Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Love notes from God and Tiramisu

I recently ran into a terrible disappointment.

Isn't disappointment terrible? 
The hope of something and then the awful realization that it will not ever be reality.
I don't often handle small disappointments well, much less big ones.
This one was a relatively small one, but disappointing nonetheless.

I had toiled and planned and studied for 2 months to have the joy of teaching at my churches women's retreat.
I love my church.
I love these women.
I love teaching the bible.
I love retreating.
I was excited.

My sister was going to be teaching a workshop while there, and I feel a little like a momma hen would when it comes to being proud of my sister. 
Perhaps it's because I've spent my whole life bossing her around and feel that in some part, like a mother, I can claim some responsibility in her beauty.
But in reality I'm just a bossy sister...whose intensely proud.
Also,for the first time, along with my sister, my other sister(in law, for clarification, but not for title) was coming.
We were going go up to the mountain a day early and enjoy some rare childless time together, and some solitary retreat time before the bustle of the weekend.
Me, and my girls, a road trip and a mountain, some good food and some God time together. I couldn't be more pleased.
The ladies in my small group were going, too, for the first time this year,
whom I also adore and rarely get childless time with.

My studies had come to fruition.
I felt great about getting to deliver these messages.
So much to look forward to,
so much 

And then it happened.

2 days before I was scheduled to leave I started to feel sick.
With each passing day I felt sicker instead of better and as the drum beat grew louder, I grew sicker.
The day came that I was to leave and...
 I was to stay.
I, along with my entire family, had come down with the flu.
I've never even had the flu that I can recall.
And my entire family has NEVER been so beat down sick from a illness all at the same time.
The kids did the best with it.
Us adults are a different story, but I won't bore you with the gory details.
We were knocked out.

And to add insult to injury, I had the deep sense that I was missing out in a major way.
Not only did I feel terrible physically, but as I watched my girls drive off into the sunset while I rocked my pajamas and a fever, it was reallllly easy to feel sorry for myself.
Why would God do this?
Lead me to accept this invitation to teach...Spend countless hours I didn't really have to prepare...allow me to place so much expectation and anticipation on an event He knew I'd never even see the likes of? Force the women's ministry team to have reorganize the whole retreat at the last minute? And zap me with the flu in what appeared to be the worst timing ever?! 
I mean come on! 
Up till now your timings been pretty good, Lord.
You tell the ocean where it's boundary lines are.
You keep the earth orbiting and the sun shining at the perfect distance in the perfect timing.
And that doesn't even include all the timing involved in the rest of creation.
When the rains come to water the ground to bring forth fruit and beauty,
the changing of seasons, the provision of food for animals...
Surely you can handle giving my the flu ANY OTHER weekend but this one?!
I'm not asking for much here.

Now these thought were not this strong or articulated.
That's the way lies work.
They're rarely so obvious in our thoughts.
They like to seep in like goo that you don't even notice until something smells bad instead of just exploding into your thoughts.

But let me tell you about something that I realized that terrible weekend.
Here's how it happened.

There were two moments in particular that I was most tempted to wallow in disappointment.
One was the day everyone left.
And I didn't.

As the goo was seeping into my brain, a precious friend who gives generously into my life in so many ways at so many times, texted me and said something like this,
"call me or text me what groceries you want cause I'm at the store and you're either gonna get what you want or some random stuff at your door."
I told her what we needed to survive the next couple of days without much meal preparation, and she delivered bags and bags of groceries to my front door, on her way out to the retreat.
Then a dear, long time friend whom I never see enough because of our crazy lives, called and asked if she could bring us dinner.
I'm not crazy. And she's a great cook.So I agreed.
She dropped off a made-to-order meal that literally lasted us dayyyyyyssss.
Roasted chicken, salad, macaroni and cheese, AND baked oatmeal for breakfast the next day, along with healthy, whole fruit popsicles.

It was that day,amidst that generosity, that I recognized the goo for what it was.
Doubting God's wisdom,kindness and goodness to me.
And the only way I recognized it was these ladies kindness to me.

You see, in those moments, when groceries were being delivered to my door, that I know took a chunk of time and money to deliver.
When steaming hot,delicious food, that I know took far too long to prepare was being dropped at my doorstop, I felt sure that God loves me and cares for me.
It was like He was saying,
"Listen, I know this is hard, I do. Which is why I'm here with you, comforting you through my people. Yes, I put you here, in bed with the flu.
But I know it's not easy. You're just going to have to trust me."

It happened again on the last day of the retreat. Upon hearing how well my sissy had done, I despaired to think that the first time she spoke publicly, I didn't get to sit in the audience and make eye contact with her. The kind of eye contact that she would have known meant, 
"I love you! You can do this! I'm so proud of you!!!! I've watched God work in your life all these years. Tell them about!"
So I did the only thing I could think to do in my sick, pouty moment. 
I went to bed.
The doorbell rang and in my pouting I thought,
It' ain't Publishers Clearing House.
It can wait."
So I stayed in bed.

Then my phone rang.
It was a wonderful friend, who has acted out her wonderful friendness to me many times before.
She was calling to say that she had left something on my front porch and didn't want "a cat to get it."
After a moment of wondering if she had left me catnip and a squeaky mouse on my doorstep, I stumbled out to find a pink gerber daisy and my favorite dessert, Tiramisu.
Which I've heard cats love, especially italian ones.
I snatched it up before Fluffy could attack and went back to my room feeling loved.
But not JUST by these girls.
By God.
I may be slow.
But I'm no fool.
I know the reason they did what they did.
It was Him
Being WITH me in my disappointment.
Reminding me with His compassion that just because it's for my growth and it's for His glory, the hard thing can still feel hard and here's a flower to make you feel better.

You should read the whole thing. It's not long.
 But in part of it, he says this

"So I did the same thing again and again. I would kneel down in front of them at eye level and say, "Please look at Daddy's face. Do you know how much I love you? Do you know that your Daddy is not a mean, bad man? Do you know that I would never ask you to do anything that would hurt you or make you sick? I am sorry that you can't understand why Daddy is asking you to do this. I wish I could explain it to you, but you are too young to understand. So I am going to ask you to do something—trust Daddy. When you walk down the hallway to do what Daddy has asked you to do, say to yourself, 'My Daddy loves me. My Daddy would never ask me to do something bad. I am going to trust my Daddy and stop trying to be the Daddy of my Daddy.'"
God does the same thing with you, over and over again. He meets you in one of the difficult hallways of your life, kneels down before you in condescending love, and asks you to trust his loving and wise rule, even though you don't have a clue what he is doing.
He knows there are many times when your life doesn't look like there is anyone ruling it, let alone someone wise and good. He knows there will be times when you will wish you could be the author of your own story. He knows that at times you will be overwhelmed by what is on your plate. He knows that his plan will confuse and confound you. And he knows that real rest cannot be found in understanding, because, like my children, there are things, as a limited human being, you simply do not have the capacity to understand."

So next time you know a friend could be struggling and you think about doing something nice for them, remember it doesn't even really matter WHAT you do, small or big, it's just the doing that ushers in God's reminder note to that person. The note that say,"I'm still here. I love you." 

1 comment:

Arica said...

That was beautifully written. I pray that you and your family get better soon. I must admit that God is using you in so many ways in my life. I tend to forget in all my hustle and bustle of everyday life that I just need to sit and seek him and realize that even though things are not always great that He is there. And, reading your post today just comfirmed that for me. I, however, would have handled it totally different. I would have just wallowed the whole time. I hate to say it but, sometimes I feel like I just love self pity.
So, again I thank God for your post and ask Him to Bless you and your family.