(Excerpt from: The Assignment: Guide to Greater Happiness)
How I Met My Own Personal “Yoda”
One day, years ago, I locked horns with my then-teenage daughter in an agonizing, emotion-charged rift. I remember the day vividly, and always shall. This was one of those great turning points in my life.
I had to go to work, and left the house in tears, wondering where I’d gone wrong?
I felt like the worst mother in the world.
While driving across the desert near where I lived, I sobbed. I remember looking out on the snow-capped peaks of the Tehachapi Mountains, and I prayed.
I asked God to heal the rift with my daughter. I asked for calm. I asked for wisdom, too.
But I felt nothing back from my prayers.
It was like God was silent.
So I prayed the Lord’s prayer out loud, line by line, waiting for the calm God always sends me.
But still, I felt awful.
No help. No answer.
I asked, “Jesus, why aren’t you answering me?”
And then I remembered: Sometimes we can’t tackle things by ourselves. Sometimes we need to pray with someone else.
“But who else can I pray with, Lord?”
And then it came to me. On the way to my work — I’ve passed it countless times — that Korean camp, the sign reads in English and Korean squiggles: Los Angeles Prayer Mountain — tucked away in the pines.
“OK, God. I’ll stop in and pray with someone there, even if it’s just the gardener,” I resolved.
From that moment I felt God’s calm. I was still crying and upset, but the depth of my pain had lifted.
(In this way, I knew that it was His desire for me to go to the camp. Because when I resolved to go, the pain let up.)
I drove several more miles, and turned onto the dirt road to the camp, asking God to show me where to go.
I parked, and there was the caretaker/gardener standing nearby. I asked if anybody was home.
“They’re in the house,” he replied.
The rest of the memory is frozen in time:
I walk to the doorway, under the eaves, onto the porch, and there I am greeted by a familiar sight: On the stoop, a tidy row of slippers and shoes line-up against the wall, like in Hawaii.
I knock on the wooden door. It swings open and the tiny figure of a woman appears. Dark hair, soft face, perhaps in her late sixties. To this day, I still think of her as Yoda.
“Come in!” she says with a warm smile, and gestures me inside.
Her name is Michelle, a Korean American. The pastor and his wife are out buying groceries, she says. She is here by herself.
Yoda perceives my arrival at her doorstep as Divine. She seems almost to be expecting me.
I sob to her about my pain, about the trouble with my daughter, that I need prayer. She listens, she smiles, and she tells me to thank God for my troubles.
She recites from scripture in lilting voice and with hand gestures, adding her own embellishment:
“You must thank God for all things, the good and the bad! Because all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” (from Romans 8:28)
What strange advice?
Thank God for my troubles?
For the teenage mother/daughter rift?
Can it be that easy?
For maybe half an hour, we talk and pray. She offers me water. I drink. I’m calm now, the tears are dry.
My Yoda tells me that she’s been here praying for her sons, for their Salvation. She’s on the last day of a five-day prayer retreat. Her own personal retreat, it seems.
And she smiles, as if she knows why God sent me.
As if my arrival was orchestrated by the Divine Answerer of Prayer, Himself.
In leaving, she tells me of a book by Merlin Carothers, Prison to Praise. She asks for my address. (A few weeks later I get a sweet note and a copy of the book in the mail.)
This is the book she was given, years ago, directing her to thank God for all things — this is the book from which she received the wisdom she gives to me today.
We hug goodbye.
I walk back to my car. Amazed at all that happened.
What were the chances of meeting her? Of receiving her sage advice?
As I drove away, I felt quiet. Peaceful. Uplifted.
I did what she said. I began thanking God.
For my daughter, for my work, for all that He has given me.
Later that night, I called home and heard my daughter’s laughter. The angst had passed from her, too.
But the very next day there was a hearing at the courthouse regarding the ranch where I kept my horses and gave riding lessons. No problem, I’d been told, no need for me to show up.
Just a routine hearing regarding a neighbor’s complaint about dust, and a Conditional Use Permit.
But it seems that things didn’t go so well.
The judge declared there would be no riding lessons at that ranch.
In the swift fall of his gavel, my primary income source was dashed.
When I first heard the news, just two days after meeting my Yoda sage, I was tempted to fume, to curse.
My mind raced: It’s not fair!
How could they?
The neighbor complained? The new one who moved here from the city! Trying to make the country into a city, again!
But after meeting Yoda, how could I even go there? Into the emotions of anger and despair?
Not now. Not after God answered my prayers and sent me to meet her.
So instead of cursing, I looked up and thanked God for . . . losing the lessons. Losing the income.
I thanked Him for the still-viable hoofcare arm of my business, and for the new doors and income that He would be opening for me.
Did I feel it? NO!
Was I really sure it would all work out? Not at all!
But you see, this isn’t about feelings. This is about exercising the wisdom, the GIFT, I received.
God opened a door for me (yes, literally!) — who was I to refuse it!
So I thanked Him.
Over and over and over.
And I made my body chill, not upset. I breathed and radiated love from out of my heart, and every time I felt fearful I repeated my thanks to Him for the good He would make of all this!
Turns out, with the riding lessons gone, I had time, precious time, previously not available.
I always wanted to return to Hawaii, after living there in the 80s. But how would that be possible?
Through thanking instead of cursing, doors opened.
I got a call from a woman horse trainer who asked if I’d learn a new Natural Barefoot style hoof trim and use that to maintain her horse’s hooves. Why not?
The free time allowed me to attend some clinics, and to sort through the new techniques.
Turns out this new trim contained elements that changed my own horses for the better, as well as the other horses in my horseshoeing and hoofcare clientele.
Exactly one year later, I returned to Hawaii and started a hoofcare practice there. And I worked there for the next fourteen years, commuting between California and Hawaii, working with horses in both places.
A blessing and a miracle in itself!
And now I know: Sometimes, we need to pray with someone else!
Sometimes the things that upset us are positioned to move us from one perspective to another, as long as we listen and obey.
I’m forever grateful for my Yoda. And I know beyond a doubt that God loves me, and answers my prayers!
(Excerpt from: The Assignment: Guide to Greater Happiness)
Like what you’ve read here? Visit Dawn’s sister blog: Soul Horse Ride
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