This is a faith based post about listening to God when He speaks…..and how sending an email led to an unexpected change in my life. And this should definitely be read with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine during your “quiet time”….whenever that is!
I have noted in previous posts what I miss the most in my life as a divorced woman are simple things… mostly the companionship that occurs when you go out to dinner with someone you care about..…sitting at a table for two…. the joy of sharing a bottle of wine and holding hands and smiling… the very simple act of being connected to someone special. (For those that have such in their lives…. please do not take it for granted. You do not realize how wonderful such a relationship is.) I have expressed those thoughts by stating my hope that one day I might be fortunate enough to have a “Gentleman Caller with Smiling Eyes” in my life.
The truth of the matter is, dear reader, I have been holding out on you….. I have one.
But first, a story about faith and the importance of obeying God when He speaks to you.
A year ago, I was asked to join a group of women for a monthly Bible Study/Prayer Group. I will confess that I almost did not go…I had many “reasons” to skip it but I went and it has turned out to be one of the best things I have done this past year.
At the first meeting, we all stated something that we wanted to group to pray about for us and one of my requests was that I could learn to listen for the voice of God… that I could hear the small still voice when He speaks to me… which meant, I thought at the time, that I would have to learn to be quiet and to listen.
Those that know me well are already thinking “Janet? Be quiet? Listen? Well that would take a miracle from God!” But that was my wish at the time and what I asked them to pray for me.
Yet, a year later…. and only recently….have I realized that the most important aspect in hearing God is not being quiet. If God wants your attention, He will get it and you will have no choice but to hear His message.
The challenge is not to get still and listen… although I am sure that is a good thing to do. Instead, the challenge is to actually do what He tells you to do once you hear from Him … to be willing to make that step and then start down that path……no matter what. And that brings me to the story about the Gentleman Caller with Smiling Eyes.
I had written last February about my experience at the Atlanta Outdoor Club (AOC) social— being told to go “mingle” and how I struggled the entire time I was there. What I did not share in the blog is that when I drove home… I alternated between being teary-eyed and being angry. I was angry and tired of being alone (it had been 4 years since my divorce but I was truly alone several years before that) and I gave God an earful. As I drove home that night, I thought the entire evening had been a disaster.
But the next day, I shared my experiences with my co-workers including remarks made that night by a nice gentleman with a wonderful sense of humor. (I even mentioned in the blog that he gave me an important tip—that I should never bring my wooden hiking stick to an AOC hiking event as it would label me very quickly as an old-timer…. I needed a metal walking pole.)
Apparently I kept repeating “Mr. Metal Pole Person’s” various comments and laughing about them and how we had spent time chatting. My co-workers finally told me, based on all my laughter and stories about the evening, that they thought I had a good time and it was not a disaster after all….. which gave me, as they say, food for thought.
And I got more food for thought when I received shortly thereafter an email from “Mr. Metal Pole Person”. Over the next couple of weeks we exchanged emails and attended some of the same AOC hikes and I found out he was retiring at the end of the month and one email led to another and then we had, what I now call our “Pre-Date”, at Aspens in East Cobb.
And it did not go well.
I will have to quickly say it was not his fault—he was nice and polite and a wonderful conversationalist. The problem was me. You see, it is one thing to think about going out on a date but it is entirely another thing to be sitting there in the restaurant across the table from someone you hardly know.
And this was my first date in over 40 years (yes—please think about that—first date in 40 years) and all of a sudden I started panicking inside. I had spent over half of my life with one man (35+ years) and here I was sitting with another man that I did not know. I tried to maintain my cool and smile and chat but thoughts were just flying all around in my head.
So, when he walked me to my car…. I was so nervous that basically I just said bye and jumped in the car and slammed the door in his face and drove very quickly out of there.
He told me later that he thought I was going to run over his toes with my tires…. he fully expected to see tread marks on his shoes.
And once again I was driving home giving God an earful and I decided that this trying to date is a really stupid idea and what had I been thinking. After all, I had proven over the last several years that I was perfectly capable of going out to dinner and drinking by myself and bla bla bla. The emails between me and Mr. Metal Pole Person stopped and I decided to go on with my life and be a very happy single person.
Until two weeks later…… on a Friday night. I had signed up for two hikes over the weekend with the AOC and was checking out who else was on the hike. I noticed that Mr. Metal Pole Person was attending the Saturday hike but was not going on the Sunday hike. That surprised me as I knew he liked the hike leader who organized the Sunday hike plus this was a St. Patrick’s Day Hike and included a pot-luck dinner and guitar music and so forth. I knew this was right up his alley.
I fully intended, at that point, to go fix my Friday night dinner and pour myself a glass of wine when that small still voice of a spiritual nature told me I should send Mr. Metal Pole Person an email telling him about the hike …. just in case he missed it as they still had some slots open.
I spent the next 2+ hours arguing with God and giving Him all sorts of reasons as to why this was not a good idea. And trust me, I had a very, very long list. But the problem is … it is a bit hypocritical to spend several months asking to hear God’s voice and telling others that you want to hear God’s voice and when He finally decides to speak to you…. Well, to say “Never Mind—just kidding” ……. that does not seem like the right thing to do.
So, after a bit of time and feeling truly foolish, I sent a light-hearted and very brief email telling Mr. Metal Pole Person I saw this hike listed and saw he had not signed up for it and in case he missed it he might want to read about it and bla bla bla.
He told me later he was quite surprised to get an email from me. I guess so as I the last time he had contact with me I almost ran over him with my car.
So, the next day we hiked the Serenbe area south of Atlanta and we would chat from time to time. When you are hiking with 10-20 people for 2 to 3 hours, you spread out a bit and do not stay next to just one person. Sunday came and we hiked with the group and, once again, would chat from time to time.
We were sitting across from each other at dinner at the picnic pavilion and he was kidding me about something and I looked up at him and I was giving a “pretend-glare” at him…..acting as if I was annoyed. And when I looked up at his face…he was laughing at me—obviously very amused—and he looked very happy and was grinning at me and I was totally taken aback.
He had smiling eyes.
After that night, the emails began again and then there were some hikes and very slowly and very cautiously over the next six months, he grew from being Mr. Metal Pole Person to being the Gentleman Caller with Smiling Eyes. Our outings reflect his wide range of interests as well as mine—going to art museums, wine tastings, music events, window shopping, day trips, watching movies, hiking, and watching golf/football on TV. Dinners out have also been the same ..…Maggiano’s— Alpine Bakery—Marlowe’s Tavern— Subway— Waffle House. My favorite dinner was the night, due to a very late lunch, I suggested we have for dinner the pie and ice cream we brought home from lunch and he thought that was great idea.
How can you not like a man who thinks having pie and ice cream for dinner is a great idea.
I noted in the Being Restored post (https://jfhandy.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/2013-03-27-being-restored/) that we have, from time to time, pivotal moments in our lives. I have had more than one and they stand out in my mind. And that Friday night “nagging session” from God and the Sunday night St. Patrick’s Day dinner are such for me.
My prayer request this year was to learn to listen….. I realize now that I have always been trying to listen…. the real test is to be willing to obey when spoken to. Just as I shared in the Happy New Year post (https://jfhandy.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/2013-01-01-faith-and-joy-happy-new-year-2013/), sometimes what one is told to do does not make sense or leads to an unexpected result and as noted in that post, an unhappy ending.
But the ultimate goal is still the same… to obey God and let Him Handle all the consequences…. It may be that obeying Him leads you to make a difficult choice or to change jobs or choose a different course of action…. or, in my case, to send an email.
This much I know…my being willing to follow and to listen and obey… it has made all the difference in my life. And for that, I am extremely grateful.
A Table for Two