Jessica Morgan McAtee
Trusting the Coincidences
Over the years, especially the more recent ones, my once Protestant Evangelical faith has had a major overhaul.
It wasn't really something that I wanted, it just happened naturally as time and again the beliefs I was raised with did not work. At all. My life experiences continued to nullify what I absolutely knew to be certain, and like a house of cards, most of them fell with a crash.
It was disorienting and disturbing.
I was left in the rubble and dust wondering what just happened. What did I believe? What was true? What could I trust if not all of those "facts" that I had held so tightly?
Despite all of the misalignment, I came out choosing to believe that this is a benevolent universe. I have my reasons for trusting in a good Creator and that is one thing that remained even after all else was repeatedly shattered.
There have been many coincidences that showed up along my journey. They were like beacons, kisses from heaven, God-moments, that encouraged me to keep seeking truth and following love. They don't happen every day and they typically occur when I least expect, but they are a jolt of joy when they do.
Another one happened this week.
One of the most (even if self-imposed) traumatic experiences I have ever been through was a break-up with a boyfriend. It looks so silly and obvious now, but back then it seemed disastrous.
In my early 20's, I had decided to "live for God" and in that absurd and fanatical time, a young man began "courting" me. Courting is churchy-talk for an alternative to dating, supposedly a more pious and serious route, that typically ends in marriage.
He was a youth pastor and I was a zealot and I was certain we would soon be married.
He told me so. Often. Additionally, several "leaders" in the church and in our faith groups spoke "prophecy" over us and assured us God made us for each other. We lead a youth group together and I thought we were doing God's work.
I was convinced.
My memories of September 11, 2001 are a blur. Almost twenty years later, I remember the actual day well, but I also recall that the pastor had broken up with me, without warning, just showed up on my doorstep and ended it, within days of the attacks. So, while the nation mourned and fumed, I was experiencing my own hellish nightmare that, in my self-centered mind, dwarfed 9/11.
I was beyond depressed and wanted to die. For weeks I moped and lamented and prayed but we never got back together. My world was rocked and my faith deeply wounded. The worst part was that other "christians" lied, back-stabbed and betrayed me. They were unsupportive and unloving in the aftermath.
Of course, there were a few who were kind, but they were the exception.
Yet I kept a flicker of hope that somehow I had missed something and that God was not as cruel as this seemed. I left that church and all but left my faith.
In time, of course, I realized what a terrible fit pastor and I would have been. We were so naive and ill-prepared for life.
I graduated from the university, bought a home, and did very well as a single woman. I learned to raise butterflies. I loved my friends and life and I had plenty of time to grow into me, which was ultimately incompatible with him.
My life became more intentional and focused.
In my 30s I made a detailed list of what I wanted in a dream husband. Some of the qualities included slender, dark hair/dark eyes, financially secure, loyal, honest, from the North West, similar in world-view (politics and faith), independent, introverted, between 5'8" and 6'2", athletic, treats me like gold, laid-back, tidy, doesn't want a dog, has a great career and wants to retire early so we can travel.
There were more wild specifics on the list but you get the point. And yes, some of those things are trivial (hair color??) but in a sweeping embrace of serendipity, I met my perfectly ordered match and we were married on September 21, 2013. Our wedding date commemorated the beginning of the Monarch Migration to overwinter in Mexico. He loves tacos and I love butterflies and Frieda Kahlo, so the Mexi-Monarch theme was a no-brainer.
I am thankful everyday for this wonderful man who has always been real with me and kept his promises.
Plus I made Monarch shoes for the wedding!
Last week I was rummaging thorough old journals trying to find a blank one I could up-cycle into an address book (yes, I prefer paper to digital).
I stumbled across my daily journal from September 11, 2001. The rabbit-hole sucked me in and I thumbed through the entries surrounding that devastating time.
When I saw it, I was overwhelmed...
The entry from September 23 said:
Life is unbearable, only Christ sustains me...I have been absolutely heart broken for the last 2 days over (pastor's) decision to leave me.
Did you see what happened there? Two days before the 23rd is the 21st of September, my future wedding day.
This good Creator has a sense of humor too.
Could we explain this away as a coincidence. Sure.
Might this be a remarkable occurrence and nothing more. Yes.
Does this prove anything. No.
But I have moved far beyond "proof" or "facts" or "certainty".
Today, I rest calm in the beauty of mystery. I trust in an inexplicable and indescribable being that gives light and love to everyone indiscriminately.
We are guided in love even when we don't know it's happening.
In this I live and move and have my being.