By Jenna Ebener
I knew something needed to change. My mind still felt drained, even after two months off for the summer. I had also experienced some crushing blows, including the passing away of a student and my family dog. God helped me realize I was not fully prepared to start another school year. So, I prayed. I asked God to give me what I needed and to help me know what I needed to heal. For Jesus said “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7). I have realized the beauty of these words, especially over the past few months. For God wants nothing more than to receive our love, and it is his great pleasure to answer our pleas when they fit into his holy plan for us.
One great caveat: you never quite know the extent of what you are asking for. God answered my plea in ways I could not have imagined. While he helped me re-evaluate some obvious things, like what time I go to bed, he provided me nudges in interesting directions. Within days, I received an email asking me to consider being on the core team for my church’s youth group. After praying, I realized this opportunity could be exactly what I needed and I accepted. While I absolutely love my profession of working with students with intense needs, it can be draining. God showed me a way to find some balance by also working with students who are typically developing. Being able to interact with children who can play games and share their faith has allowed me to use my gifts in a different way and to appreciate even more the variety of God’s children.
While youth group was another step in the right direction, God was not finished. Ever since my cat had passed away seven years ago, I had been counting down the days until I could find another companion. Between college, starting my career, and renovating a new home, the time had not been right. I finally decided to begin my search and asked God to make the decision clear. Five shelters later, I was feeling desperate and wondering what God’s plan was. I am a huge animal lover and was nervous that I had not felt any connection with any of the cats I had seen. Then, I entered the sixth shelter. The cat I went to see was not the one. Since I was there, I decided to check out another cat. I opened up his cage and he immediately climbed onto my shoulder and started purring. I was sold! However, as I went to the office to fill out paperwork, I started doubting. I had not had a cat in so long, I wondered if I was ready to have another pet.
I see now that it was the devil placing doubts in my head. For that cat was exactly what I needed and has brought me even closer to God. Each day, my Jaspurr brings me countless smiles and laughs. God gave me a cat with a personality that fills what I so desperately needed and I am so grateful for the journey he placed me on to find him. What has been the most healing for me is having a companion to pour my love into and sending that love back to God through my gratitude. I think I have a small idea of what led God to send his son to earth: to save the people he unconditionally loves. As we celebrate this Christmas season, where are you pouring your love?
(Jenna Ebener graduated in 2015 with a Master of Social Work from St. Ambrose University in Davenport.)