Looking back I am glad for all the prayers and affirmations that were “unanswered” — actually they were answered, “No!” If I had received what I wanted I would not be where I am today. I would not like that!
There is an old saying that goes, “Be careful what you pray for, you might get your request.”
Guidance from “The Divine” (please substitute the name or term that is most appropriate for you) can be experienced though prayer requests that are met and unmet. Prayer is defined as, “is the act of attempting to communicate with a deity or spirit.” Positive thinking, affirmations, visualization, etc., can also be understood as kinds of prayer requests.
There have been many ferverent prayers and requests in my life that seemed to go unanswered. Actually they were answered. The answer was: “No!”
Now that I look back, with perspective on many of those unfulfilled requests, I am so glad I did not get my way! I would not be who I am today and doing what I am doing had some of the requests come true.
What I am now doing is basically what I described as a teenager, only back then I could see no way of ever accomplishing my purposes. For one thing the smallest known particle was an electron, and until string and M theory were created, I had no way to paint symbolically showing the essential energies or pre-matter of the universe.
I have found that my heartfelt prayers are always somehow answered. These are the requests that well up from my spirit, that have little to do with my comfort, any ego expression or getting me out of a jam I managed to get into all by my self.
Almost all of my interests, training and experience basically came together and are necessary for me to found and create Post Conceptual UnGraven Image Art theory, and now also The Art of Seeing The Divine books, which are like empowering and inspirational seminars in book format. That my life has been leading to this is a blessing of answered prayer that amazes me everyday. And it only gets better.
Creative people, artists, writers, composers, above the line professionals in film and theatre all experience inspiration or guidance. This is the mythological “bringing the fire down from heaven”. Athletes refer to this immediate inspiration as being in the flow. We find it easiest to become inspired, intuitively take the best action and be in the flow in the areas where our unique talents lie. We all have unique talents.
Yet someone (like me!) who can be inspired and in the flow in one endeavor can only a few minutes later be almost wretchedly on one’s own when the task involved is one outside of one’s gifts and expertise. In some ways, this may be The Divine keeping us humble, and it also means that as human beings we need each other. We all have gifts and talents to contribute.
Although prayer is not officially allowed in public schools and colleges, our educational system that insists that all students master a variety of subjects towards creating a well rounded individual has resulted in much prayer. Students pray for good grades in areas where they lack talent.
I had a difficult time with foreign languages; especially speaking them as I am so visually oriented. As I look back walking into French class was like entering an intense prayer service for me.
In my senior year of high school the only subject I studied every day at outside of the classroom with intensity and for any length of time was French. I studied as if my life depended on it, but fortunately it only seemed to. If effort and determination counted I would have received an “A” but by the end of the semester my grade was a “58”.
Part of the problem was my teacher, whose name I remember well but will not mention. Today, she would be dismissed, but things were different then and she had tenure.
I was tall, blonde, buxom and quite pretty, which meant more to her than it did to me. Outside of French class I was quite bright and had good grades. I was more focused on art, intellectual pursuits, volunteering and politics, as were my best friends.
That teacher disliked me from day one. Now as an adult who does not personalize other’s problems much, I understand that the short and stubby teacher, who was gaining on the other side of middle age, with badly bleached close cropped hair much like a man’s, was probably well suited for different work, which was closed to her due to the fact she was female. She was deeply angry, frustrated and jealous. She had a reputation for her behavior in the school and the only students who liked her were her few pets who were always short girls.
She publicly berated and ridiculed me whenever she could, picking on my posture, my appearance, and when – there was no if– I made a mistake, she yelled and screamed at me. I remember she even purposefully kicked my leg once as she walked in the aisle. When I did manage to get a question right, she would ignore that and soon find something to criticize. That she behaved this way to many other students did not console me.
The minute the teacher would call upon me, I went totally blank. To add to my fear, I needed to pass French to meet my language requirements for an academic diploma and graduate. This one class was bringing down my otherwise straight A average. I was studying, praying, wishing and a hoping but nothing was helping me.
I had given up all my lunchtimes to work in the guidance office so that I could have Mr. Bertram Katz for every art class he taught that I could take. Of course I had also prayed to be able to make up a schedule that included the classes I wanted that were taught by Mr. Katz.
When I went to make up my schedule for the spring semester of my senior year the only way I could take art with Mr. Katz was to take French honors, and I definitely was ineligible. I had already “lucked out” in that this year it was determined that students failing in a language class could move on to the next semester and their grade average for the full year would count.
The guidance teacher I worked for took me to see Mrs. Henrietta Rattiner, who headed up the French department and taught the French honors class. He asked for special permission for me to take French honors so that I could have the schedule for art classes with Mr. Katz. Mostly, I recall looking at Mrs. Rattiner as I sobbed with tears of fear and grief. No one in the school had ever seen me cry before. I would have agreed to anything, but was only asked to promise to study hard and accept being tutored, which was arranged with a college student.
As if it happened this morning, I remember the first time when Mrs.Rattiner called on me in honors French class. As was the custom, I stood up. She said something to me in French, but I was already blank and trying hard to look calm and stand steady. There was an uneasy pause. The rest of the class, all honors students (as I was in all my other classes) stared at me, which made things worse.
Then Mrs. Rattiner did something different. She smiled at me and slowly walked towards me saying encouragingly, “You know the answer. I know you do. Let’s try it again.” Then she repeated her question in French, and I did know the answer!
Granted, once I realized I knew the answer, I also knew it was a fairly simple question. Yet, Mrs. Rattiner then praised me, smiled some more and I sat down, wide eyed that for the first time in a long time I actually was not nauseous in French class.
Mrs. Rattiner continued to encourage me and let me know that she believed in me throughout the semester. I worked very hard, the tutor also helped a lot because I heard and spoke more of the language. As she encouraged me, I began to have more confidence outside of the areas of my talents. Learned that I could achieve more than I or the “authorities” in my life ever expected.
In Mrs. Rattiner’s class my average was in the low nineties. Since the final performance was weighted, my final grade in French for the year was in the low eighties. So, I could graduate with an academic diploma with honors.
If I had earned good grades despite the awful teacher in the first semester of French, I would have missed one of the most valuable lessons of my life that I learned from Mrs. Rattiner: believing in myself and encouraging others. Speaking some French has not come in anywhere near as useful.
Many years later, the experience helped teach me an even more important lesson about the blessings of unanswered prayers.
Tags: affirmation, affirmations, answered, answered prayer, be careful what you ask for, Bible, blessings, ferverent prayer, God, Henrietta Rattiner, inspiration, life lesson, prayer, prayers, spiritual, success, teacher, The Divine, unanswered prayer, unsuccessful affirmation