The Stumbling and The Humbling
A few months ago, I had a huge unglued moment.
Our washer of twelve years needed replacing and so I went to Home Depot and picked out a new and improved one. It was a high efficiency, top loader with a see-through top. It was supposed to be one of the best and I wanted to buy one that would last as long as our old one did. I was told two things before I left the store. First, we would have to wait a week before it would be delivered. I was not happy about this because I do laundry almost every day. But it was a minor inconvenience in light of not having one at all, so I thought I’d make due.
Second, I was told very clearly that if upon delivery we wanted to return the washer because it didn’t work properly, etc., we would have only 48 hours to do so or we would be responsible for repairs. This made my ears perk up because it was an expensive purchase and I certainly didn’t want us to get stuck paying for a new machine that didn’t work.
Without me knowing it, these two things said to me would be the catalyst for my unglued moment to come. I can’t help but think now in hindsight how most unglued moments start like this. Bits of information swirling around in our minds stirring up doubts. Stirring up fear. Rousing up anxiety and making us teeter totter on the irrational ledge. It’s like how my mind can be filled with the assurance of Jesus and hope and all things working for my good, until a huge thunderstorm is presumed to land on the exact day I’ve scheduled a child’s outdoor birthday party.
Or both of our vehicles experience one breakdown after the other and we go from enjoying the life of no car payments to realizing we’re going to have two in the very near future. But that’s how storms and unglued moments start don’t they? Everything is clear skies and sunny…until it’s not. A darkness starts off in the far distance and the moment we become aware of it, panic ensues. We take our eyes off our hope and security, the one found in Jesus, and we become fixated on the darkness looming ever closer. Maybe it’s the subtle but hurtful words of a friend or stranger. Maybe it’s someone’s sharp tone or some kind of misunderstanding. Whatever it is or however it starts, what seems minor or small can quickly become the catalyst that turns our sunny day into a thunderstorm.
Throughout the week as the laundry piled up, so did my anxiety. I like to stay on top of things and all I could think about was the weeks’ worth of laundry I was going to have to do. I made a few trips to my sisters to do laundry, but for the most part the baskets overflowed. The anticipation of my new washer arriving soon had me excited. Call me forty, because I am, but these are things I get excited about now. The day the washer arrived I had cleared my schedule to catch up on all my laundry. After all, I had a full weekend coming up.
Each day was packed with every kind of appointment, party, and activity you could imagine. This would be my only day to get caught up for at least another four days. The busyness that waited for me on the other side of the delivery day was truly the cherry on top of what would become my unglued moment.
That’s the way it is, isn’t it? Tight schedules and busy days only add momentum to our already harried emotions. When things are going great, our packed schedules are a joy for the most part. After all, they’re the things we said yes to. The things we are looking forward to. But the moment something goes wrong or a wrench is thrown in the mix, our busyness can throw us for a major loop. All of sudden, we can’t catch our breath as we wrack our brains trying to figure out how we’re going to get it all done. Busyness serves as the perfect compliment to an unglued moment. Think about it. Most of the times you become unglued, there’s probably an element of time involved. Needing to hurry up or get something done. Not having the time to wait for something or someone.
And I’m not a stranger to unglued moments, so I should know better. You’d think I’d be better at seeing the warning signs. But I still get caught off guard. I think that’s why Jesus talks so much about resting in him. Taking on his yoke that is easy. He knows how easy it is for us to get off kilter. He knows that if you throw too many things at us all at once, we get easily turned around and take our eyes off his peace. Like the waters rising in a flood, so are our emotions once we start watching the storm clouds swirling around us. It’s just so easy for us to forget about the sun that’s just right on the other side. The one that never leaves us, even when we can’t see it.
The arrival and installing of the washer went perfectly. The delivery guys were so nice and I could hardly wait for them to leave so I could begin. The first item in was my son’s large camo comforter. It had been an eyesore hanging out in the corner of the room all week and I couldn’t wait to get it washed and put away. Without reading the manual, I quickly threw it in and got the rest of the laundry sorted and ready as it washed. I waited in the living room for it to finish…but it was taking a long time. I decided to go check on it and because of the clear top I could. Where was all the water? Why was it rinsing and draining and spinning and repeating?! Why was it taking so long?! Hadn’t it already been thirty minutes? Why was it rinsing and draining and spinning again?! I questioned its process as I sat observing it through the clear top. I fumed as my irritation grew. I decided that I would hit the pause button the next time it drained and spun to keep it from rinsing again. But when I opened the lid, it was still soaking wet. What? This new machine couldn’t even spin my comforter dry? So, I just decided to start again. But the same things happened again.
At this moment, I had decided that this machine was obviously broken. Had I read the manual yet? No. That would have been a rational thing to do, but I was beyond rational at this moment. The damn had broken and the emotional waters that had been building set forth to carve the new Grand Canyon! I mean, didn’t the guy at Home Depot say that I only had 48 hours to get a new one if this one was broken? Hadn’t I waited all week to do laundry and now I’m stuck with this broken machine?!! Now, I’m not going to have the time to do it and it needs to get done TODAY! All I wanted was to throw in my clothes and do laundry like I’ve always done it. Isn’t this supposed to be one of the best machines? And no, I don’t want to have to read the manual and figure out which setting the comforter would have best been set on. If this machine can’t handle someone throwing a simple comforter into it and washing it without being on the proper setting, then it’s stupid and I want a different one. That’s just a short list of the things I said to the man on the phone in the sales department at Home Depot.
Phone calls were made. To my husband to inform him of our dyer situation and to Maytag to inform them of how horrible their machine was. Can they send someone out to look at it? No. I want a new one. Could it be that it’s an energy saver, high-efficiency machine and I just didn’t understand its process? No. It’s stupid and I want a new one. Could it be operator error? Um, no. Didn’t you just hear me? It’s stupid and I want a new one.
I’m not proud, guys. Not at all. It was not one of my finer moments. I imploded over this machine.
I don’t think I could paint you a better picture of what so many of my unglued moments have looked like, especially with God, than this one right here. I’m waiting. I’m trusting. I’m believing. And then I’m not. Something doesn’t look right. Something goes wrong or at least doesn’t go the way I had thought it would go. It’s taking too long. The order of things doesn’t match up to how I would think they would play out. And so, I become unglued. I let worry, fear, and the irrational take me down. I stop trusting. I stop waiting. I stop believing. I take things into my own hands. I don’t have to tell you how ugly things get from there.
Oh, but God. He always comes through. He’s always faithful when I’m not. He’s always worth trusting when I’m not. He’s always worth the wait. It’s taking me more than my fair share of unglued moments to learn that. But I have. And so, I spend a lot more of my time looking for him in the storm rather than the storm clouds. I don’t get knocked down as easily by life’s storms because I remember that he’s the one that never leaves and always shines through for me. But, still. I have my moments.
Later that night, my husband came home to our soppy, wet comforter still hanging out in the washer. I couldn’t wait to show him how stupid our machine was. But he grabbed the manual. He restarted the load. He watched. He waited. He observed and understood. He patiently explained how it was sensing the load and had a more efficient process than the one we had before. It became very clear as the comforter spun dry that it wasn’t the washer that was stupid, but me!
We had a good laugh about it and luckily for me I have a very gracious husband. After spinning around all day in a tizzy, everything became quite clear. The washer was not broken. I just didn’t understand how to use it. I didn’t understand it’s process. It was high efficiency and I was not. In hindsight I was able to see how my thoughts and concerns about the washer to begin with and my time crunch and anxiety about getting all the laundry done had created a perfect storm for an epic unglued moment. I felt so foolish and humbled when I thought about how many times I’ve done the same thing with God.
He has a more efficient process than we do and his ways are not our own. It’s no wonder he doesn’t often give us the inside view of things like the clear top of my washer did. We can’t handle it! It’s no wonder we often feel left in the dark when God is at work. But I think it’s for our own good. God knows that if we could see, we would question. We would try to control the process. He knows that the best thing for us is not to know what’s going on, but to trust that he does. Trust him with the process. Trust him with the outcome. There’s a lot of inner workings going on that we don’t understand and that we don’t need to. As for everything else, it’s probably already in his manual. It’s taken me a while, but I’ve often found you can’t go wrong with starting there.