Author Kim Patton
One night last year, I was loading dishes and wiping down the kitchen table after dinner when my house suddenly felt stuffy and suffocating.
It had been a long day.
We were in the middle of preparing to move across town and they changed the date on us again, forcing us to wait two more weeks. The frustration had mounted as Kevin and I talked about logistics and my brain swelled with anxiety pushing at the walls of my head. The lights inside my house glowed bright and obnoxious and I wanted to tear away. My heart itched and clawed to escape so I slipped out the door for a twilight walk through our neighborhood.
It took a few minutes of walking before I dared to pray. I thought about how over the years I’ve prayed a thousand different prayers.
In college, it was, “God, why do I hurt so badly from a failed relationship? Will someone else love me for who I am?”
In my full-time cubicle job while Kevin was in seminary, it was, “Lord, I can’t handle these crazy clients. Get me out of this job or give me the strength to fight through it. Or at least loan me 75 cents so I can buy a can of Dr. Pepper to calm my nerves.”
When we started to try for a baby it was, “I pray for your will not mine. But if I get pregnant now, I could have the baby before the hot summer. Or it might be better if we pay off the car debt first.” I couldn’t help but plan.
On that night, eight years into my marriage, two weeks away from moving into our sixth home together, I didn’t ask God for anything. I didn’t beg him for a baby though I still didn’t have one. I didn’t beg him to fix my marriage because I finally learned how to be grateful for my husband.
I just wanted to know He was there.
The streets were speckly gray, the neighborhood quiet as the parents had ushered the kids inside an hour earlier. The streetlights barely flickered on, bugs circled around for their first taste of the bright lights. A line of pink stretched from one cloud to another pulling up at the edges like cotton candy. Darkness flooded from the top of the sky, closing on the horizon inch by inch.
My tennis shoes kissed the gravel and when I found a marble-sized rock, I kicked it, sending it skipping like a stone on a placid pond.
My anger always melts rapidly into tears. After a few stone-kicks, I surrendered to the night.
Hey. I imagined Him saying.
Yeah, I’m here.
“K.” My voice quivered, a kid on a balance beam unsure of the next step.
“Things are hard.”
Yeah, I know.
“I’m lost. I need you.”
“You’re here?” I looked to the sunset.
He was there. He’s always there. A few more steps and I decided it is enough to know He is there. Nothing was fixed. My heart was still heavy as a brick, but I knew I was not alone.
When I reached a cul-de-sac and followed the turn to walk back home, I looked up and the moon had risen while I was walking, my back to it. It was round and lush, the tiniest of gray dimples on its cheeks.
An overwhelming sense of peace rushed full at me like a hug and I walked the streets alone to my almost-sold-house with an inkling that my Father in heaven heard my prayer.