Monday, January 22, 2024

"Unanswered" prayers

It was October, and I wanted to watch Overthe Garden Wall. There was just a problem: every single library copy was checked out or reserved for other people.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, Over the Garden Wall is a miniseries that follows a set of brothers who are lost in a dark wood. This animated show originally aired on Cartoon Network and may not seem too profound at first glance. It's dark and very, very weird. However, the story, characters, and themes are incredibly deep and ripe for discussion and reflection. The show is also perfect for fall time and Halloween, which is why I wanted to watch it—and why every copy was unavailable. (I know online renting is an option, but I didn’t want to pay money just to watch a two-hour show)

Then, at the very end of October, on the cusp of our departure for a road trip, I received word from the library: my copy had arrived. So, for the final two evenings of October, my husband and I tucked our sugared-up kids in bed and I introduced him to this weird, delightful, profound show. As we discussed the different episodes and characters, I was filled with gratitude. God cares about my desire to watch Over the Garden Wall, I thought. Furthermore, because this DVD came in just before a huge road trip, we took it with us and introduced relatives to the beauty of Over the Garden Wall. My husband and I got to watch this show twice in a week, and another time over Christmas (since it's a "Halloween show," I could keep renewing the DVD as long as I one else wanted it anymore haha!). It was amazing. 

Soon after this, the temperatures began to dip—and I thought about cardigans. As much as I love cozying up in a hooded sweatshirt on chilly days, there’s something particularly awesome about wrapping myself in an oversized cardigan while I read, write, or take my kids to the park. All of the cardigans I had owned in the past had worn out or gotten donated in a move. The thought briefly slipped through my mind one day: It would be nice to have a cozy knitted cardigan again.

However, I wasn’t motivated to take all of my kids shopping for clothes, and I wasn’t motivated to head out in the dark, chilly evening to look for an elusive “perfect” cardigan, either. So, I didn’t follow up on this thought. Then, one Saturday morning, an acquaintance walked up in the church parking lot and gave us a huge bag of assorted hand-me-down clothes and toys. A large burgundy cardigan met my eyes. God cares about the little things.

I started wearing this cardigan almost every day. It was the perfect color, it was comfortable, and it was exactly what I had wanted. I started to think about how it would probably wear out quickly, since it was my only cardigan and I loved wearing it, but that was fine—I would wear it until it wore out.

Several weeks went by. My kids and I were leaving a friend’s home after spending the afternoon visiting and keeping an eye on her baby. As my kids were starting to walk out the door, my friend said, Oh, hey—do you want this sweater? She grabbed an oversized cardigan that was sitting on the couch (where I had been admiring it) and handed it to me.

God cares about the little things.  

This morning we woke up to see that the toddler's hat was 
left outside and is now encrusted in ice. I had two different appointments
scheduled today and asked God to please hold off the freezing rain
so I wouldn't have to reschedule, but...the world is covered in ice. 
God is good, and it will all work out for the best. 

I have a short list of specific prayer intentions that I’ve been bringing to God for a long time now. These intentions cover issues that are fairly important to me, and they haven’t been answered in the way that I’ve hoped for. Yet, a couple of seemingly-small desires were granted—in abundance.

This brings to my mind the tremendous providence and mercy of God. It reminds me that God truly does hear our prayers, and that he also knows what is best for us. God knows all things, and my perspective is extremely limited. Even if I think I know the best possible way for a prayer to be answered, my answers are probably not actually the best solution. Yet, God does have the solution, and this reality offers me a lot of hope, peace, and joy--which are far better than the worry and anxiety that could otherwise overwhelm me.  

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ asks: “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?” (Matt 6:27)

Do I need to worry about prayer intentions that aren’t being answered according to my desires?

Is it good to wrap myself up in anxiety or fear as I see the brokenness within myself and across the world?

Should I let my peace be destroyed as I grow saddened when I see a lack of peace in my local community, my parish, or the universal Church?

I don’t need to worry about solving all the problems of the world or within the Church; I need to focus on following God’s will right now, in the life he has given me.

God takes care of the birds in the sky and the flowers in the field. God listens to my seemingly-insignificant desires and offers me gifts in abundance. God hears my “big” prayer intentions, and he will answer them in his own way, in the proper time.

This, my friends, is a beautiful, incredible, joyous reality.


  1. I love this so much! I’ve had a few moments like these lately as well that have been such a blessing.

  2. This was so good and a great reminder for me. God is truly listening and at work, even in the smallest of ways!

    1. I'm glad this was a good reminder for you! It's funny, a couple days after I published this, one of those "unanswered prayers" hit a new looking back on this post was a reminder that I needed, even just after writing it haha!