In a fit of existential angst earlier this year, I woke up and decided to ask God for a sign of what’s next and what’s up with God and me anyway. It happened to be the morning of April Fool’s Day.
I dragged my husband, Brent, into the scheme, and suggested we pray together, thinking that would make my plan more powerful. After all, aren’t Christian couples supposed to pray together? We’ve been married for 19 years, and I can count on one hand the times we’ve actually prayed together out loud.
I could list a bunch of reasons why we don’t. For example, we have such powerful personal prayer lives that praying together just seems redundant. But mostly I think it’s because praying out loud in front of my husband makes me so self-conscious I’d almost rather he hear me yodel.
But that morning, we prayed together. And I boldly asked God for a sign.
Then I got up, went downstairs and discovered that our new puppy, Dewey the Doodle, had busted out of his crate and been up to all sorts of scatological mischief in our kitchen.
Our three children, Erik, 13, Holly, 10, and Thomas, 8, bolted out of bed and launched into April Fool’s Day madness.
Our bed, which I had just made, was stripped bare of all linens, which were then heaped into a corner of our bedroom; a trunk where I store extra linens was dumped out all over the landing. Brent’s underwear was secured into a Rubbermaid container filled with water, and the toothbrushes were buried in a mountain of shaving cream. I found my bra in the freezer.
In revenge, I packed rubber snakes into the kids’ lunchboxes. Reportedly they were met by a stifled yawn at lunch (and a loud yelp by me when I went to unpack the boxes that night).
Later that day, I shared all this stuff (and I’m not even sure I’m remembering all of it) with a friend who said, “Wow. Your kids must feel really safe to do things like that.”
Although it felt like a stretch, I took it as a compliment.
As for a sign from God, nothing really obvious came along that day except for my friend’s comment that my kids must feel very good to be so very bad. Was God trying to tell me something? I’m really not sure because although I would appreciate an e-mail or a text message, God tends not to communicate with me in such direct ways. I almost always hear God’s voice through what someone else says to me, and I feel most confident of God’s presence in hindsight. I can see God in my rearview mirror more clearly than I can all around me.
What did happen was that my head was yanked out of my bellybutton. I thought, as my bra was thawing, that although it’s crucial for parents to take the time to reflect and seek God’s direction on the big questions, life’s big moments are still happening right in front of us. I think that God’s answer to me on that particular day may have been something like “Look at what I have given you. Taste the joy that is in front of you. Laugh with me.”
And maybe find somewhere else to store the sheets.
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