The Un-Jilting of Rachel

By Loureva Slade

    

     Rachel sat on a red and white square blanket under a large broad-leaf tree in Cheviot Hills Park.  With her thin legs folded beneath her, Rachel scrolled through the text messages on her iPhone for the hundredth time to make sure she hadn’t gotten the time or date wrong.  The text from Mike said to meet him here at 12 o’clock today.  It was a quarter past one.  She had already called and texted him a few times but he hadn’t responded.

 

     She clicked onto his BeSocial page.  As few as two minutes ago, he had liked a picture of a Tesla and commented, “Wish I was driving this right now.”  Rachel couldn’t believe her eyes.  He was commenting on pictures of cars when he was supposed to be with her.  She clicked under his comment and typed, “@mike_squarepants I can’t stand liars…especially not at 1:15.”

 

     She clicked onto her own profile and updated her status.  “Disappointed.  Again.”

 

     Rachel set her phone down and took a deep breath.

 

     Why was it so difficult for her to find love?  And why did guys think it was ok to talk with her on the phone, plan picnics in the park, and then just stand her up?  Why did it seem impossible to find a single man she could trust to be completely honest with her—someone who would actually show up?  Rachel knew one thing—she was never going to talk to Mike again.  Even if he texted her and apologized and even if he sent her a dozen roses there was no way she would excuse the pain and embarrassment she felt in this moment.

 

     A bluebird landed on a picnic table not too far from where Rachel sat.  She noticed how small and delicate the little bird was.  She couldn’t help but feel a little envious of the bird because it wouldn’t ever have to deal with a broken heart. 

 

     Matthew 6:26 immediately came to her mind.  “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not more valuable than they?” 

 

     Am I not more valuable than that bird, Lord? Rachel wondered.

 

     She hoped to hear an audible response from her invisible God, but He said nothing.

 

     Rachel wiped a tear from her eye and decided to try and make the best of her day.  She wanted to have a really good cry—the kind that would take a couple days to recover from.  But she would have to wait until she got home for that.  Rachel dug into a brown picnic basket that she had neatly packed for her first meeting with Mike and pulled out a ham sandwich.  She took a bite but found it difficult to get the food past the familiar lump in her throat.  She put the sandwich back in the bag and the bag back in the basket.

 

     Just as Rachel contemplated heading home, an elderly couple she had noticed when she first arrived made eye contact with her, smiled, and headed in her direction.  

 

     Oh great, she thought and tensed up.  She wasn’t in the mood for small talk.

 

     As they approached her, the old lady smiled brightly and said, “Young lady, I just had to come and tell you how nice you look.  I really like that bow in your hair.”

 

     “Really?” Rachel asked, sensing the lady’s genuineness.  She relaxed.  How sweet, she thought.  “Thank you,” she said and blushed.

 

     “I had one just like it when I was your age.  I guess it’s true that all styles come back, huh?” the old lady asked and glanced at her husband.  He smiled and nodded.

 

     “I guess so,” Rachel said, returning her smile.

 

     “Are you meeting someone?” the old lady asked.

 

     “I was supposed to.  But he never showed up.”

 

     “His loss,” the old lady said with a knowing smile.

 

     “Thank you,” Rachel said, wishing she believed the old lady.

 

     “Trust me.  God has better for you.  He’s working everything out for your good.”

 

     Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28, Rachel thought.

 

     “I hope so.”

 

     The old man nudged the old lady and she looked at her watch before hurriedly saying, “Well it was so nice to talk with you, young lady.  And don’t forget to smile.  It’s a beautiful day and God loves you.”

 

     Rachel smiled politely and nodded as the couple headed toward the parking lot. 

 

     Rachel sighed.  That brief exchange had actually made her feel a little better.

 

     Rachel exhaled and noticed that the temperature had seemed to drop a few degrees since she first arrived.  She was no longer sweating as she had been an hour ago.  It felt like it was probably about 75 degrees—the perfect temperature. 

 

     From the corner of her eye she spotted something small and furry scurrying toward a nearby ficus tree.  She turned to see an adorable squirrel.  He seemed to notice her at the same time she turned and he stopped just long enough to smile at her.  (At least it looked like a smile.) 

 

     The squirrel’s eyes were black pearls.  His bushy tail wagged excitedly as he continued on to climb the tree’s pale brown trunk.  He stopped abruptly after jumping onto one of its low branches.  The squirrel looked out at the park grounds below and seeming pleased, laid down on the branch and closed his eyes. 

 

     The leaves rustled as the wind blew ever so gently.   Rachel noticed that the tree’s outstretched branches and leaves formed a perfect circle.  As her eyes continued upward, beyond the tree, she was awed by the brilliant color of sky.  It was the most enchanted blue she had ever seen, with white cumulous clouds sprinkled throughout.

 

     It was a beautiful day, indeed.

 

     With her eyes fixed above, Rachel felt an overwhelming sensation that she had often felt and ignored in the past.  She felt a prodigious sense of peace.  It was as if her disappointment just dissipated.  The breeze blew the leaves around her and Rachel smiled. 

 

     It finally made sense.

 

     The change in plans, the bluebird, the “silence,” the old lady, the perfect weather, the adorable squirrel, the gentle breeze, the fluffy clouds, and the lovely sky.  They had all been strategically placed to draw her attention back to Him—the Lover of Her Soul.  The feeling that she had felt so often before but ignored was the feeling of true love from her Heavenly Father.

 

     What had seemed like silence had been Him speaking all along.

 

     Another tear rolled down Rachel’s cheek.  This time it was a tear of joy.

 

     Rachel thought about being jilted by Mike and thanked God for protecting her from what she couldn’t see.  Her heart was extremely fragile, and God, in his omniscience, knew that the two of them wouldn’t be a good fit.  He obviously did have better for her, as the old lady had suggested, and Rachel could finally see it.

 

     Rachel thought about how often random strangers would spot her out and talk to her about God.  It wasn’t as if they were trying to convert her.  It was more like they knew she was a believer and just had something to get off their chests.  And it was interesting that the scriptures or words these random strangers spoke often ministered to exactly what she herself was going through at that moment.  She realized now that God had been speaking to her through people all along.

 

     God loved her.  He absolutely loved her.  She was intensely aware of it now.

 

     In church a few weeks ago, a guest speaker had said that God wants to be our everything.  He desires an intimate and personal relationship with us.  The speaker had said that God wants us to have His absolute best, but we must seek Him first.

 

     All that had sounded good at the time, but the problem was that she couldn’t actually see God.  Rachel wanted something tangible.  She wanted to feel love’s touch.  She wanted to be held in someone’s arms and made to feel special.  But now that she was paying attention, she could see that He had been there all along—loving her deeply.

 

     Rachel felt God’s undivided attention directly upon her.  Her body tingled at the thought.  There was no one or nothing in this world that could make her feel as ecstatic as she did in this moment.  After closing her eyes and thanking Him for His love, she invited Him to have a seat and dine with her. 

 

     And there, in Cheviot Hills Park, where birds chirped, children played, and cars whizzed by on Pico and Motor, Rachel shared a meal with God and she basked in His love—true LOVE.