The other day I was at Sonic, ordering a chicken sandwich for Rita, when I spotted an ad for the crispy deep-fried deliciousness that is their onion rings. (“Onion rings?” you ask. “But isn’t that junk food, which you gave up as part of your Saint Diet?” You see, dear reader, the little bit of cheating I did when I was so busy when Rita first got here reignited that carb addiction thing which led to me to have this brilliant idea that “if I’m going to fall off the wagon anyway I might as well make it a spectacular backward three-point-turn swan dive off the wagon!” I know. Anyway…)
So I saw the picture of the onion rings, and it triggered a reaction in my newly re-addicted brain that is probably most commonly found in rabid dogs or starving hyenas. Not ordering them was out of the question; in fact, I was doing good not to jump out of the car and rip that little speaker off the booth and scream into it “NOW! NOW! NOW! GIVE ME ONION RINGS NOW!”
I managed to feign sanity long enough to order, and, luckily for all involved, they promptly brought us our bag full of food. I fought onion-ring-induced shakes all the way home as I looked forward to this little treat — just the treat I needed (nay, deserved) after a tough day! As soon as we got home I opened the bag…there were Rita’s french fries…her sandwich…more french fries…
No onion rings. They gave me fries instead.
I was crushed. Crestfallen. Livid. Incensed. My mom called around that time and the first thing I did was lament my plight, walking her through the ordering process, emphasizing how very clearly I spoke the words “onion” and “rings.” My babysitter got multiple re-enactments of the saga, the Sonic employees becoming increasingly sinister with each retelling. After sulking around the kitchen and frowning at the zillions of free, nutritious things we had to eat in the house, I finally managed to move on, working in one final “But I WANTED onion rings” jab as I munched on leftover meatloaf.
Later that afternoon I was squeezing in a little prayer while the kids rested, and the thought popped into mind: Why didn’t I turn to God in that situation?
It’s especially odd because I always turn to God when big issues arise. When I’ve faced potentially life-changing problems like financial difficulties and health scares and surprise pregnancies I’ve turned to God, frequently praying about his will for the situation, remembering always that he can bring good out of any situation, clinging to my faith even when it seems like God is silent. Why on earth, I wondered, would I turn to God during big life crises but not in fast food mix-ups? Why is it second nature to cling to him during times of great trouble but not in the little annoyances of daily life?
I’ve been pondering that a lot over the past few days, and I think it comes down to this sad truth: I don’t turn to God in the little things because I don’t have to.
In the case of the missing onion rings, the pain wasn’t bad enough to force me to turn to God. I had other options. I could find some measure of relief through things like gossip, detraction and self pity, sinful actions that that made me feel better in this insignificant situation but that wouldn’t work to sooth me with a bigger problem. Also, I simply had other options to improve the situation without God’s help. My problems here were within my control — if I’d cared enough I could have gone back to Sonic and I’m sure they would have happily given me the onion rings. I didn’t need God to fix it because I had this one covered myself.
I’ve known for a long time that one of the things that distinguishes truly saintly people from the rest of us is that they turn to God with even the smallest daily matters, that they don’t compartmentalize life into “times to turn to God” and “times not to turn to God.” And now I see why. It comes not only from a deeper understanding of the truth that God is with us at every moment, but from a deeper faith and love. The shift that takes place when you begin to turn to God and prayerfully trust that he will bring good out of paper cuts and stubbed toes and lost onion rings is the shift of beginning to turn to God not just because you have to, but because you want to.