My childhood in the fifties was classic, happy, carefree and fairly uneventful if you don’t count the usual broken bones and windows. We lived in a friendly, middle class neighborhood, with nice parents and children in every house for blocks. After divorcing my father, Mom not only worked a full time job, she returned to school to become a teacher. We were left on our own most of the time, but it was a peaceful, safe world where children could play baseball until dark under the streetlights.

One day, Mom must have decided we lacked religious exposure and packed us off to church, against our wishes. We struggled against our matching stiff, scratchy, red and white Swiss dot dresses, and piled woefully but obediently into the family car. I spent the entire hour in Sunday School staring out the window to the beckoning summer day with its green grass and blue skies. Suddenly, I saw our car, and Mom in the driver’s seat, not attending church herself! I didn’t realize until years later that she was doing homework for the coveted degree that would secure her family’s future. At the time, I could only feel anger and the hypocrisy, even though I didn’t know the word or even truly understand the concept. The idea that there was an old guy in the clouds with a white throne, beard, gown not to mention a book with my name in it was absurd to my young mind. That was the end of any church activity for me!

In the sixties, I became involved in the studies of  Scientology, EST, Nietzsche and Zen, trying to resolve my lack of responsibility and self-assurance. I actively avoided what I termed “Bible Thumpers” and inwardly scorned those who felt their fate was in the hands of someone else and not their own. Yet I understood some kind of power had to be control of our universe, but I chose to regard and label it as karma. Later in that decade I discovered there was a title for my beliefs - agnostic.

I finally stumbled into adulthood and completely shocked my friends by not only marrying, but producing two children.  I watched helplessly as the world around me changed for the worse. We moved our family from a large city to a smaller, agricultural town, and marveled at three cars at the same stop light.

Still, I had little motivation, no real purpose and went through the motions of life. My children brought me more joy than I ever imagined possible, but the wear and tear of every day brought inner growth to another stand still. “I need more!” erupted again.

Mother had suffered through a bad relationship, and had come to find peace in God. I would tolerate her ramblings and gentle pushiness with an attitude of “That’s nice, Mother.” I often hung up from a conversation, shaking my head in disbelief. How could she not realize what a cop-out it was to give a problem to the Lord instead of handling it yourself? I’d shake off the disgust and go on with what I was doing.

As we settled into our new town, jobs were difficult to find and finances became difficult. I would express my dismay and fears to Mom, who suggested I put my faith in the Lord. I would, again, end the phone call rolling my eyes.

We reached another critical stage when all four tires on our car gave out at the same time. With no job in sight, we had no realistic way of replacing them. Our limited cash would buy a weeks worth of food but what would we do after that?   Mom called, and again, I cried on her shoulders. Gently, she suggested I give the problem to the Lord, and she gently explained how. I expressed my lack of belief and faith, to which she told me the story about the mustard seed. Tears filled my eyes and I promised I would try.

That evening, I found a quiet time to try to pray. Awkwardly, I spoke out loud to the air, and to that old guy in the clouds on a white throne with the long beard, flowing white gown and book with my name in it. I explained I felt quite silly, but needed to believe He was really there. I told Him I had no idea what I was doing here, but I would talk as I had no concept of real prayer. With all my heart I assured Him that I understood that I was giving Him my tire problem to solve, as I had tried with no avail.  I added that I would truly accept what ever He deemed, regardless of the outcome, my wishes or not. I humbly asked for his assistance, closed the prayer, and went out to put together a peanut butter sandwich dinner.

The next day, my husband came home from job searching in his usual bitter mood. He gruffly told me that he needed seventy five dollars, exactly what we had left in our checking account. Taken back, I responded in a loud voice and nasty attitude. Certainly, he knew we didn’t have that kind of money, what in the world was he thinking of? Why in the world did he need it anyway? My husband took a long moment's breath and quietly told me a friend has four brand new tires for sale for seventy five dollars, and they would fit our car perfectly.  He was also offered a job on the condition he had reliable transportation!

I lifted my head and tears overflowed. That moment, my understanding, gratefulness and relief will live with me forever.

A side note many years later: Mother proceeded to send many pieces of old antique jewelry, all with mustard seeds.  She had offered to send one, but this was so many! I tucked them away in the box with the family jewelry, certain for some reason one day I would know what to do with them.  My favorite piece was already around my neck.  Very recently I met a woman online that I was simply meant to meet.  The ties are unclear but incredibly strong and sure.  After knowing her quite a while the subject of faith came up out of the blue and she mentioned she had looked for a mustard seed to no avail for years.  Wa-la!  He always has something up His sleeve, always.

Written by Sharry Anne Stevens 1997, all right reserved

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