Saturday, November 3, 2012

Impromptu Prayer Closet

My new roommate should be moving in, in about a week or so.  While that’s a cause for much celebration on the whole financial side of life, it’s been a big source of stress to me for the past couple of weeks.  Instead of being wise and just staying in the room I’d been living in, I decided I had too much space (and too much junk to fill that space), and I moved into the smaller bedroom.  Of course, I did this a few months ago, which meant the larger bedroom in my apartment (which was never really properly cleaned anyway) became a large storage area.  So for the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying to clean the disastrous mess.  And since I had no room to put things, my current bedroom (the whole rest of the apartment, really) has become a veritable maze of boxes, bags, and general chaotic MESS.
I finally inched my way through most of the mess in my old room, the large room.  I was dreading the final step: the CLOSET.  This closet is what most people would consider small, but dude, when I moved into this apartment after having to live in the Seminary dorms (I’m convinced those dorms are intended for single ladies who are going into missions in foreign lands—they prepare you for ANYTHING) for a year and a half (not to mention the college dorms I’d lived in earlier), that closet might as well have been a portal to Narnia.  It’s only a walk-in closet in a technical sense, but it’s the biggest closet I’d ever really had.  And in the six years that I had access to that closet, I trashed it.  This is what I do when I have too much space (and too much junk to fill that space).  I trash it.  Hence my desire for smaller space and less stuff.

 Well, I finally made my way to the closet.  I basically took a trash bag (or seven) and tossed most of the memorabilia I’d been saving for God only knows what reason.  I’m not sure why I thought I was going to treasure that ticket stub to Harry Potter 4 forever and ever, but now that thing is in the dumpster where it belongs—along with a lot of other junk I have no idea why I was keeping.

I got to the bottom of the mess and finally only had a few stray items lingering on the floor.  I saw a journal and figured it was either full of emo drivel from college, or it was one with clean pages I had not yet tainted with my current emo drivel.

 But when I opened it, I had to laugh—not in that “oh my gosh look how emo my drivel was” sort of way, but in a pleasant sort of way.  It was a “journal” I’d written before and during my two-week mission trip to Thailand back in the summer of 2007.  I know I’ve grown a LOT since then (not physically—I’ve actually shrunk physically.  My pants from back then would almost fit two of the current me), but it’s interesting how the things I was learning then are things that encourage me now.

 I’ve been so stressed out this week.  It’s not just been the CHAOS of trying to find room for things that I deem more important than old movie ticket stubs.  It’s been everything.  I’ve been cranky at work—at ALL my jobs.  I told one of my co-workers, “I JUST WANT A REAL JOB!” And the way I said it reeked of hopelessness…and just general whininess.

 I don’t have health insurance.  I should be thankful I’m healthy (the phlebotomists from my friendly neighborhood American Red Cross keep taking my blood, so apparently there aren’t any red flags popping up in their system—so I take that to mean I’m not dying of anything…besides life, which eventually kills us all—and in a blog full of unnecessary and rambling parenthetical statements, this is probably the most unnecessary and rambling of them all).  I don’t have a nine-to-five job with predictable hours.  I should be thankful I’m able to have and keep multiple jobs that I like—in an economy where a lot of people are out of work altogether.  I don’t have a rich husband.  I should be thankful I’m able to make a peanut butter sandwich for dinner and not have to worry about feeding my rich husband his fancy-schmancy rich people food.  Okay, so if I had a rich husband, I’d hire a cook to make us fancy-schmancy rich people food, but I digress.

 The thing is, while reading that old journal, I came across some really encouraging, really true stuff.  I reminded myself 1) of God’s faithfulness,  2) that I don’t have anything to prove to anyone,  3) that it doesn’t matter if I fail; God will not fail.

 And as I was reading it, a playlist was playing on my borrowed, obsolete laptop (which, incidentally, I’m grateful to have at my disposal).  I had forgotten it was on, since I was so engrossed in the things I’d written in that journal.  But the words of one particular song seemed to get louder, demanding my attention:

 And if you are wondering if I’m around,
I have never left your side. 
You are never by yourself. 
No you are not alone tonight. 
So, now don’t you let your heart be troubled. 
The peace I bring to you is not of this world. 
I set your mind at ease. 
I quiet down your soul. 
I give you peace. 
Don’t let your heart be troubled.
(from “Don’t Let Your Heart Be Troubled” by Mitch McVicker)

 I’ve been so overwhelmed by fears of the future.  And by that I mean both big and small things.  Like, I’m afraid of dealing with simple things like getting rid of the excessive furniture in my apartment (the new roommate has nicer stuff).  I don’t even have a working camera so I can put pictures up on Craigslist.  But I’ve arranged to borrow a camera.  If need be, I can suck it up and get a storage unit for a while until I figure things out.  Basically—I need to chill out about the small things and remember my new mantra: IT IS WHAT IT IS.

 For the bigger things, well, hmm.  The former me preached a small sermon to the current me through the pages of that old journal.  I was talking about all the talents God’s given me and all the things people have tried to get me to pursue with those talents.  And I wrote something about how all of my talents can be used to entertain and teach children, and how awesome of an opportunity it is to get to help shape their little hearts and minds.  And I wrote about how my having a real job would just be a crime, because after all, I’m a free (indeed) spirit.

 I have no idea what the future will bring.  This year has brought so much change, and it’s going to bring more.  And you know what, next year will bring a lot of change, too, because change happens constantly.  I don’t like change.  I like to hold on to things like ticket stubs or whatever because I don’t like moving forward.  But sometimes you just have to get in that closet and dig through the junk of the past—and just accept that life isn’t what it used to be.  It is what it is.  And sometimes the things that really matter from the past will sneak up on you when you least expect it and remind you of the things that are important.

 My little (sort-of) walk-in closet (AKA currently inactive Narnia portal) became something I didn’t expect tonight.  In the midst of the chaos I was dreading, I found some unexpected peace.  And my closet became a prayer closet as I allowed the presence of God to calm me, to remind me that I’m His.