Sick day teedbits – disjointed and misconnected and slightly incoherent because I am as well:
In which a girl who cries alone tells another, “I just don’t want you to cry alone.” I don’t know how to respond to her statement so I let out a barely audible “hmm.” The both of us look quietly out of the glass paned windows that face the skyline of Philly and contemplate whatever it is that is on our minds. I remember how I believed that cities were the loneliest of places – where people are surrounded by people yet still feel so alone in the midst of tall buildings, busy schedules, and dwindling relationships. As I observe the networks of streets and lines of blinking lights, I reevaluate my opinion. It’s not the city that makes you lonely, it is you yourself who chooses to be alone.
Perhaps as much as we have a desire for companionship so do we also have a desire to be alone. So we build up barricades; we reach out hesitantly and withdraw halfway, open up partially then clamp down tighter than before (or perhaps that’s just me). As I reason to myself why I like crying alone (well I’m not alone, I have Jesus, He’s the only one who can comfort me, He’s the only one who won’t judge me), I come to the conclusion (again) that I’m a coward.
God spreads His hand out towards the city and tells me, “Look here. Why would you choose to cry alone when I have allowed so many wonderful people into your life? Do you find me so petulant that I want you to go to only Me? I did not create you to be alone.”
“But, it is absolutely terrifying to lay your soul bare before someone else,” I muse to myself. To which Jesus replies, “Where is your faith, child?”
Ahh. Valid question.
I ask her how she became Christian when she grew up in a non-Christian family, curious as to how she became exposed to the faith. She relates to me how she attended a missionary high school that required her to attend church and how she eventually came to the faith. Then she tells me how she prayed for thirty years for her family to come to know Christ and how every single member (of her ten person family) has come to know Christ with the exception of one, including her father who accepted Christ right before he passed away. She pauses in her dialogue, nods and looks thoughtfully back at me before saying, “yeah, God keeps His promises.” She says it with a humble sense of wonder, her words so soft I nearly miss it. But, I hear it and it takes every fiber of my being not to break down in the middle of the coffee shop, shocked and confused as to why such a statement would shake me.
“God keeps His promises.”
Thirty years. Thirty years she spent waiting and praying and I think about my family and the number of my age (22 – eight years less than thirty) and how I prayed for barely a year and called it quits because I didn’t see results, I got tired, I got weary. She tells me to keep praying for my family and part of me balks. “I cried so much for my family,” she says as a quiet afterthought and my heart weeps. I wonder how long the Lord will make me cry for mine.
I give her a hug and walk away reluctantly, remembering a blessing prayed over me at Urbana: “The Lord wants to bless you with 100 spiritual mothers in the place of your own who does not yet know Christ.” I don’t bother to add a mental tick mark to my list of growing spiritual mothers…it seems a bit misgiving to keep count so I drop my head and smile silently to myself.
“Yes, Lord, indeed you keep your promises.”
In which my senior asks, “But, you’re happy right? You like work…what you’re doing now?” It’s ironic – I’m not happy at all when he asks the question and nearly burst into tears as I flash him the fakest smile I’ve ever manufactured in my life. I don’t trust myself to open my mouth (lest some strange sort of wail/hiccup replace the impromptu lie I am prepared to tell) and nod slowly instead.
Just today, I tell myself. Just for today, I am not happy.
To which I don’t quite know how to reply anymore, to such a simple, mundane how’ve-you-been question. “Less busy,” is my over-worn, standard rely. “It’s getting harder and harder to get up every day knowing I have to go to work,” is what I want to really say.
It’s not the nature of the job (I knew coming in that busy season hours are brutal). It’s not the people (they bring me quite a lot of joy throughout the day). It’s not the actual work I do (although preparing tax returns can drive you insane…it also quite invigorates me when I figure out how to prepare one completely on my own). It’s the nagging question of “am I going to get up at 6:30am everyday for the rest of my life to come here and do this?” that makes me deflate a little as I sit at my desk and crunch numbers and ponder what kind of cause and effect relationship this is that I make a salary to support myself in order to live my life which requires a salary so I make a salary to support myself in order to live my life which requires a salary…etc, etc, etc. It all boils down to the two questions of “what am I living for?” and “is it worth it?”
Sunday I wake up from my delirious half sleep with the scratchiest throat known to man and an unrelenting cough. I sigh as I deliberate for the first time skipping church since I’ve moved to Philly. I’m sick and sleep deprived and absolutely miserable and look out my window to observe how the gloom of the day matches my mood and sigh. “Have mercy on me, Jesus,” I pray for the hundredth time this week.
I don’t remember too much from the sermon – just two little gold nuggets from Pastor Dwight:
“People think in heaven that the pastors and the missionaries will be on center stage being praised for their great faith and works, stories being told about them as we ordinary people stand in the background and think ‘we made it.’ But, I don’t think that’s how it’s going to be. I think it is the people who in the mundane, day by day things, when things get hard, who kept the faith – they too will be center stage. They too are pleasing to God, one He calls, ‘well done, good and faithful servant’.”
“We live every day to know our Lord, Jesus Christ, more and more.”
And suddenly, after that tidbit of a statement, I feel overwhelming joy.
I crawl into bed at night and wonder how I’m going to get up in the morning. My throat feels like something crawled into it and died, my head is starting to ache and my chest is tight from all my coughing. I feel absolutely miserable but for the first time in weeks, I am eager to sleep and wake the next morning.
I’m not worried about how I’ll get work done despite a pounding headache. I don’t care about the heat of the day that will press upon me as I walk to and from work. I don’t think about all the time I’ll spend at the office instead of at home in bed or out frolicking with my friends. All I can think about is why I’m going to get up in the morning and how unbelievably excited I am to do so.
There is no way I’m going to get through tomorrow without Jesus, and I can’t wait to see how He’s going to get me through it. I can’t wait to see Him grow me. I can’t wait to see Him heal me. I can’t wait to spend more time getting to know Him by being tried and tested in my every day life and depending on His grace. I don’t know Him or love Him enough but I want to, I want to.
Lord, I want to know you. So I will get up joyfully in the morning; I will sing praise to you; I will keep the faith when things get mundane and hard; I will live so I may know you.
“What am I living for?” Jesus Christ.
“Is it worth it?” Yes.