R. Jenee Walker : In impossible cicumstances, 'remember the turkeys'
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The holiday season is upon us. As a psychiatrist and a daughter who has lost both of her parents, I know this can be a difficult time. The late Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, an inspired pastor and author, wisely admonished in every situation to "Expect a Miracle." Despite the enormity of any problem we face, we are to cherish a sense of expectancy that God will perform a miracle for our greater good according to His will. This means that we are not to hope for, but to expect a miracle.
These words will forever ring true for me as I look back at a Thanksgiving when I saw a miracle unfold. My family is vegetarian. Each year, my beautiful mother, before her health began to fail, would express mail from California several vegetarian turkey rolls for our holiday meal. We could not purchase them locally. For years this process of mailing and retrieving the frozen turkey rolls occurred without a hitch. Yet on this particular day, I was trying to support someone in crisis, and I was not paying attention to the clock.
I hurriedly rushed to the post office panicking that not only would I miss the post office, but it would be closed for the next three days for the holiday season. The chances of those turkey rolls not spoiling for five days without refrigeration were dismal. While the turkey rolls were mailed frozen, they were wrapped only in Reynolds Wrap.
Thus began my vigil to save the turkeys. I missed the turkey delivery because I was trying to help someone in need. Wouldn't God honor my faithfulness? I had so much faith. I parked out in front of the post office expecting a miracle. This is despite the fact that the lights were out, and the door was dead bolted with a huge heavy metal bar. There were no cars in the parking lot. Call it foolish, ridiculous, irrational, and presumptive. Even though I am a psychiatrist, most people I am sure would call it crazy. Yet for me, that weekend I chose to call it faith. I didn't want to disappoint my mother, nestled in her wheelchair, who was calling every few hours to see if the turkeys had arrived.
I parked out in front of the post office for the next three days for at least thirty minutes at a time. I fully expected the express truck to pull up, and my angel to step out handing me my turkeys. Needless to say, it didn't happen. Refusing to be discouraged, I shifted my expectation looking for a special delivery truck to come to my home despite the fact that I had the notice slip in hand that a delivery had already been attempted. I began to watch feverishly for the trucks pulling onto my street. I saw Fords, Chevrolets and Dodges, no express mail truck.
By this time, I was getting discouraged and my faith was faltering with each excuse I made to my mother's multiple inquiries. I began to berate myself for taking too much time to comfort someone else and not being more mindful of my own needs. As a result, I put myself under excessive stress. Even worse, my frail mother, trying so hard to do something kind for my family, would be disappointed.
The night before the post office was to reopen, four days after the initial failed delivery of my turkeys, I went to the hospital to see a patient. Once again, I encouraged my young patient to expect a miracle, to actively believe, hope for the best, and know that what she believed would be returned to her. Funny, it is human nature to have total belief that everything will work out for the best when you believe for someone else in the midst of their crisis. Yet when it comes to claiming, completely trusting that everything will truly work out for our own greater good in the midst of our own crisis, it is often harder to hold on to our faith. That night after the powerful reminder from my patient to expect a miracle, I was driving home, recognizing that I was actually expecting the worse as the muscles in my neck were so tight that they were knotted as I was dodging my mother's phone calls. The thought then hit me like a sledgehammer. Here I was trying to frantically to get the post office to retrieve the turkeys before they thawed and spoiled. The thought then jolted me; the turkeys could still be frozen! Unlikely yes, yet I felt as though God was gently hitting my hands for limiting His power with my limited faith.
Early the next morning, my nephew went to the post office to pick up the turkeys five days after they had been sitting on shelves. I quietly prayed for a miracle as I awaited his phone call. He excitedly called moments later exclaiming that the turkeys were still frozen! Not only were they frozen, but they were so cold. He had to put on gloves to get them out of the box because his fingers were freezing. I could not believe it! Miracle or coincidence?
For those who choose to live a life yielded to God, there are no coincidences. I was humbled as I was reminded that God's ways are not our ways. God's timing is often not our timing. Yet to every problem He has a solution even though it may not be the path we would have chosen.
It has been five years since my beautiful mother passed away, and I would give anything to be able to rush to the post office to retrieve those frozen turkeys or to simply pick up the phone and hear her voice. Yet the gift of that experience left me remembering the power of belief, trust, and expectation. When situations arise that are overwhelming and seemingly impossible, I "remember the turkeys" as a lasting testimony to the results of faith, hope and trust in God.
We have a wonderful God who loves us and knows us each by name. As this holiday season approaches, I continue to look for and expect a miracle every day. In big ways and in small ways, I am reminded of the importance of always embracing hope and moving toward joy. Sweet memories of holidays past coupled with the absence of our loved ones make the holidays at times difficult. The key to having a joy filled holiday? Cherish the sweet memories, always expect a miracle, trust God's process and be a blessing to others. For by intentionally being a blessing to others, we receive the greater blessing. Expect a miracle today and experience joy, peace, and yes miracles during this upcoming holiday season. Dr. Walker works at the CAMC Women and Children's Hospital Family Resource Center and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.