Fifty years ago we stood before “God and these witnesses” and vowed to love, honor, cherish and obey. We entered into marriage as the teacher hoping to find an English position and the recently-returned Vietnam veteran who wanted to complete his college education. Ours was a relationship of more letters, reel-to-reel tapes, and prayers than typical 60s dates of dinners, movies, and walks.
From our honeymoon in Stowe, Vermont, we drove south! With Dave stationed at a Strategic Air Command base in Little Rock, we prayed primarily for the US Air Force to get his pay figured out and restart the checks he had received before we tied the knot! We had less than fifty dollars left (all wedding gift money spent), before Uncle Sam’s much-prayed-for check arrived.
Our other prayer request involved a northern lady (read that as Yankee) landing a teaching job in a very provincial city. In her first interview, the superintendent leaned his stern-looking face across the desk and demanded, “Are you a northern agitator here to register blacks to vote?” Although seething inside about his question, I smiled and said, “No sir. I just want to teach.” In another school’s interview I was dismissed. “Although your grades are excellent and your student teaching record outstanding, I’ll always hire someone from Arkansas before you.”
We prayed because I had wanted to be a teacher ever since I was four, and yes, with the government snafu, we needed my income. But I remember that summer of 1968, as an important lesson about praying or fixing.
Do I seek the Holy Spirit’s taking my groanings before the Lord, or do I, like an irate tenant, demand the landlord fix my problem so I can move on with my plans, my life? Little did I know then that the coming of age moment would surface repeatedly as pain, illness and grief opened their doors on my life. In my most honest moments in prayer, I still pause to consider my motive. Do I come with the prayer of open hands, seeking what God has planned, or do I just come to grouse and expect my problem will be fixed as I envision. That’s worth pondering each time I pray.