An Inconvenient Prompting

A little over 8 years ago now I received a spiritual prompting (what some might call a gut-feeling) that was extremely inconvenient. It was telling me not to do something I really wanted to do and for no obvious reason. I didn’t want to listen to this prompting but looking back, I’m so grateful I did.

I was living just outside of Vienna, Austria working as an Au Pair for a lovely family with four kids. I had a very nice work schedule that allowed me to get off early on Fridays and have the rest of the weekend free! I took these weekend opportunities to travel as much as possible during the year that I was to live there. One particular weekend in November of 2009 I had planned to visit Budapest, Hungary by myself. It was only a 3 hour train ride from Vienna and I had wanted to visit the city for a very long time. I’d had a picture of the Majestic parliament building resting on the Danube hanging on my wall for a few years and I was so excited to finally see it in person.

This trip had been planned a few weeks in advance – the tickets were bought, the hostel was reserved, and both my host family and actual family were well-informed of my plans. About one week before I was to leave I started feeling that I shouldn’t go on this trip. However, there was no logical reason that I shouldn’t and I knew I wouldn’t get my money back for the tickets or the hostel if I cancelled now. I chalked it up to nerves and tried ignoring the feeling. But, like I mentioned earlier, this prompting was extremely inconvenient. In other words, it was annoying and unwilling to relent. I wrestled internally for days about what do to, going back and forth between feelings and logic. On Thursday of that week, the day before I was to leave, I received a phone call via Skype (this was pre-FaceTime days) from my parents. This was particularly unusual as I typically spoke with them on Sundays only. I visited with them for a little while before I eventually confided in them that I was having reservations about my upcoming trip to Budapest. They exchanged a look between themselves and then enthusiastically replied, “We’re so glad to hear that!” My parents then explained that they each had had feelings that I should not go on this trip. Neither of them knew why but the feelings, much like mine, were diligent in delivering their message. We continued to discuss the issue for a few minutes with my dad even offering to help me out with the money I would lose in exchange for promise of postponing the trip. It was decided, I would not go.

Once the decision to postpone my trip was made, I was overcome with relief, yet I still did not understand why. It wasn’t until the next day that Matthias, my host dad, came running down to my room to check on me that I finally understood. He informed me that an American girl had been stabbed on the very train I was supposed to be on that morning! Isabelle, my host mom, had known that I was thinking of changing my plans so Matthias was frantic to make sure that was true. A wave of relief washed over him when I answered my door and a second wave washed over me as I listened to him tell me about the train incident, realizing that my prompting just might have saved my life.

I don’t know all the circumstances behind the stabbing on the train that day. But it could have just as easily been me with a knife in my chest that day. I don’t know if that girl had similar feelings as I did and ignored them. Or if she didn’t feel anything at all. But I do know that my testimony of spiritual promptings and gut feelings grew ten-fold that day and I plan on continuing to listen.

I did eventually make it to Budapest, but that story deserves its own post (or perhaps its own book)!