfect while insisting in my heart that I was just doing the best that I could do. I had fallen prey to a double standard. Things in my life needed to change but I didn’t have it in me to do a drastic overhaul. I needed to make another leap of faith but it was harder this time because no longer the hope filled convert, I was the Prodigal Son.
I was swimming in “what ifs” and I didn’t see the lifeguard. When was God going to let me have my way and finally give me what I was really praying for: a breakthrough. Around that time, my family called to tell me that a relative had passed away and I thought it was a good opportunity for a little breather. My two jobs granted me a week off to return to Wyoming to be with the family, so I packed my bags and boarded Amtrak.
The week back home passed relatively uneventfully, but the day before I was scheduled to return to California a strange thing happened…my identification card disappeared. It seemed all very insignificant to me at the time, so I postponed my return for a couple of days to look for it. My bosses were very understanding, but I was anxious to return because my desk would be covered in paperwork. Every piece of furniture in my father’s house was turned upside down and every pocket was turned inside out, but it was nowhere to be found. I couldn’t sleep at all, and I had people relying on me. I kept in touch with both of my jobs to let them know how things were going but it didn’t look good.
I prided myself on being a man of my word, and now I couldn’t possibly deliver. Just a few minutes after that call, my friends called to tell me that my car had been impounded for being parked for more than a week. As I hung up the phone, I took a deep breath and thought, “Touché God, touché….you win.” He forced me to follow through on my prayer of surrender; and after praying for a breakthrough, here I was without an “official identity” to allow me to go back to the life I had been miserable in. I felt nothing but relief. It was as if God was giving me the chance now to find my true identity.
Fortunately, God is good, because in a matter of hours, several things fell into place. I started making phone calls to let people know that I was staying in Wyoming. My former director in college and I discussed the possibility of me returning to finish my degree, and as I expressed my doubt about lining financial aid up, he told me that I could have my scholarship back. One very good friend, who is a surrogate mother of sorts to me, told me that I could have a bedroom at her house. One by one, my concerns were knocked out. Even more miraculously, I was able to fundraise enough money through friends to close my apartment, rescue my car from impound and drive back to Wyoming.
The only thing that I thought as I drove out of California, that I needed to remember this moment as God intervening. His will for my life was still very much a mystery, but it began to pull me deeper into prayer.
[next…exploring religious life from a distance]