They say, “be careful what you ask for.” Especially when asking God. He’ll give it to you, and not always in the way you expect, or want.
I was sitting around, having one of those imaginary conversations in my head like I like to do, this one in English, explaining to some imaginary person about why I went into the Peace Corps. It got me thinking about times God’s answered my prayers, and it made me think of one particular instance that always makes me laugh.
In the summer of 2007 (a year conspicuously missing from this blog), I did a 6-week study abroad summer program with Vandy in Venice, Italy. Classes during the day, excursion trips here and there. Very fun. There was a large group of us, I’d guess around 20 something, in the program. We all booked our own flights and found our own housing arrangements. I shared a flat with a delightful couple and another friend. It was wonderful. Photo above: our group at a winery tour.
In this group was one particular classmate that had driven a lot of us nuts throughout our first year of classes. And now, here he was again, in our very small and always together summer program class. Ugh.
As the weeks of class went on, I found myself being rather mean. Probably not to his face - though I honestly can’t claim that for sure – but, definitely snide in conversations with my friends where we’d talk about how obnoxious he was and how much he annoyed us.
I didn’t like this me. I don’t like being mean, and I don’t want to be a mean person. So at night, when I’d get ready for bed, I’d tack on to my prayers a request for patience and for me to be nicer to him.
I don’t know what I expected. To gradually just start having more patience? To magically become nicer without any work on my part? For him to become less obnoxious or annoy me less so I’d be nicer? It doesn’t work like that. No, not at all.
As the program wound down, we were all excited to head back and start our first summer legal internships. I was also relieved to be getting away from the group, and particularly that guy.
We were pretty much all leaving on different days, depending on people’s schedules for their internships, extra tourism plans and whatnot. As I mentioned above, we all booked our own flights. On my departure day, I headed to the airport to fly home. I boarded my flight, this giant jumbo jet to go across the ocean, and who’s sitting in the seat next to mine? That guy from my class.
Me and that guy from my class for the next 7 or so hours, with only each other for company, in a sealed metal tube hurling above the ocean. “God, this is not what I meant!”
It turned out to be a great flight. He’s not truly obnoxious, just highly energetic and genuine in a way that’s so unusual it can come off as fake if you’re too full of your own thoughts to pay attention. We had a wonderful time and by the time that plane landed, I considered him a friend.
It makes me laugh because I never would have prayed “God, please let me be trapped next to this guy for 7 or 8 hours so I can learn to like him.” But that’s exactly how I found myself being nice to him, and I then didn’t need the patience I’d asked for either.