My most favorite thing didn't come until the very end, but here's a little background:
For several months, one of the women in the group has been asking for prayer for her twenty-eight-year-old. We'll call him John. John is far from home, and jobless. Soooo jobless. Not only that, he's growing more depressed. Every time a job surfaces, we feel a little hopeful. Every time John is granted an interview, we all think, "This has to be it." At last, he becomes so depressed his mom travels out to spend the holidays with him. (I would, too.) There's a lot of hand wringing and novena praying going on with this mom, someone I'll call Sue.
Also, Sue and her husband have been supporting their son financially, now that his savings have run out. They can afford it, she tells us, but they're not sure they want to spend the money. John feels a lot of pressure because of it. Every phone conversation is, "What have you heard about a job?" and "No. . .don't come home." (And they talk frequently.)
This week, Sue emailed something potentially miraculous-sounding, that went like this: "A major company contacted John for an immediate interview. When his resume arrived last August, the HR person was on maternity leave, and the resume was misplaced. The resume just turned up, and now they want to interview him, because she's certain he's a fit for the position."
What do we make of this? Don't guess, let me tell you. "This must be IT!!"
But, no. . .the interview was Monday and today is Wednesday, and the son hasn't called. The son hasn't called, and he promised to call. The son hasn't called, and Sue wants to call him. "My husband said 'DO NOT CALL.'" And we tell her, in unision, "DO NOT CALL!"
First, we learned that John is an A-Plus student in one of only two (like this) Graduate Programs for gifted writers in the entire country. (In High School, he was invited to the Iowa Writer's Workshop. This means that John must be an amazing writer.) And John has a mentor who believes in him. The University wants him to publish. The University wants him to make them look good.
Also, John has no debt, no school loans, because he has worked and even saved money ever since he finished High School. After he left his job because he was being asked to make unethical choices, he was able to live on his savings for a while. (By the way, the jobs he has been applying for sound like they would be torture for someone with a highly creative mind.) And, he will be through grad school in eighteen months.
Do you know how fast eighteen months go by?" we asked Sue.
Then Linda said, "You're not spending money if you support John. You're investing it."
Sue immediately caught the distinction. The best part came next, when Angie said, "Now, you'll be able to talk about this differently."
Though we had been hoping with Sue for months, waiting for things to change, nothing happened until she got the whole story out. Call it getting in her business if you like, but she asked. She came in the room this morning looking for support, anxious for a solution. It's amazing to me how much the story changed as Sue gave us more of the details, and our excitement grew over what a remarkable son she has. Suddenly, things shifted over to hope and possibility.
As Steve Angrisano says, we have a lot of near-faith experiences. I wonder if it's because we don't ask for help. (Or, when we ask for help, we don't tell the whole story. It can sound a lot like whining.) Faith experiences happen in our real life, not the life we wish we had or the life we think we're supposed to have.
Maybe, in the big scheme of things, it matters little our actual doing. It's more about how we view it, and how we communicate about it. What we feel about our circumstances has everything to do with how we think about them. And one of the biggest blocks to a creative solution is the thought that "this shouldn't be happening" or "this shouldn't be happening to me."
I'm thinking, too, that real faith experiences are meant to be shared experiences. When the desires of our hearts are fulfilled, and the needs of our lives are met, it often happens in community, because community helps make it happen.
Sue couldn't wait to talk to her husband. They will see their son on Friday. And we can hardly wait to hear the rest of the story!