I’m a mess.
I’m never sure how much to share in these columns. When writing fiction I can clothe my characters in my fears and insecurities and doubts without a second thought, since my readers will never know where I end and my imagination begins.
But when it comes to “A Moment’s Notice,” I can’t hide.
I always strive to put into words what God has placed in my heart. But here I must meet a second criterion: honesty. This column must be authentic and true or it’s worthless. A few pretty thoughts glowing on your screen.
Which brings me to my quandary.
This isn’t one of those cryptic Facebook posts I detest, the one-liners designed to elicit sympathetic responses: “Why are people so cruel?” “This has been the worst day ever!” “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!” (Alright, I stole that last one from Gone with the Wind.)
The thing is, the older I get the better my vision becomes. And I’m not referring to my nearsightedness.
In my teens and early twenties I was omniscient. My parents would have agreed...that I thought I was omniscient. I was one sharp cookie and I had the SAT scores to prove it. I tried on humility a few times, but it was rough and scratchy and I didn’t like it.
The arrival of children and our nomadic military lifestyle took me down a notch or two, but I still had life figured out. Kind of. But not.
Losing Daddy when I was 30, then Mama eight years later, shook me. With each loss I couldn’t reason my way out of my grief. The same with my worries about Mr. Pettit’s safety and our sons’ well-being. I had to lean into the faith I’d had since childhood and God, as always, was gracious unto me.
But, like the Israelites in the desert, I was prone to forgetfulness. Too often I’d lean on my own understanding.
I still do.
I continue to struggle with the need to know things, to wrap everything up with a tidy bow in my brain. Why does God heal some people and not others? What will Heaven be like? How does prayer work?
As W, my dear friend and former pastor, once told me, “You have to file some questions under the heading, ‘Awaiting further light.’”
I’m currently in a season of humility. For years God’s been chipping away at my gnarly layers like a woodcarver, working to reveal the person He wants me to be. And He’s not done yet.
I reckon He could have fixed me right up with one divine “Abracadabra!” but He didn’t. Maybe that’s due to my stubbornness. Or maybe God decided the process itself is worthwhile.
Anyway, a number of humbling moments have come my way in recent months. At the risk of being mysterious, I’ll share only one.
Ever heard of “gymtimidation”?
A few weeks ago I decided to go along with Mr. Pettit to his gym. We’ve accumulated several pieces of exercise equipment over the years and we’ve actually used it. Really.
But Mr. Pettit wanted to try something new, so for his birthday I gave him a gym membership. He’s really enjoyed it so I join him from time to time.
It’s a nice place. None of the patrons are hopped up on steroids, dropping barbells laden with hundreds of pounds as they shout something like “Yeah!” mixed with the growl of a grizzly.
In spite of exercising and watching what I eat (for the most part), I’ve struggled a bit with the effects of age. I thought I was doing okay until my first trip to...let’s call it Fitness Land.
Mr. Pettit says there are plenty of “normal” people there. I don’t see them. Okay, I do, but they aren’t the ones who puncture my pride.
The other day I saw a lady who appeared to be in my age group. Mama would say, “She’s so thin she has to walk twice to make a shadow.” I’m guessing this woman detours around Five Guys to minimize the risk of encountering grease fumes.
I tried not to watch her, but it was hard to avoid doing so, since she was exercising directly across from the machines I was using. At one point—I am not making this up—she was standing on a balance trainer with a resistance band around her legs doing squats with a weight plate in her hands.
I can’t compete with that.
I keep going back. I don’t know if I’m any stronger than I was a month ago, but I am more humble. I’m beginning to wonder if these little trips will ever start feeling like something other than a fitting for a hair shirt.
See? I’m a mess.
Slowly, ever so slowly, I’m learning to accept that there is much I don’t understand, even about myself. I have to face that my ignorance may be such that I don’t know what I don’t know.
But, thank God, I am certain of this:
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)
And I’ll bask in the glow of that long-awaited light.
A blessed Easter to you all.
Christ is risen!
He is risen, indeed!