I officiated a wedding Saturday morning in a county a few hours north of the one in which I live. The wedding was for a co-worker and friend, she chose to have it up there where she and her now husband have a cabin. There was no “venue,” they instead chose to have it on a public road in front of a covered bridge. I had never been in this county, so of course this sounded strange and a little dangerous. It was neither, almost no one lives in that county. The snow on the roads was untouched until our vehicles made tracks, and we were uninterrupted.
The last hour of my trip there was on snow covered roads as more snow fell. This is not ideal. I was raised with an unhealthy fear of inclement weather. For years and years and years, I’d obsessively study forecasts and storm patterns and if they were tracking into my area, my life would be upended. I couldn’t sleep, would get headaches (or more accurately, just 1 headache that lasted until the roads were cleared afterwards), miss work or school, and become more and more irritable. I am considerably better now, but I wouldn’t say I like snow.
Winter had become spring several weeks ago, last week was 70 degrees on Wednesday!!! Except for Saturday morning. The forecast was dry, warm (very warm for the season), and sunny, except Saturday morning, when it would be cold and snowing. We all make big jokes about how weather people are always wrong, but that’s simply not true. They are significantly wrong maybe a half a dozen times a year, but I was beyond hopeful that one of those six would be Saturday morning.
I prayed for the snow to miss my path. Yes, I recognize this is probably a very selfish prayer, but I give everything to God (I know He values honesty and wants the authentic me) and let Him sort it all out, “if it’s His will.” This prayer was either left unanswered or met with a No. They both look exactly the same, right? And on this drive and since, my mind began to wander down a path where I was thinking about unanswered prayers and how many times this kind of thing becomes a real obstacle for us in our walks of faith: God doesn’t listen, doesn’t care, and on and on down these same roads.
In that particular county, at the same time, there was a woman who was getting married Saturday morning outside in front of a covered bridge. This woman had been praying to the same God, asking for a snowy wedding ceremony. The last 2 weeks, she continued to update me on the forecast, saying with overflowing excitement, “it’s still supposed to snow!” I pretended to agree and feel the same hope for a fluffy white blanket under our feet.
My No was her Yes.
And now I wonder what that means. The second I arrived, I was thrilled she got her Yes, the day was gorgeous, as was she, the pictures perfect. She deserved the day that existed in her dreams, and if I wasn’t quite so selfish, I would’ve prayed with her and also gotten a resounding Yes.
Very often, our scope of vision begins and ends with our own experience. In tragedy, we say things like, “why me/them/us???” I suppose wishing the tragedy to fall upon someone else. We pray for our team, against others, for our side and against theirs, for sunny skies and against the snow, thinking we know everything there is to know, see everything there is to see.
And they are honest – we absolutely should be praying these prayers, we should give God the truth, as it is, and as we are, right now. But maybe the real answers are the ones that expand our perspective, that blow up our limited view, and expand our hearts to include more and more interests besides our own. Maybe we shouldn’t be quite so quick to conclude what Yes’s, No’s and Wait’s are, or to assume we could tell the difference at all.
I wouldn’t pray the same prayer again. I would be the person I pretended to be, petitioning God for a slow sketchy drive AND a lovely ceremony that would last forever. I’m different today, in many ways. I’m grateful. And as it turns out, for me it wasn’t a No at all. Not even close.