Don't you hate it when you get caught off guard? Here's a perfect opportunity to share what God's done for you and you either miss it entirely or just trip over yourself trying to find the right words. I do this all the time when sharing ANYTHING, not just when it has to do with God. Oral communication is not my forte. Honestly, I'm not a fantastic writer either, but at least here I can cut and paste until it makes sense w/o confusing my audience too much. :)
Well this weekend we had our couches cleaned professionaly for the first time in 11 years. (I know, gross right? Relax, I've done it myself with a shop vac and spray bottle...I tried!) This was my little splurge from my husband's year end bonus. The guys who came to steam clean the couches were great. One of them worked for 15-20 minutes on one pillow before he came and got me. He was frustrated at himself because he could not get every bit of lint and pet hair off the plush cushions and he'd only tried to clean 1 of them so far.
I assured him over and over that I never expected him to get all the lint or hair off. I've tried it myself and am content with what comes off when I vacuum, but really I just wanted to know that the seats were sanitized and not be able to see the spills we've decorated them with over the years.
He went back to work but after finishing one couch he was still very frustrated with the lint and hair and a couple of spots he just could not get out. He wanted me to look and see if I still wanted to have both couches done because he didn't want me to pay for something that didn't look much different to him than when he had started. I assured him it was great, (it really did look a LOT better) and to yes, please go ahead and do both. I promised him the hair and lint didn't bother me and told him, "not to discourage you, but you're going to walk out and the pets will sneak right back up on there. The chocolate ice cream stain is gone and the cushions are sanitary again, that is what I wanted. Just do what you can with the other spots but if they don't come out, they don't."
When it came time to pay he told me he really wanted the couches to look different (minus the cat hair they looked brand new to me, by the way). He's used to seeing a dramatic change when he steam cleans upholstery and the dark wine color (which hides a lot) didn't change the way a lighter color couch would have when it is cleaned. So the big difference he had hoped to see was less lint and less pet hair. I told him I thought it was great, the chocolate spill was gone, the blue laundry detergent spill that happened during our move was gone, he actually did get the other spots out, and there was less lint then he had started with. I was thrilled. But he still insisted on giving me a discount because of the bit of hair and lint he'd left behind.
After I paid he said "You sure are calm about this. Most customers would be very upset and expect perfection when they are paying for this." I told him that I've tried cleaning those cushions myself and I know what to expect....which is why I wanted to pay someone else to do it! Then I thought a minute and realized that a few years ago I probably would have been more upset about it. I used to pay attention to every little detail in my home (and I'm sure I was no fun to live with in regards to that!) Anyway my thought process Saturday morning just didn't go far enough. But I admitted to him as it occurred to me, that "Yeah, ya know what? I probably would have been that way in the old house. But it really doesn't bother me now." And then he began asking about where we used to live and we talked about small towns and new construction before he left.
After he left though, I sat down to think it over. What IS different? Why doesn't this bug me when I KNOW I would have been upset about it in our old home. I sure wouldn't have kept telling him not to worry about it, I would have expected them to get everything off with their big machines and big price tag. Instead of being surprised when he offered me a discount, I probably would have demanded one (yes demanded, I might live in TX now but I'm still a Jersey Girl)!
And then my brain got there.
It's because there was more than one time over the last 4 1/2 years where I thought that I would not live much longer. I remember fighting that realization so hard. I couldn't leave my daughter and my husband, I wasn't ready to be done here. I didn't want my girl to face the world without me or my husband to realize what a lousy wife I had really been in comparison to whoever he would marry later. I was comfortable in my life, my home, I wanted more children, and I had plans, darn it! I remember throwing myself into that brick wall over and over and over, the brick wall of knowing I was not in control. I couldn't stop what was happening. All I have and all I wanted were not going to last.
I had lost sight of the fact that this is not my real home. "Our citizenship is in Heaven." (Phil 3:20). I think I had such a crazy tight grip on the blessings I had turned into idols, that I needed years of illness to pry my fingers loose. I needed to realize my heart had become divided. And when you are finally laying in bed thinking that there can't be many weeks or months left now, it's amazing how clearly unimportant so many things are. And who really wants to cling to idols that crumble?.....
Now, I know that sometimes I'm a little slow to catch on. It used to mortify m though now it mostly just amuses me. But this time I was ashamed and frustrated because he was gone and I could have told him! I could have told him that I was calm because the couch doesn't matter, it doesn't last. And I could have told him what does last! Christ's payment for my debt of sin, His amazing love, and the home He's preparing for me. Those will never have an end.
But I wasn't ready (1Peter 3:15). I didn't tell him.
So now I'm telling you, and praying to be ready for the next one.