The angel of God asks Hagar a silly question in my mind, as she sits weeping over her predicament in the desert with her son in Genesis 21: What troubles you? The angel knows full well what bothers her. I like to think that God does hear our cries of desperation and responds somehow, maybe not always by providing the pool of water we have somehow missed, but God will give us what we need. That has mostly been my experience.
Today has been interesting as I am trying to purge my past so I have been going through boxes of papers that I have carted around for years. I am a sentimental person who has hung onto her yearbooks, school high poetry publications, notes from coursework, handwritten letters from friends around the world, and photographs. I know you are thinking I am a hoarder but I really cherish these items. I have breathed a sigh of relief at throwing away a number of empty boxes and dumped out several recycling bins full of papers. There will be more to come.
As I sorted through these papers, I felt a warmness envelope me. My growing up years were tough on some levels but I always had people who had me. Interestingly enough, we shared similar values too. Often when I reminisce with school friends we realize what we did not know about family secrets–the alcoholic father, the mentally ill mother, the suicidal sister, the drug-addicted brother. I suspect most of us had some shameful secret packed up tightly in our closet. After spending part of the day dong this, I received a phone call previously booked regarding a project that I am involved with around a study on aging.
The woman on the other end of the line was lovely. The interviewer takes you through a bunch of statistical questions and then there are certain topics that they focus on that change for each year they call you. I had not done a phone interview since my diagnosis. I was well aware that this could be interesting but I was not prepared for the questions that came.
This year they were checking childhood abuse scenarios. The questions were troubling. Had any of these things happened to you prior to the age of 16? I managed to answer the questions honestly but there was one that made me stop and think for a moment. When I clarified the interviewer reacted loudly. She was shocked but agreed that there was no place on this survey for my answer because I had not had any physical contact. When I was in elementary school I was almost abducted by a bold stranger. Only my strong intuition and street savvy saved me–and the fact that I spotted a friend of mine coming down the street. He had reached out to grab me but when he saw my friend, he took off. Police were called but I do not remember anything beyond that. I ended up burying the incident for a decade until my friend’s brother tried to grab my arm and pull me into his car. In a flash, I remembered it. The poor guy who was only joking around saw that I was deeply troubled by his action but I could not explain to him why.
When I have thought of that early childhood incident, I marvel. Was an angel of God pulling me far enough away from that man’s reach? Did God see that I was in trouble and panicking about how to get out of this dangerous situation? I did spot the pool of water in the form of my friend and I am ever grateful for this odd gift of intuition that I have had from a very early age.
What troubles you? Can you lift your eyes to the One who can release you from your agony? The interviewer found out my health situation, of course, and I told her that my answers might seem weird as we entered the satisfaction with life questions. Yes, I was happy with life. I had very few regrets and a fantastic support network. How many people do you know by name? I paused before responding with 500. It seems like an odd question but she said the highest number you could give was 100. Really? Anyway, the responses I gave made me realize once again how blessed I really am and that I am not troubled about dying. I have loved my life and even with those Hagar moments, I have thrived. I have embraced it all, knowing that an angel of God is working hard at keeping me safe and caring for my needs. The reading says at the end that God was with the boy and he had a good life. That is all I need to know when I am troubled.
When trouble visits do you look to see if it is accompanied by an angel of God?
Are there any incidents from your childhood that still need healing?
Angel of God, remove what troubles me or at least give me the strength to deal with it. Thank you for always protecting me from evil. May I move with grace through this world in gratitude and joy. Amen.