oh for the love of empty wrappers

I abandoned several months of low carb living Monday for something

in a brightly colored plastic sleeve.

Small discs of peanut butter and chocolate heaven melted

in my mouth as I chose sugar to be my soother.

But that was the other day, let me backtrack a few weeks.

I decided to take a risk.

I applied for something in the arena of writing knowing

the odds were numerically stacked against me.

I decided to consider it an exercise without

expectations pinned on the outcome.

I pushed click and a fragment of myself flew off into cyberspace.

I uttered this to no one except a few lines in an email to a friend

and in private chats with God.

Then I waited.

The way you wait for the thick envelope to land in your mailbox with

a thud during college application season.

Everyone knows thin does not mean you are in.

(Which is not always the case, but let’s go with it for
the purposes of this post.)

One morning, I glanced over my inbox and there it was.

The. Answer.

It was a lovely and kind email even though it felt like a thank you

wrapped in tissue paper tattooed with the word no.

Not you.

During the waiting period, I had made positive self-talk my ritual.

I prepared myself and would not allow any hopes to escape into the

atmosphere.

Yet a few wafted through a small keyhole in my heart.

I moved on because life does carry on with or without my permission.

I thought the disappointment had been absorbed until a week later,

I innocently visited a website revealing

the ones who had been chosen.

Somehow now it made a difference, it felt different seeing faces.

Even when I allowed my calculator

(yes, I am crazy like this)

to do the math telling

me that a mere .0189473684% of the pool of applicants were selected,

it didn’t seem to matter.

It ruined my day.

Or should I say, I allowed it to ruin my day.

I hoped consuming the contents of a wrapper would

fill the lack I felt in my heart.

The peanut butter cup was my gateway drug for

the rest of the day.

Carl didn’t even say a word (bless him!) when he saw

me eating a brownie or two during the NCAA

basketball championship game.

I wish I could blame my binge on

my march madness bracket debacle,

but I can’t.

Empty wrappers, sacks, boxes or whatever

container are not a recipe for contentment.

In the moment, a perfect and harmless antidote but

in the aftermath, the cause for the consumption

sits smugly watching you take out the trash.

Tuesday was another day.

The rhythm of the morning was a fresh gift of mercy.

Later, I returned from a walk and while showering it occurred

to me that I had prayed for God’s will regarding this opportunity.

I had prayed the right people would be selected.

Isn’t that what happened?

Isn’t that answered prayer?

Is it still answered prayer when I am not fond of the outcome?

What does it mean when the right person doesn’t mean me?

In that moment as water crashed upon my head,

I felt drowned in the reality that perhaps my

praying is much more like prodding.

If I am honest, this awareness hurt more than

not being chosen.

Every solitary day God chooses chocolate stained me.

I commence a pity party whenever my will is overridden.

It’s me who needs to be prodded back into alignment.

It may seem inconceivable and sound insincere based on the

above lament, but when I received my rejection email,

I prayed for those selected.

I prayed for how God was planning to use them to minister to others.

I said a carbon copy prayer for myself.

On Tuesday I prayed again.

I prayed the same prayer.

A prayer for the selected.

A prayer for me who has been eternally chosen

by the heart and will of the Father.

 

No prodding needed.

 

 

doggone fear

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Three things you need to know:

  1. We have a dog who sheds constantly.
  2. We vacuum endlessly.
  3. Our dog is afraid of the vacuum cleaner.

Most days I will wait to vacuum until our dog Hazel is outdoors.

Otherwise, as soon as she hears the door to the hall closet open, she

assumes her position under the dining room table.

There are other places she could go.

Although stairs are a bit of a challenge for her these days,

she does have the option to move farther away from the object of her

fear but she does not.

We have attempted to lead her by the collar to safer rooms but

she will not budge.

The other day, a friend stopped by and I didn’t hear the door bell or

the knocking because I was (can you guess?) vacuuming.

Hazel barked from her huddled up position under the table and this

was the only reason I happened to look through the arched

glass of our front door.

Once I opened the door and welcomed our visitor inside,

I apologized for not hearing him sooner.

I pointed to Hazel, our indoor doorbell

and then laughed as I realized she was

not going to leave her spot to greet him.

I explained Hazel’s fear of the vacuum and was

positive despite her tail was wagging, she wouldn’t come

to inspect him as the vacuum was still in plain sight.

We laughed and to my surprise, Hazel slowly cowered

her way the length of the table, keeping her eyes on that

tall black thing which makes all that noise.

Suddenly, the tablecloth made a tent over her head

and she took her eyes off the vacuum and looked up at

our friend.

She trotted over and gave her customary licks, sniffs

and best wagging performance.

It is hard to take our eyes off of fear isn’t it?

It is always lurking behind a closed-door waiting

to pounce upon its intended victims.

Often we rehearse our fears or at least we have

a great deal of practice bowing down to them.

Hazel hasn’t known another way to conquer her

fears other than to hide under the nearest solid

structure.

My fears have become so familiar, I have been lulled into

believing I will always exhibit

the same response whenever

released from the confines of the dark closeted

places of my mind.

In my estimation the fears expand

exponentially  with each encounter.

How does one conquer fear?

One way is making the decision that

being free is better than being a captive.

This sounds quite simplistic, I know.

Hazel decided to risk being in the presence of

fear for the sake of doing what she loves to

do, namely greeting.

It has taken Hazel nearly 13 years to stare

down her fear.

Several years ago, I was asked to speak about being

a mom.

Public speaking has never been my sweet spot.

A quick answer was required and I fretted.

I was walking to our van at the time and I “heard”

God ask me,

“What are you so afraid of?”

I answered,

“I just hate getting so nervous.”

God asked me.

“Can you risk feeling nervous for 5 minutes for me?”

When it was put this way,

I was undone.

I realized that in most cases, not all for sure,

fear can last for such a short time,

when we face it and then remove our eyes

from fear’s grip, we can walk in freedom.

I did speak and I did get nervous.

Surprisingly I also had fun.

Fear and faith stride along one another.

We don’t have to let fear drag us by

the collar or make us assume a crouched position

under the closest table.

We can shift our gaze and

allow God to make a tent over

our heads.

He longs to greet us in the midst

of our fears.

I know you have heard or read this before but in

case you haven’t or you need to be reminded,

“Do not fear or be afraid” is quoted in the Bible

366 times.

Fear is a real thing and God is fully aware.

There is enough of God to get you through

fear, even during leap years 🙂

Take the risk to trust him in the midst of fear.