Hillary Ibarra believes our prayers are often answered through others in our community.
I’ve begun to look to my community for sparks of guidance when I petition God.
Sometimes I don’t even say a prayer, not knowing what is coming, and yet God still uses my family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers to guide me. People talk about unanswered prayers, but what about the prayers never uttered that are answered?
Many years ago, when my youngest was a months-old baby, my husband told me repeatedly to call my beloved grandmama to announce we were coming soon for a visit. Believing there was plenty of time and not being a person who loves the phone, I put it off. My husband persisted, though, so I called, and Grandmama and I laughed together. We reminisced, and I told her about my children, particularly the younger two whom she would meet for the first time, describing how my youngest daughter reminded me of her.
Grandmama would never meet my Gabriella and Daniel, for she had a massive stroke and passed away before the time for our visit arrived. My baby boy accompanied me to Idaho for her funeral. I was and am grateful to God for using my husband to give me that last conversation with my grandmother.
Years later, faced with my husband’s job loss in the middle of the school year and the move for a new, better job to a different state, I agonized. Should we move as a family mid-year? Or should I stay behind with the kids in Arizona where they were born and had grown up in our church’s moms’ group, so they could finish the school year? Leaving daily Mass one morning with my husband after again praying about it, we ran into the grandmother of one of my religious education students. She told us she heard we were moving. I affirmed it and confided that I didn’t know whether I should stay behind for our children’s school year.
She replied pragmatically, “Well, I would.”
It was all I needed. I stayed behind for my children’s sake.
Recently, I have prayed the Rosary while asking for God’s guidance for my eldest son, Berto, who will soon attend college. He got accepted to six colleges. Five are out of state, and even with financial aid, scholarships, and what we could do for him, my husband, son, and I anticipated huge debt accretion. We freaked out, losing sleep and appetites, this being our first head-on confrontation with student debt and the logistics and scary variables of college planning.
And so I prayed.
And prayed the Rosary.
That is when God used my big brother Nate, I believe. I don’t talk with my brother as often as I should, but I called Nate to ask if my son could live with him if he attended college in my brother’s city. He generously agreed. Then Berto spoke with his uncle, having a long, frank conversation about the massive decision he was facing. Nate began researching my son’s major; he dug for information about alumni from various colleges – information that I didn’t know how to curate – and he guided my son in a way that I could not. Berto heard guidance fresh from someone other than his parents, so it had greater impact, too.
God again, in and through another person, answered prayer. God, faithful through our community, illuminated our path.
I realize God has used me for others, too. I recently committed to something that, honestly, I did not want to do. But while praying the Rosary specifically for the intention of supporting and providing better for my family in this season, this volunteer position with my daughter’s sports team sprang to mind. Uh-oh, I thought, for I am familiar with God’s methods of direction for me. I tried to dismiss it. I tried to convince myself that it was not God’s will, because I desired selfish preservation. But I pondered how Jesus did not simply mean money when he told us to give to those who ask of us. Mother Mary’s yes came to mind, and the words of my dear friend Dana followed, “I try to say yes like Mary as much as I can.”
And so I did. With my reservations, with my profound inexperience, with my reluctance because it would not be fun, I gave in and reached out. A friend who has volunteered in this capacity for years told me she had prayed for someone to fill the void, and I thought, “Aha! It was you.”
It is all of us, God answering prayers for us and through us. He’s funny like that. He’s brilliant like that. In His ways above our ways. In His thoughts above our thoughts. In His everlasting mercy. May we never fail to recognize Him at work through others, especially in the most unexpected people, and in us.
When have you recognized God’s answers to your prayers in others’ words and actions?
About the Author
Hillary Ibarra is a happy wife, mother of four, and volunteer. In addition to writing for CatholicMom.com, she is a humor writer and author of The Christmas List, based on the miracle of one childhood Christmas Eve. Jesus, her family, playing guitar, admiring trees, and baking bring her joy. She wants to play the banjo someday, but it might take divine intervention! Learn more at HillaryIbarra.com and on Facebook.