I was raised in a Christian house. We went to church every Sunday. Whether my sister and I wanted to go or not (and there were lots of Sundays we didn’t want to go).
I grew up in a world of Sunday Schools, Vacation Bible Schools, Bible Stories and such.
I could quote lots of Bible verses and not just “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). That’s the shortest verse in the Bible, for any of you who maybe don’t know the Bible that well.
I knew as a little girl that God wants us to pray. I had heard many times through my young life “…ask, and ye shall receive…” (John 16:24) and “….but in every thing by prayer and supplication in thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6). I had heard tales of people in dire situations who prayed to God for intervention and were rescued, people who had the faith that their prayers would bring about miracles and then the miracles happened. Asking in prayer and receiving was a common occurrence.
I was also a child of the 1970s. The era of either really good or really bad TV, depending on your point of view. I was a big fan of Wonder Woman, starring Lynda Carter. I watched her show every week and dreamed of being a super hero, fighting bad guys and keeping peace. I wanted a pair of gold cuffs like Wonder Woman in order to save people, too.
And with my unshakeable faith, I determined that I would ask God to give me some. I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed for a pair of Wonder Woman’s cuffs.
I remember spending at least one hour before bed time one night praying as hard as I could that God would send me a set of my very own gold cuffs. And I knew that when I woke up the next morning they would be waiting for me. I was asking, so I would be receiving.
The next morning, much like a Christmas morning, I ran downstairs into our den, quickly scanning the sofa, the floor, the chair, the side tables. No gold cuffs.
I ran through the house, searching other rooms. No gold cuffs.
And in retrospect, I have to admit, my faith in God’s willingness to answer prayers died a little that day.
Earlier this week, I told this story to two of my co-workers, really making fun of myself. As in, “Ha, ha, wasn’t I silly and naive, praying for a pair of Wonder Woman gold cuffs? And, of course, I never got them.”
And one of the women said to me, “You have cuffs somewhere. They just don’t look like Wonder Woman cuffs.”
I. Was. Floored.
Could that be it? Did I fall trap to the fallacy that God answers prayers exactly the way one asks Him to? Even my childhood prayer for gold cuffs that would save people? Have I allowed my faith to have this tiny crack in it for all these years because I expected cuffs with red stars when maybe my people-helping cuffs are really my sense of humor or my willingness to lend a hand? I think that I did.
I have many examples in my life, especially in my adult life, that it turned out to be a “blessing in disguise” when the goal or the “thing” that I thought that I most wanted in the whole wide world, I didn’t get. Everyone probably has a similar story. The promotion that they didn’t get, or job that they didn’t take. The person that they didn’t marry, or the house that they didn’t buy. You don’t get what you think you wanted, but instead end up with something better. Some people call those “unanswered prayers” because they prayed so hard for the thing that they didn’t get. “Oh,” they say, “I’m so glad that God didn’t answer my prayers and give me X, because I’m so much happier with Y.”
I don’t call those unanswered prayers. God answered the prayers, just not in the way that was expected. (He’s good like that.)
I’ve had so many answered-in-a-different-way prayers. And this week, I learned that my gold cuffs were answered in a different way, as well. I’m finally comfortable calling myself Wonder Woman.