The Story of September Seventeenth

There’s been a great debate as to whether my Spanish name is Raquelita or Raquelito. I won’t bore you with the details here, but based on everything I know about Spanish, Raquelita just makes sense. Yesterday, my dear student explained to me that it just isn’t as it seems and everything I know about Spanish just doesn’t apply here--I am indeed Raquelito. He went on to let me know that it’s some super strange and extremely rare exception to all of the rules.

Ha. Well that is ironic.

Of course my name--my name--would be a super strange and rare exception. It suits me somehow. I’m strange, I know it. I do and like strange things. I always have. Exhibit A: my obsession with the month of September. If you haven’t already heard. Exhibit B: September 17--my most favorite day of the entire year and my own personal “holiday.” No. It’s not my birthday. Yes. I do like it more than my birthday.

I figured since I’ll be blowing up Instagram with September 17th posts, I may as well bring you up to speed. And quite honestly, it’s a good story and a story I haven’t told or even thought about in far too long. The truth is, September 17th is not just a day that I like, it’s actually the anniversary of a monumental moment for my faith and one I’ve chosen to reflect on each and every year.

Rewind to late August of 2007.That’s more than a decade ago by the way. I was just beginning my college career and dealing with more drama than I care to remember. The end of my very first relationship (whom I believed to be the love of my life back then) and the long drawn out limbo that too often follows. And on top of that, my pink Dell laptop was on serious back order.

That’s right. I said my pink Dell laptop. Remember when those rainbow Dell computers were all the rage? Is Dell even still a thing? Unfortunately since everyone wanted one, the wait was long. In true Rachel fashion, I was growing impatient. I was also growing rather impatient with this boy. We were in this weird and extremely painful in between space and I was over it and super convinced that we were supposed to get back together. You can imagine, he was not at all in the same place. I remember the uncomfortable conversation--something had to change. I decided that on September 17th (I had always loved the sound of that date, and it was just around the corner) I would fast and pray and ask him to do the same, hoping that we could get some clarity and move forward. Of course there was only one direction that I wanted to move.

The day came. I woke up with a heavy heart. I went about my routine as usual, saw him only briefly, and shed many tears as I prayed and cried out from my broken heart in between classes. I probably filled a journal that day.

Pause: The pink Dell laptop that I had ordered in June was on delay yet again. From July until August and now until further notice.My dad reminded me of this on our drive home earlier that week. Many times I had nearly called and canceled the order all together. Why was I waiting around for a silly laptop just because it was pink? There were plenty of other laptops that were all good and fine that would show up on my doorstep ten zillion times faster. But then I would think about what it would feel like when I saw other people on campus walking around with those colorful computers and how I would be angry with myself every single time that I had settled for lack of patience. That was the key here. I’m not kidding when I say that God was speaking to me through this laptop... was I willing to wait for the best that God had for me or was I just going to give up and settle for whatever I could have in the moment?

I guess at that point I knew. A couple of things actually. I knew that the outcome of this day would not be what I had hoped. I also knew somehow that God had a different outcome planned for me--a better one perhaps---I just had to trust Him for it. Still looking out the car window, I quietly told my dad that the laptop would show up that day. He chuckled and looked at me funny wondering if I had heard what he’d just said again only a moment ago. I had. But it didn’t matter. I knew that laptop would be there.

When we were finally home, I went straight to the couch. I answered the call and hardly heard a word that he said. I just wanted to go to sleep. I already knew of course and it was just as I had suspected. In that strange state between asleep and awake, I had a little chat with Jesus. I did not in fact want to settle. I did want that pink laptop even if it meant an uncomfortably long wait. But, He was gently reminding me, waiting for what He had would always be worth it.

I woke up to my dad softly shaking me. As I opened my eyes I could see through that evening nap blur that he had a big grin on his face. It took me a second to orient myself, but after a moment I could also see a large box in the corner by the door.

“How did you know it would come today,” he asked me sort of laughing. “They just told me at the beginning of this week that it could be another month.”

I closed my eyes and said a silent thank you. I might have even smiled a bit through my exhaustion.

And that was that. The moment that defined my faith and my walk with Jesus. The event that defined September 17th.

He was in fact faithful. And kind and generous and good. He was as much all of those things as I had always believed He was. He was going to show up--always. All that was required of me was to wait and to trust--always. To wait on his perfect timing and to trust that He had the best in store….if I refused to settle.

So yes, I love September seventeenth because it’s a lovely alliteration and because the sky and the air are all sorts of sapphire blue and the sun is golden and glowing warm. But mostly I love September seventeenth because it is the day that God showed His heart to me. The day that He invited me to adventure with Him and asked me if I was in. It’s the day that I told Him that I was, whatever that might look like. The day that I decided I would not settle for anything less than His very best and that I would trust Him through it all.

And so it’s a day that I take to reflect and to celebrate that grand adventure, all that’s happened along the way, how good and faithful He has been, and to remind myself that settling is not an option--ever--in spite of the wait--because I told Him I was all in. And I still am.

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