When I was five or six years old, I lost one of my favorite toys in the sandbox. It was a small plastic figure that matched the one my younger sister had. She and I decided to search for it, so we went to work, digging dozens of holes in the sandbox. At that time, we believed whole-heartedly in God. After our search efforts came up empty, we figured that the only thing left to do was pray. So we dug a very special hole and placed some pretty stones and flowers around it. Then we knelt down next to it, closed our eyes and offered an earnest prayer. We requested that my toy would be returned to me so that she and I could play with our toys together. After a few moments, we opened our eyes and there it was! It had magically appeared inside the special little hole in the sandbox.
Upon further inspection I realized that the toy was not mine, it was my sister’s. She had placed her own toy there for me to have. I told her that I knew it wasn’t mine, and returned it to her. Finally, we forgot about the toy, but I didn’t forget about the prayer.
For many years, I wondered why God didn’t answer us that day. I wondered about why he answered some prayers and neglected to respond to others. Over time, the memory faded, but it left me with a strong belief that God only answered when he felt like it, and I figured that it wasn’t worth asking unless the request seemed worthy of being answered. Eventually, I stopped asking at all.
Over the years my ideas about God have shifted, and part of that shift is my restoration of faith in the power of prayer. I no longer use the word prayer; I prefer to think of it as energy or focus, but regardless of how it is labeled, I do believe that our requests are answered; they just aren’t always answered in the way we understand or expect them to be.
As I reflect on that special moment with my sister, kneeling in the sandbox under the trees, I realize that my prayer was answered that day. I didn’t receive the toy I was expecting, but what I received was so much more. I received the realization that my sister cared for me and she was willing to let go of the thing she loved in order to make me happy. I have never forgotten that selfless act of love, and I realize that while I may have lost a little faith in God on that day, what I gained was a strong connection with my sister; a connection that I still hold dear to this day.
Every time I’m faced with the difficulty of understanding the events of our lives, I remind myself that our circumstances have been designed specifically for the evolution of our consciousness. And while it may not seem that our prayers or intentions are being answered, if we remain open and receptive, we’ll realize that everything happens exactly the way it will serve us best. It’s taken me many years to realize the blessing of that moment so long ago, but now I see that God was there, answering my prayer through my little sister, and all these years later, my faith has returned with the memory.