'I am turning 70!' You squeal in delight, with a clap of the hand. My mind immediately calculates my meager 35 and that it is exactly half of that. Naturally I comment. It's what I do, being the eternal 'baby' but what was most interesting was your response to me for it was one of patience. You patted my arm like: 'that's ok, you'll get to 70 eventually.' For 70! to you is not a bad thing but a thing of delight.
Why wouldn't it be? After all you very nearly died. There's a giant purple smudge on the wall of the highway to prove it. Well, it's black now, but for a while it was purple. The color changed over time. Like a bruise.
Thirty and five years seem like a blink of an eye and I am quite certain I can fill the ocean with things I don't know. That I am hard on myself, and I know it, still doesn't make me age any faster. Why can I not be content to be my age, young as it is? Is it a youngest child thing? Always sprinting after older siblings with tiny legs, desperately trying to catch up time in some magical way? I just don't know.
I see my five-year-old son do it. Frustrated he can't do the same things his almost-eight-year-old sister can. She patiently tells him that she will reach the thing he can't, but rather than let her he pulls over the step ladder. I want to hold him, tell him he's perfect, and to let her help him. Is there some way to help him get over feeling too-young-for-this-itis now?
Because I have a severe case of too-young-for-this-itis. At work. At home. Even at play.
These last few weeks I have been making door art cards like an obsessed person. Before me sits a tiny piece of paper that with some scissors and glue I can turn into a little gift of art. So I did. Then again. In three days I had over a hundred. Before you pick up the telephone to have me committed let me assure you I have quit cold turkey. Well, mostly. I'm in the process of laminating them now and it is oddly satisfying to smooth the plastic. Like picking pebbles out of tennis shoes.
I had resisted getting the book 'Jesus Calling.' My dear 70! friend fixed her sharp, racoon-like eyes on me and bluntly asked if I had gotten it yet. Reminding me she told me to get it six months ago. I hung my head in shame. 'No ma'am, not yet.' I go to a wake and a friend randomly brings the book up. I walk into my boss's office and there it is on his desk. Another friend slaps me on the thigh reminding me that our mutual friend told me to get it and insisting that I do. I decided to do what I always do- blame God and make it his problem. As in: fine, if you want me to have that book so bad then you buy it! But then I made the mistake of mentioning this to my beloved husband and he ordered one on Amazon before I finished that nasty sentence.
I blaze through several days, and have almost caught up already. January 12th's I get to last night, around eleven pm while I shove fast food down my mouth because I have a feeling it's going to be a busy night. I have a bad feeling. I don't always like being a person who has premonitions. "I will not show you what is on the road ahead, but I will thoroughly equip you for the journey." These words sink down deep. Probably to the place where I first stood on tippy toes insisting I grab something myself and refusing to let my big sister help. Or even deeper still then I can comprehend.
I am not half of you. Not even close. An eighth maybe. Heaven only knows what the good Lord will get through to me in the next 35 years, for the few lessons he has painstakingly finished took YEARS each. Bless my heart. And his.
Trusting him through it all- especially through the nights of bad feelings- and that he will give me what is needed when it is needed is the lesson I'm in now. Going on about thirteen years now. We took a little detour when I chose to not trust and wandered off a few years.
The lesson starting with a friend dying in a car wreck. So when my 70! friend was in a wreck, and they took her to the same blasted hospital my friend died at, I had this moment in the parking lot. This overwhelmed too-young-for-this-itis. This: I can't do this again God, I truly can't. So you told me not to. 'This time, let me walk with you. Don't leave me out here letting those emergency room doors slam in my face like thirteen years ago. Instead, let me in to this.' So I did. Clinging to the edges of his robe like a cat hanging onto the living room curtains, I stick and dig my claws in deeper.
I pray and pray for the different stories swirling around me. One goes bad, as a boy dies and I had been praying for the big miracle and hoping against hope that it would be a Lazarus-like outcome. Instead we chat about what food we should take over- enchiladas? Pizzas? We discuss going to the funeral in business-clipped tones. It's the middle of my workweek so I decide not to go, especially since I went to last weeks funeral while he stayed home with the kids. We tag-team funerals.
Another one goes good as for years I prayed for a baby and there on my computer is the cutest, prayed-for face I have ever seen in my life. I keep flipping back to the baby. For right outside my window is the boy's house and I just can't even imagine losing a son. There aren't enough enchiladas in the world.
I bump into a father of another son I'm praying for and he tells me the next big event in their world is on Monday. Oh good, I think to myself, a whole weekend to pester God. If prayers are golden bowls up in heaven then I want to have an Ikea-like stack of a million racked up.
On the back of the door art cards I wrote part of the verse the exhibit is based on: "I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved..." John 10:9. The part that was left out was: 'and will go in and out and find pasture.' I think back to a sermon I heard years ago how shepherds used to lay down at the gate of the pen when they put the sheep to bed at night. Thus, their bodies literally made the door.
A door that laid down his very life.
This is the one I cling to. The one I pester with a million bowls. The one who equips me for the journey. The door by which I walk through, in and out of trials as simple as taking steps forward one way then the other. The eternal one who is ageless. Who 70! isn't even half of.
In about a month the doors art exhibit will start and my psycho-processing that resulted in a hundred or so art cards will hopefully bless people. I re-read January 12th and resist the urge to skip to January 23rd. I will catch up soon enough. Just like I will be 36, and then 70, before I know it. Until then, this time, I do what he asks and let him into this.