Years ago, when I lived in Maryland, in a house full of fabulously fun teachers, I often walked to the nearby mall and grocery stores whenever I needed anything. It was great exercise and I loved being outside. However, time and time again, I would get lost in the land of shopping- grabbing Costco-sized items and making myself proud with all the steals and deals. It was at the moment when I pushed my cart outside that I realized my only transportation getting me home was my pair of Uggs.
Now, you may be saying to yourself, there’s absolutely NO WAY I did this more than once.
Uhmm. Sorry to lay it to you straight, but I’m just that out of it sometimes.
So, back to my story.
I mustered up the hand strength, and grabbed my 8 bags of groceries and started off through the woods. I sometimes had to stop a time or two, but mostly I decided that if I kept going, ignoring my blue fingers and screaming shoulders, I could make it. I always did make it home. And I prided myself on never getting caught struggling in the streets. Until the one day I got caught.
I had been ignoring Adam’s texts dinging in my pocket – OBVIOUSLY I had no way of reaching my phone. And he knew I was out shopping. Being the smart lad that he is, he had spun by the house, seen my car and then FIGURED I’d try something less than intelligent like walking home with 20 lbs of groceries.
Can you see why we are married?
I’ll never forget the the snicker I heard coming from his car window as he slyly pulled up behind me. I swear he had been trailing me for half a mile and just let me suffer.
But here’s the kicker. As relieved as I was to see him, I didn’t let him help me.
I gave him some excuse about how my fingers would fall off if he tried to un- bag them with his manly ways, and I convinced him that I could make it the 2 blocks home. And he reluctantly agreed. But not without trailing me… with more snickers. And some Country music.
And then we got to the house, and I was so mad at myself with the worst pins and needles in my hands EVER, and I think I remember yelling at Adam for something about never being there for me.
I feel I should give you the time now to give me some kind of virtual slap.
I needed it.
I was so bent on being independent and relying on my own strength that it blinded my judgement. And didn’t allow the help to actually help.
It amazes me sometimes that I could be that dense.
So very, very long ago.
Oh wait. I’m still doing it.
I am still putting 20 lbs of groceries in my hands, not literally any more- THANK HEAVENS I’VE LEARNED ONE THING- but figuratively.
I still think I will be given some kind of magazine worthy award if my house is super clean, or my laundry is all caught up, if I chaperone a field trip, or buy all my kid’s favorite foods for lunch and dinner.
But the reality is, I’m not not being given any earthly award, or bonus points for those things. And the problems begin if I put all my hope, faith and joy IN those things.
Each of them can be taken away at a moments notice.
The house gets trashed in 10 minutes after the kids get home from school.
The laundry quickly doubles and overflows.
I can’t help out a school anymore for one reason or another.
And suddenly, the girls have changed their minds on what flavor mac n cheese they like- so now I have 25 boxes they won’t touch.
The bags are breaking.
I can’t hold them anymore.
The hope, faith and joy are gone.
But it isn’t meant to be that way.
I heard in a Sunday sermon that we are ” hardwired for hope.” I like that saying. We as a people, are certainly hopeful. Especially this time of year. But what are we hoping in? Where is our faith?
The fact that my kids will behave and cherish the spirit of giving and be changed by the Season?
That my house will emulate what I see on Instagram with bloggers that have perfectly flocked trees in every room?
That traditions will stay the same… and that even though my kids are growing up, they will still want to make me happy by build gingerbread houses, decorate cookies and singing Jingle Bells in the back seat on the way to school?
Or that the never ending list of to-do’s comes to a halt and my husband and I can enjoy a quiet evening together by the tree?
The Little Somethings can be great, too.
They can turn into Big Somethings.
Things don’t always have to be what we Hope for and expect.
Only one thing can be truly worthy of our Christmas HOPE.
I’ll leave you with a story I heard a character tell recently in a Hallmark Christmas movie… it is a spin-off of “The Drowning Man” story you may have heard at church.
There once was a man caught in a snowstorm. He hunkered down in his house and prayed that God would save him.
There was a knock at the door, and it was a stranger driving a sleigh. The stranger told him to get in.
But the man replied, “I’m waiting for my God to save me, I have Faith.”
So the stranger left.
The snowstorm continued.
There was another knock at the door.
It was another stranger driving a sleigh. The stranger told the man to get in.
But the man replied again, ” I’m waiting for my God to save me, I have Faith.”
So the stranger left.
As the snowstorm worsened, there was a pounding at the door.
It was a stranger driving a sleigh. The stranger asked the man get in.
But the man replied a third time. ” I am waiting for my God to save me, I have Faith.”
Well folks, the man died in the snowstorm.
And when he reached Heaven, he quickly asked God why he didn’t save him.
God calmly replied, “I sent you three sleighs…what else did you need?’
Did God send Adam to scoop me and my broken fingers up 15 years ago?
Possibly. And probably.
I do wish I could have a do-over for how I reacted. But I can’t.
Does He continue to send “sleighs” each day, without me even noticing?
I’m 100% sure of it.
My only suggestion: when God sends you and me a sleigh, or two… Maybe we might want to push aside our pride, foolishness and imagination on what we think we’re waiting for… and take a step in.
After all, it’s the only sleigh that can truly and HOPE-FULL-y carry it all.
Merry, Merry Christmas to you all.
From my heart to yours.