Ever since I was in grade school I’ve had a recurring dream. The particulars in my dream change somewhat but the basic premise is always same. I’m not where I’m supposed to be and I’m completely and fearfully unprepared.
The dream made it’s debut when I was probably 10 and our bus stop changed locations. No longer was the bus stop visible from my breakfast table, but now the bus stopped on Charles Ave — a distance that seemed a million miles away. I couldn’t dart outside, mid spoonful. No, I had to plan ahead and trust the bus schedule in spite of it’s unpredictability. I was annoyed to have to place my precious morning minutes in the hands of a stupid school bus. In my dream, in a panic, I am running after the bus, completely disheveled and in my pajamas. And the dream was never very far from reality.
Part nostalgic and part surreal, I dreamed the same dream last night, a mere forty years later. Probably because yesterday, I LIVED the dream. I had to literally chase down Sun Van, and just like old times… disheveled and in my jammies. Sun Van is a resource in our city granted to eligible candidates providing door to door public transportation. This… is a huge answer to prayer and potentially a portion of Ian’s expanding independence.
Our home is tricky to find. If you plug in our address, google maps directs you to a 6 ft. tall stuccoed cement wall that faces our front door. But unless you can scale the wall, or throw the package 50 yards, the map directions do you no good. Fed Ex, UPS as well as friends, have all learned the hard way.
Knowing this, I called in advance to alert sun van dispatch. “Ignore what your map tells you, and trust my instructions.” I said firmly. “You must enter our gated community via Coronado.” The woman who answered the phone, indulged me by writing down what I explained, but I could tell the whole time she was rolling her eyes. “Sure maam”, she said. “I’ll write it down because you insist.”
And guess what…the driver completely ignored the added instructions. Suspecting as much, I sat perched watching the cement wall at his expected arrival time. Sure enough, I spotted the van driving slowly past. I sprinted outside waving my arms frantically. I ran through our property and then my neighbors screaming for the driver to stop. He did stop, backed up, and predictably said, “this is where my phone map directed me.”
I patiently re-explained (my turn for some eye rolling), “go around the block and enter the gate at Corondao.” When I met the driver at the gate, he confessed, “on my clipboard it does say to enter the neighborhood via Coronado but I ignored it, trusting my phone directions.” ARGH!
As frustrating as it was, the incident got me to thinking. If I had been the driver, I would have done the same thing. After all, he has been driving for Sun Van for a long time and consistently and successfully depended on his phone for directions. He has had years of experience and practice with this reliable method. Some added addendum on his clipboard seemed completely unnecessary …until he met the cement wall and the frantic flailing woman.
Isn’t that true for all of us. We get into a groove with life. A groove that becomes familiar and reliable. We know best. We’re nice moral people. We’re devoted to our families. We’re neighborly to our neighbors. We even show up at church when it works into our schedule. We’re respected by many and clean up for facebook and the world to see.
And then we meet a cement wall and a flailing woman. Then what?
Our groove is disrupted. We’re agitated, frustrated, and unsettled. With a sense of urgency, we strive to regroup. We try to somehow, someway re-establish our comfortable groove. But, without warning, now our experience and reliable resources are insufficient. Fear overwhelms. We BECOME a frantic, flailing woman.
God in His grace and mercy is always ready and waiting. I’m sure it saddens Him that He’s perceived as an added unnecessary instruction on a clipboard, a safety net we call upon only when we’re in a pickle.
Since I’ve been regrouping for some time now, trying to re-establish what I call a new normal, God has been ever present. But often times, if I’m honest, it seems as if God is not cooperating. It seems as if He has little interest in my comfortable groove.
And yet, I’m realizing that what may seem like God’s indifference or resistance is actually His lovingkindness. He loves me too much to make it easy for me to go back to how I was. He loves me too much to go back to His non prominent place as a notation on the clipboard.
You Can Never Really Go Back
Think about a time when you went back to a familiar place for a visit after having moved away. You anticipate your former life. Seeing your old home, your old friends, your old church. Many years ago, I made such a trip to Huntingdon Valley, PA only a year after we had moved to Illinois. I parked in the familiar church parking lot (where Doug had served for 6 years and both Ian and Becca attended their first years of grade school.) A very kind stranger greeted me in the parking lot and welcomed me to her church. She asked me if I was visiting. Her kind welcome took me by surprise. Does she not know who I am?! But in that moment, I realized…you can never go back to things the way they were.
That truth is just as true for the new widow as it is for the cancer survivor. Just ask other survivors like my handsome ginger, or my friend who is walking through the mire of a broken marriage. Life marches on and makes an indelible mark on us in the process. Those indelible marks add up to become important chapters of our stories.
In fact, the way I see it… I’m nothing more than a cracked pot. And, I believe it’s true for all of us especially as we mature in Christ. We are all cracked pots!
Not unlike the Sun Van driver, I’m driving along in life, following my reliable phone directions and I hit a cement wall. My groove is interrupted. My fragile exterior is now chipped, or cracked or maybe even completely broken.
Treasure in Jars of Clay
2 Corinthians 4:7-10 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
With a sense of urgency, I ask God to patch things up, to fix me and my situation so I can be on my way. I’m eager for epoxy, super glue or maybe even some supernatural duck tape.
Revealed by our circumstances, we see our frailty as flaws. shortcomings, places of vulnerability. He sees them as character lines, His handiwork, an opportunity for the world to see Him through our cracks.
As I’m trying to reconcile God’s perspective with mine, I’ve made a decision of compromise. Instead of praying for God to patch me up and allow me to move on, I’m praying for God to carry me and my brokenness as we groove together.
Dear Heavenly Father… thank you for your patience with me. Thank you for not rolling your eyes as I learn life lessons the hard way, over and over and over.
As I finish writing this blog entry, (days after starting it) I sit facing the same cement wall waiting, watching for SunVan to drive by. I wonder how many drivers SunVan employs and how many pick ups it will take before each driver has been trained, the hard way. But I’m ready. Ready to become the frantic, flailing woman.