It happened every time I stayed over at my grandma's.
Maybe it was because I rarely stayed over. Maybe it was delirium from the perfumed air freshener that smelled like old candles. Maybe it was the spike in my blood sugar from all the homemade cookies. Maybe it was because I slept so deeply, so serenely, so undisturbed.
Every time, without fail, I always woke up from a nap or a full-night's sleep in complete oblivion. I'd never held such confusion until that moment. I awoke to a room, an environment, I couldn't place. I had no memory of it, although I'd been here hundreds of times. This was foreign to me, though I knew it as well as my own room.
And realization didn't come quickly. I'd lay there for awhile, trying to place where I'd seen that dresser against the wall, who was talking outside the door, what that smell was in my room (the old candles again). Slowly, ever so painfully slowly, the dawning happened. I remembered. Grandma's house.
I woke up Sunday morning with that feeling. Or at least a residue of that feeling. I recognized my room. I recognized the smell I know as home (new candles). I even remembered my dresser and the third drawer that always gets stuck. But that's as far as I went. I couldn't recall being here before, not this place, not this life, not this uncertainty.
It was like suffering from selective amnesia, although I had forgotten nothing. My life was unrecognizable.
The message at church was helpful, if not comforting. And I listened as the pastor used clips from the movie, "Pursuit of Happyness" with Will Smith, to show how affliction brings about brokenness, and brokenness unabashed joy. When we come to the end of ourselves, we finally open our eyes to see God. He was there the whole time. We just didn't recognize Him, much like the smell at Grandma's house.
It's then that deliverance can be, without inhibitions, celebrated.
This week has been a tough one, and it's only Wednesday. It always seems as if bad news travels with a few bad news companions. And my family is a bit bone tired. I don't even think Grandma's homemade cookies can right this wrong.
But as I sat across from my parents Monday night at dinner, traveling back to my hometown and a life I use to recognize, I kept seeing that image of Will Smith at the end of the movie. I kept seeing him walk into that crowd outside Dean Witter, seeing the look of complete deliverance on his face, seeing his hands raise in victory, clapping and clasping above his head.
I guessing Chris Gardner, the man Smith played, didn't recognize his life at that moment. I'm willing to wager he had never seen this place before. I bet he didn't even know the smell.
But he embraced it nonetheless. It was his, whether familiar or not. And this was his moment to celebrate his unknown without inhibitions.
Sometimes life just doesn't make sense. It doesn't have to. It never promised me or you or even Will Smith that it would. God never promised either.
But this is what He did say, this is what He did promise:
He's here. In the unfamiliar. In the brokenness. In the unknown.
He's here. No further than a whisper. No further than a thought.
He's here. Making order from chaos. Making deliverance in dismay.
He's simply here.
This is the rest I've been seeking, the joy I'm going to embrace, available even outside of Grandma's house, available even inside the unknown.