I’m currently sitting in a really nice hotel in Pennsylvania. I’m not even sure what town i’m in. Pennsylvania is really strange in this way. For example, the address shows Reading, but everything else around here says Kutztown or Berks. So maybe i’m existing in three towns at once. I was in Ohio for the last two days.
I have had so many lessons in the last few days that I wanted to take time to write them down so I can remember them. I don’t want to forget the lessons God keeps teaching me. I want to hold fast to these lessons so I can remember them long term. So i’m going to go back a couple of days and just sort of narrate my experience and some of my random thoughts. It may be really choppy, but I need to do this.
The first night (two nights ago) in Ohio I lay on my bed looking through instagram feeling torn. I scrolled through, seeing pictures of the family gathering I missed. Again. On Sunday. The infamous birthday dinners of our family that constantly remind us all of Great Maw Maw… how when she was alive we would gather at her house and eat together, celebrating birthdays on a Sunday afternoon every couple of months. I scrolled through the photos, tears blurring my vision. My brother, My father, My aunts and uncles, cousins, friends…Me alone in a hotel in Ohio and them together celebrating in Louisiana. What on earth am I doing here? My heart cracked. I want to be with them. I want to see them, celebrate lives, and watch my nephews grow. I WANT those things.
Then I scrolled through more pictures and landed on my friend Jen, her long, porcelain looking skin next to beautiful little children the colour of coffee. Toffee. Mahogany. The contrast was beautiful. Gorgeous. Their hands all united in one language. Deaf children with an adult who could speak their language. Deaf children given a home in a place where there would otherwise be no hope. Deaf children being provided education and opportunity where there was none before. Little brown smiling faces and pearl white teeth gazed into the pictures as their hands formed the I Love You sign… Loving without reserve. And Jen serving and giving herself to a ministry that changes lives. My heart ached. What am I doing here? I asked again. I wanted to be THERE, helping little children, giving them life. Showing them Christ… showing them… WHO He is and What He’s done… I wanted to be there.
Obedient. I’m being obedient. That’s why I’m here. And that’s what I told myself up until the next day.
You see, the thing about Ohio interview is I had to take a test first and if I passed the test THEN I go the interview. I wasn’t really told anything about the test other than that it’s about medical terminology and case management and my degree would have prepared me for it and there was no need to worry. “When you pass, you get the interview” they told me confidently.
So I got dressed and went to take the test. I arrived “you have ninety questions and ninety minutes to take the test… there is scrap paper for the math problems”. Math problems? MATH problems?? I haven’t had a real math class since 10th grade. I smiled.
The test took me an hour and fifteen minutes (give or take). The lady came back and collected my test and went away to grade it. She came back red-faced. “I’m sorry but you didn’t pass by one point”.
I looked at her and smiled “thank you”
She looked confused, “you can come take it again in four months”.
I smiled again and she led me out the door. I walked out trying to hold myself together. But seeing the panel that would have interviewed me staring at me from behind a glass windowed room as I evacuated the office made my shame tangible. I reached the parking lot as the first tear fell, making my way to my car, avoiding looking at anyone. In my car I sat there with my head lowered. I can’t believe I failed. I failed. I can’t believe I drove nearly 6 hours to fail a test. The tears continued.
I left Ohio this morning, feeling a lot better after a good nights rest and talks with a couple of friends.
It took me 7 hours to drive to Pa today. Remember I’m on Lent right now. So I drove the whole way feeling completely content with my fruit and nuts. Completely wonderful. Seriously. The first hotel didn’t work out….Did you know that in PA, if you have to pee while driving to find a place to stay you’ll only find farms? Miles and miles of farms. I had to pee so badly. And I was very hungry. After searching for two hours and lots of farmland, I finally found civilization and a cleaner hotel. And on the way I saw a RUBY TUESDAYS.
Ruby Tuesdays. Yes. In PA. YES. MY FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WORLD!
So I ordered the veggie trio with the salad bar. I ordered sweet potato fries in the veggie trio. Before my brain had any idea what I had done, I had ordered them and enhaled them and given in to my Lent goal. I sat there. Feeling more like a failure. I failed the test. I failed at lent.
I’m so sorry, Lord. I’m so sorry. I repeated again and again because I just didn’t know what to say. And then He reminded me of something. I may have driven 6 hours to fail a test and 7 more hours to fail at lent. I may not know what I’m doing here. I may have wasted a bunch of money switching hotels. No matter what… He sees me as acceptable, righteous, without shame or blemish. Not because of anything I’ve done or accomplished. Not because of any good work or because i’m so amazing. He sees me as perfect and righteous because of the Blood of Jesus.
No matter what I do.
No matter how I perform.
He sees Jesus. He sees ME. He loves me. He died for me. HE pursued a relationship with ME! I can’t believe it.
I can’t believe it! It seems too good to be true! It seems absolutely amazing and I mean so amazing that words in English and concepts in ASL can’t even describe what He’s done for me. I wish I could sit each of you down and explain what being perfectly ACCEPTABLE and without SHAME means to me… And it’s all because of Jesus!
So What am I doing here? I’m learning more about Him. I’m seeking Him and He’s seeking me… Even despite my failures. When I wake up tomorrow morning it will be as if I’ve never broken Lent. As if I’ve never failed a test. As if I’m without shame. Fully forgiven. Clothed in Him… His Bride.
… and I can’t tell you how much that means to me.