Sunday, January 25, 2009

Finding Renewal

I began today finding renewal in a way hitherto unexplored by me. As I entered my church, I headed to the ladies restroom as I often do. In this way, I am able to discover any lipstick on my teeth or remnants of breakfast that may be residing on my chin prior to having members of my congregation discover them. Today was no different as I marched in the room and headed straight for the mirror, to realize that part of my head looked like a science experiment in static electricity.

Having been privy to the inside of the men's restroom after searching for a small child, I am aware that men do not have luxuries that we ladies do, such as sweetly scented soaps, soothing hand lotions, and the ever important can of hair spray. Often appreciating these nice gestures, today I decided to take advantage of one item in particular, the hair spray. I wanted to go back from the science experiment look to my normally fluffed out hair. As I held the bottle to my head and sprayed, I realized something seemed odd. Rather than a shot of sticky substance designed to blast my hair back into conformity, I was hit with a fine, soft sweetly smelling mist that brought to mind a glade of trees with flowers all around them.

That sweet mist quickly brought me back to reality as I discovered that I had now sprayed my head with "Glade Renewal" Bathroom spray! Wow... talk about getting renewed and refreshed all in one shot! I must talk to our church trustees about placing these spray bottles in a better location than on the sink next to all the other supplies in front of the mirror. We don't want any other unsuspecting ladies plastering themselves and being renewed with "Glade".

Of course, I suppose one might ask, would anyone else be as unobservant as I? Has anyone else sprayed this item in the wrong direction? Actually, I seem to often have issues with being distracted and times where I'm not thinking clearly. There are times when I am filled with doubts about my abilities, and then there are the usual worries about the kids, worry about having money to meet all the doctor bills and other necessary expenses, worry about the opinion of this or that old so & so and what he has to say about my faith or my parenting skills, and the list continues.... Sometimes when you are trying to juggle all these things, it feels like something is going to get dropped or blow up in your face at some point. Actually, for me, I experienced both this week.

I decided to finally take my Christmas tree down. It is a big, beautiful artificial tree. However, taking it apart and then lugging it down to the first floor of my building, across the parking lot, and then heaving it up into it's place at the back of the garage, is quite a process. I had a little bit of the "woe is me" thing going on, especially after my younger daughter said "too bad we don't have a man to take it down". I told her that I can do anything a man could do, after all, my 98 year old grandma once called me a "real man" when she saw me carrying some heavy boxes. Not only did her comment cause me some time in therapy... no wait... wrong the positive side of that jeering, oh I meant cheering, comment was that my grandma was actually impressed with my strength in taking care of what I saw needed to be done.

After I got the tree settled precariously into it's spot in the back of the garage, (where it only fell back onto my head one time), I realized that I had another problem. The ten 2 liter bottles of pop that I was keeping in the garage had all frozen solid. Three had exploded everywhere, while the other 7 were dangerously close to shooting off as well. I decided to take action quickly. Being the strong and strange "real man" that I am, I gathered up all 7 bottles and took off for the building. Halfway through the parking lot, I lost my grip (on the bottles, the mind was already long gone!), and they rolled every which way as I chased them. Two more blew, so I carried the remaing five inside to thaw out.

Good grief, I'm either the Queen of Comedy or suffering from bad kharma. And somedays, it feels like a combination of both. Somedays I feel stuck, paraylzed by circumstances, and wonder who in the world would want to be around some wacky lady who blows up pop bottles and uses air freshner as a beauty accessory! Who indeed? Even more, what does that goofy dingbat chasing down fast rolling pop bottles as they head under parked cars and behind trees.... what does she have to offer to the people of God? Do they even want Ms. AirFreshner Head teaching them?

When those kind of thoughts are rolling around in my head as fast as those pop bottles rolled down the pavement, it is exactly the time to stop and actually find renewal and refreshment. God's House is a great place to start. Being in a Sunday School Class, a Small Group, a Bible Study, or in worship service are exactly where to go when renewal is needed. These places lift you up when you are down, connect you with fellow believers, which in turn, plugs you in more deeply into God's love and grace.

I sat in on a Sunday School Class today that was talking about choices we have in the way we view life. The Scripture was dealing with Moses leading the Israelites out of Eygpt, with all of their fears, doubts, and worries. We found them stopped in front of the Red Sea. God had been leading them, and we see Moses facing forward, anticipating what God will do for them next. We see all the Israelites, with panic in their hearts as they watch the approaching army which Eygpt has sent after them. The Israelities looking back see death and destruction. Moses looking forward sees miracles, hope, and life. God does part the Red Sea, and the Israelites are led through, by moving forward they find renewal in their lives.

I shared with the class a brief story from the book "God Psychiatry" by Charles Allen. In it, he gives an illustration of two men who had both gone to New York City, now meeting together and sharing the stories of their experience. The first man said it was a horrible experience, with wickedness and depravity on every street. He said that everywhere you turned, you would see hookers and drug dealers, and that the city itself was dirty and depressed. He could not imagine ever wanting to return. The second fellow had something entirely different to report. He could not get over all the magnificent museums with great works of art, the many fine restaurants, fabulous stores, and other wonderful sights, like the Statue of Liberty. He thought he would need a lengthy visit in order to hit all the places he wanted to see.

Two different men, two vastly different viewpoints. How do we get to that point? Which guy are we, the one who saw the trash, and the guy who saw all the treasure, all the potential? I won't be a "pollyanna" and act as if there are no problems or griefs to bear in the this world, however I would like to adopt the model of the second man who saw all the good there was to see. You can still acknowledge the bad in the world without diminishing your character when you embrace the positives.

God, we ask for your precious humor to carry us through the crazy days of life that involve mistakes and spills and broken places. We ask that You would renew our spirits and minds, so that using your eyes, we might see through anothers' pain and lift their arms to steady them as they continue to walk. Praise God, that although static may make our hair feel stuck, or our feet to feel immobilized, that you help us to lift our feet and move once more.

Thank you for your many blessings Lord. It is well with my soul.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great story, insightful analogy, and beautiful prayer! Thanks for sharing. PB