It's been a day. No, make that a week. Okay, it's been a month, but let's not quibble. So much has happened--all of it unexpected, much of it negative, most of it stressful. Make that highly stressfu--
Oops, I'm quibbling again, huh? Sorry.
So here's the thing that's been gnawing at the edges of my spirit. Why--when I know God is in control, when I know that I know that I KNOW that He is at work for my good--do I freak out when something turns my day upside down? I mean, sure, I'm human as the next person. And I don't expect perfection out of anyone (not even me. Well...not often...). But it eats away at me that my first reaction to upheaval isn't peace or trust, but something more along the lines of:
Not terribly trusting, huh? It's not that I doubt God's hand or presence, it's more that I'm just so tired of getting hit. And it's been coming from the left and right and underneath and behind... My chaos is omnidirectional.
So I'm sitting here, knowing I should be deep in the manuscript that I'm editing and struggling to think straight. (Not very encouraging for my author, but I promise, I'm doing a good job. Really!) I just decided I had to step back and get all this--gobbledygook out of my head. The worries over those I love, the frustration at limitations and brokenness, the anger at how unfair life can be, the weariness of trying to keep so many heaped up plates balanced and in motion... On and on it goes, until I even sound like a major whiner to my own ears.
As I thought pondered it, I realized I'm probably not alone. I'm willing to bet a lot of us feel pushed to the edge and beyond, especially this time of year. And then I thought about the people I'd passed in the course of my day today--the thirtyish guy who cut in front of me in traffic, ball cap pulled low on his head, an earring dangling from either ear, an angry set to his jaw; the old man who needed to use a cane in each hand to walk, his steps slow and deliberate, like a toddling child; the young girl with coal black hair, nail polish, and lipstick who had every inch of her personal property pierced, whose striking blue eyes all but radiated pain; the receptionist at the Eye Clinic who had to deal with two frustrated patients before she got to me; the young woman who listened to my frustration over not being able to see through the much-touted progressive lenses for which I'd just forked over $400...
All those floated through my mind, and I realized something. I'd been so engulfed in my own "stuff" today that I didn't really see any of them. Didn't register that they were anything but scenery in MY day. And inside, I wanted to weep.
I closed my self-directed eyes and did, internally, what everyone in Scripture does when God steps into the picture. Fell on my face in the dust. Apologized for missing so many opportunities to see--really SEE--others. To look into their faces and eyes; to acknowledge they not only exist, but matter. I cried out that I don't want to be this person. This woman so focused on her self that she can't see anyone else.
Funny thing, God never condemned. Never scolded. Never joined my chorus of "I'm so bad and vain and stupid." Rather, I felt Holy arms close about me, drawing me to His strong chest. Eternally gentle hands, so full of love and healing, stroked my hair, soothing my spirit. As I leaned into Him, it all fell away. The frustration. The anger. The weariness. The guilt. Slow but certain, gentle silence cloaked me. A whisper of peace caressed my spirit. And when at last I opened my eyes and looked around, I felt it.
To not let another day go by without seeing. Listening. Seeking His face and hearing His voice in those I encounter. To let God tune me to His presence and His call, whether to pray or speak or simply offer a smile.
So I sit here now, fingers to keyboard, acutely aware that God is.
Present. Powerful. At work. And, most amazing of all, forgiving. And as I glance out my window and see my neighbors playing with their kids, I can't help but smile. Because I'm not just looking.
I see them.