It’s Never What We Expect

He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.   Matthew 12:19-20

IMG_6106I had been praying for a while for the grace to reorder my priorities, and get back to the mom I used to be. The old me used to be present and available to my kids, proactively leading them to grow in the ways I deemed important. Somewhere, somehow, that all got derailed.

So many of us realize our derailment only in hindsight. It takes 20/20 vision to see all the little, subtle ways our good intentions go astray. For me, it was a combination of my life and my kids’ lives getting busier, cell phones, and the learning curve of raising teens. I was all over the map with my rules and boundaries as I tried to maintain control, all while trying to give my boys more independence to mature.

I never imagined my prayer would be answered the way it was.

When the virus first hit, none of us knew what to expect. I heard there was one man alive in Europe who had been through the plague of 1918. But other than him, not one of us had lived through anything like this before. As crazy as it sounds, having to quarantine was the best thing that has happened to my family in years.

With nowhere to go, and nothing to do, we found ourselves reconnecting in all the greatest ways. We did creative activities together, had long discussions about morals and values after watching Sunday Mass on the couch, and finally had the time to pray together as a family.

All of that loosened the grip of the negative, outside influences I’d been fighting against for a while. I saw the kids I knew and loved come back to their real selves. Their manners returned. Their patience and appreciation for each other (and me) grew. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of the good that came from that experience.

The point is: When we pray for things, we put expectations on how we think God will answer them. In the process, we miss out on His grace as we pass it by, not recognizing Him when He comes in disguise.

The Israelites did the same thing. They prayed for a savior, a king to redeem them. They envisioned a mighty warrior who would conquer other lands on their behalf, amassing wealth and power, adorning Himself with jewels and fine robes. They never imagined a poor baby, born in a manger would be the answer to their prayers. He just didn’t fit what they had envisioned. So many of them clutched their expectations so tight, they missed encountering God right in their midst.

Quarantine was a wake-up call for me. It was a lived-out experience that taught me that God’s grace CAN be found in the most unlikely of people and situations, if we just peel back what it comes wrapped in.

We should never underestimate Our Creator. If He could redeem the world through His Peaceful Servant, and restore a family through a world pandemic, odds are pretty good He can hide His grace in every person and situation we come upon. It’s up to us to search it out.

Questions for Reflection:

     * When I pray for help, do I envision exactly how God should answer my prayers?

    * If I feel He hasn’t answered my prayers, is it possible my expectations have blinded me to His response?

2 thoughts on “It’s Never What We Expect

  1. I wish, Claire, every parent across this country and beyond could read your honest
    admittance of how you believed all those subtle ways (cell phones, learning curves of raising teens, etc.) somehow derailed, according to you, the mom you used to be.
    I’m convinced our Loving Father saw your “derailed” parental goals differently, with much understanding and tender love. But your sharing, because of the pandemic confinement, His restoration of that earlier unity, when you experienced the “kids you knew and loved back to their real selves,” is uplifting, inspiring and reassuring to me … and I’m convinced that when we trust and are faithful to prayer, God always hears and answers, but in His way, His plan, His timing … and the more we learn about Him, the more accepting we become to recognize His answer in totally surprising, magnificent ways!!!! The family photo you shared says it all!!!


    • Thanks so much, Jackie! It’s taken me a LONG time to embrace the fact that it is all in His way, His plan, His timing. The control freak in me likes to dictate all of that. In hindsight, though, I realize His way is ALWAYS better than mine ever could be.


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