Monday, July 30, 2007

The WHO

The scenery blurred by, as scenery often does. It moved with a stubborn destination. Behind, always behind me, pushing everything forward, moving the truck I was in closer and closer to the end. It was inevitable. Unless the earth opened up and swallowed this entire vehicle whole, which I've not often know the earth to do, we'd be in Van Buren, Arkansas in a matter of moments.
I was on my way to what most of us in the working world like to call, "The life-sucking, self-esteem deflating, deadly first day." My first day. There was a job laying rubber base at a construction site in Arkansas and it was mine. For two days, at least. Then, if all went according to plan, the location would change, the job would not.
But there was a minor problem. I didn't know how to do it. I'd had a grand total of one hour's training the day before. My brother - the expert - would be there. But, but, but....no buts. It was a job and after two months of unemployment, I needed whatever I could get.
I wouldn't say it was a terrible experience. But then again, another adjective doesn't come to mind. The site was crawling, dusty inch by dusty inch, with workers. Everyone in a hurry. Everyone a different task. And most everyone not English speaking.
Armed with a razor blade and glue gun, I hit the floor. We only had 1,700 feet to cover, give or take a millimeter. Better get started.
It was a revealing day, as was the day after, as has been the days since as I take to the floor armed with a straight edge and a desire to pay my mortgage.
Here's a few truths I've discovered:
- Pay attention to your surroundings or you're bound to whack yourself in the head, hard, in front of everyone. And embarrassment will linger long after the bruise.
- It really is hard not to flash your underwear when bent over for hours at a time. Let's give plumbers a break.
- If you are a female and seeking male attention, try strapping on knee pads. They get attention. Go figure.
- Being outside our element gives us better directions on getting back in.
I didn't belong there on that site. I knew that. So did most of the men who came up to ask me, "What are you doing here?" I was on the floor, cutting pieces of rolled base, strapped with a glue gun and a dangerous glint of perspiration. If they couldn't figure it out, explaining it wouldn't help.
I've asked God a few trillion times in my life exactly what He wanted me to do. "What God? What IS it? Just say the word. What should I do with my life?" That day, I didn't hear Him say a word. I didn't need to. I knew, without the booming voice and cracking thunder.
The answer was not WHAT but WHO. Who am I? I'm a writer. Actions always follow.
What does God want you to do? Forget the What. Focus on the Who. Answer that. And until you can figure it out, explaining it won't help.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

To Grandmother's house we go

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.

Friday, July 6, 2007

this side of delirium

I was going to tell you all about it.
Just finished a 22-hour workday, most of it on a new little job venture. Or maybe just experience is a better word. And I wanted to share, as I've been doing, as I promised I would do.

But I'm not going to do that. Not right now. You see, I'm tired. I'm really, really tired. 26 hours and counting, no sleep. And I've just worked the most physically laborious day in my short-term memory.
The sun is up. But I'm going to bed.

Despite the fact I've spent a large portion of my time thinking of a...oh...possibly amusing (or maybe I was just bored and it amused me) blog to write, at this moment I can't think of one bloody thing at is funny. Not one. Geez. Give me a minute here....hmmmm...nope. I can't even remember a knock-knock joke.

So instead, I'm going to get some sleep, if I remember how. And tell you all about it later.

Wait...I just remembered this one.
Knock knock...