I don't know about you, but in my spiritual journey, much of the sin God convicts me of comes as no surprise. They are areas of weakness I'm all too well aware of! But every so often God catches me off-guard. It's almost like He says "hey, I know you don't see it, but this needs changing in your life. Let me shine my ginormous spotlight in this dark corner of your heart and show you just what nastiness has been collecting over here." And most often my mess resembles something a lot yuckier than a cute little dust bunny. This week, God flipped the switch on those stadium lights again. While I'm disgusted by what came to the surface, seeing God's hand in my life never fails to excite and awe.
It started quite innocently ... #2 announced that the Little Tike's workshop was babyish and had to go. A desk was needed as a replacement. I listed it on Craigslist and started looking for a desk. Usually these searches take days if not longer, so I was surprised to find a listing for an old school desk on my first search. You know the kind ... wood laminate top, metal legs and storage on the underside. Not exactly my idea of beauty, but the price tag caught my attention -- $10. $10 of sturdiness that was advertised as having served 6 kids already with lots of life left in it. But now I had a dilemma. The price was very compelling and made the awful mauve and turquoise-colored metal tolerable since I knew I could spray paint it. But I just couldn't get past the clutter that was pictured on the desk. See, when I shop Craigs List, I am incredibly picky. I won't drive a great distance or shop at apartment complexes, and I scrutinize the picture to detect what kind of home the item is coming from ... the ad must have a photo and proper capitalization and grammar. If the photo shows clutter, dated carpet, shabby yard, etc I move on.
As I inspected the desk photo a number of things stood out to me, most notably the crumpled kleenex atop the desk. Why they couldn't have thrown it away pre-photo shoot, I have no idea. Other piles were stacked haphazardly around the desk which sat on some nasty mottled brown carpet that looked several decades old.
I moved on, scanning the other items CL offered. Nothing compared in price or location. All afternoon I debated. Finally, I called the owner and got her voicemail. Relieved, I decided that was my answer. Until she called back! We set a meeting time, but I still waffled and even sent the pic to my dear MIL to get her opinion. Her response: "you can find things in the oddest places. Treasures can be where you least expect them." Ok, then.
When I called the desk-lady later for directions, I found out she lived in an apartment ... and was a single mom of 4! Immediately I started wondering what God had in mind so as I got my kids ready to head out the door, I prayed that God would show me how to minister to her.
Plugged her address into my GPS and was quite shocked by where it took me. I never, ever knew that such a place existed so close to my home. Tucked away amongst normal tidy, upper middle-class neighborhoods were apartment complexes that were beyond bedraggled. I parked behind the desk-lady's minivan which wore a dozen bumper stickers proclaiming "Coexist" and similar comments. I tried to read them all before she came out of the house so I could assess just what I was getting myself into. Couldn't take them all in, but I knew we were on opposite sides on a number of social and political issues.
I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't who I met. The lady who came out was not someone who I naturally would seek out to strike up a friendship. She had multiple ear piercings, a nose ring, and hippie hair (which I will admit was quite cute!). But I liked her!
We chatted for a long time and I left struck by the fact that perhaps the treasure God had put on the heart of my MIL wasn't a desk at all. Maybe, just maybe, the treasure was a lost young woman doing her best to raise 4 kids on her own and do it well. A woman who has had a tough life, who is obviously searching for something. A woman God made and loves just as much as He loves me.
Several years ago, God gave me a heart for women. An awareness that we are all daughters of the King with many of the same hopes and fears, longings and needs. That while we put on a good front and show, a tender heart beats deep within. Somewhere, I lost sight of that truth. I got caught up in my comfy little world where everyone looks, thinks, and acts much like me. I love my bubble. Apparently it needed popping.
The desk-lady has been on my mind much these past few days as I dwell on all the lessons in that experience. God added an exclamation point yesterday when I opened an email from CitizenLink featuring an article about Sean and Leigh Ann Tuohy (The Blind Side):
"Your book emphasizes what your family has dubbed 'The Popcorn Theory.' Can you explain that for our readers?"
[Leigh Anne Tuohy]: "The Popcorn Theory is about noticing others. It starts with recognizing a fellow soul as kindred, even if he doesn't belong to your gated community. It's about acknowledging that person's potential and value. It's about seeing him, instead of looking past him."
I keep reading this post over and over trying to come up w/ a witty and succinct ending. I'm blank. May God do His purposes with my lesson and if it His will, pop a few bubbles out there that we may see beyond our comfort zones.