Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Retreat! Retreat!" (Part Two)

Having fared somewhat less fabulously than I'd hoped on Friday night, I decided to find some purpose in all of this.  I began a journal.  It might help me get to the bottom of my "disconnect."  If not, at least it'll give me a record from which to learn something.

2:50 AM -- Asleep shortly after 10, but for the four and a half hours or so I slept, I must have awakened at least five times.  I am sooo tired.
3:15 AM -- Have to make my lunch.  But, I'm getting OK with that.  It's gonna be a good lunch, a healthy lunch, to go with my healthy attitude about a wonderful day dedicated solely to Jesus and me.
3:40 AM -- Why didn't I stop for coffee?
3:41 AM -- Why didn't I take off work?
5:47 AM -- So, how is all of this going?  Well, Satan has laid on a full court press.  Lousy sleep, everything in place for some fabulous fellowship, yet...  Something is in the way.  Bitterness?  Anger?  Self-aggrandizement or arrogance?  Thinking "I deserve to be treated better than this?" or "My agenda is more important/ sincere/ holy than the Chatty Kathies -- AND they're probably getting lunch!"?  Where did this legalism come from?!  Blech!
7:30 AM -- Leaving work now.  I wonder if anyone else is going through what I am going through for this.  Oh, enough with the legalism already!  We're not doing the "I should be treated better because" thing!  At least I'm good with the lunch thing, though.  I really am looking forward to my salad.  And as for fellowship?  Who knows, maybe I'll run into some other "ineligibles" and we can talk outside.

After ripping apart the English muffins, and turning my "2 for 3" into something truly worthy of the McDonald's moniker, I was feeling pretty good.  I had done my research on the praise band and was armed with the list of CD's to purchase, I was praying all the way down the road; I'd even made a pledge to myself that I would refrain from using the phrase "came straight from work" during all interactions (if they exist) even if the door opened wide.  There'll be no martyrs here today.

When I arrived I located the restrooms -- they were of course, in "the hall," right there with the coat rack.  I smiled to myself.  As I walked past the tables set for lunch, I barely flinched when I saw the cute little favors and Hershey kisses awaiting each "eligible" at her place.  "Praise You, God.  Remove all pettiness and strife from Your time today."

The auditorium was still being prepared, so I wandered around the lobby, noticing a lady who sat in the same row as I, last night.  I casually struck up a conversation about the books we were perusing...  I don't think she spoke English.

The CD table was open for business, so I headed on over.  A familiar face!  A quick glance at her nametag told me just where I recognized her from.  So, as my transaction was taking place, I casually mentioned that I had been trying to place her.  Her response was polite enough, her attempt to make me believe she actually recognized my name was charming (I'm relatively sure she did not, as most of my registrations for homeschool activities share my daughter's last name, and I had, unthinkingly given her mine), but her friendliness was absolutely checked.  "0 for 2 in Friendly Banter today," I thought.

I entered the auditorium, looking at the sea of coats, programs and other items dotting the room, saving seats for those (members, I'm sure) who had been there since early morning, working, and had access to the room.  No worries, I found a seat close to the front, right in the middle of a cluster of personal articles.  "Nothing like throwing yourself right into it."

The Chatty Kathies, of course, filed into the row ahead of me.  "Really?"  In my row I was asked to move "my friend" down, the group of ladies at the end had miscounted their saved seats.  "My friend" --  simply my jacket and Bible that I'd placed on the seat next to me.  My friend got moved to the other side.

Five minutes into the first speaker and Scott and Steven are blowing up my phone; apparently the sofa pick-up had developed some complications.  A quick call and some texts at the first break set everything square for now.  "The speaker seems like a really nice lady, talented, and she really loves the Lord.  Why do I feel as though I get more out of sermon on Sunday than I'm getting out of this?"

The next speaker was via video.  Incredible!  So charasmatic, so inspiring, so many points of challenge and conviction.  I was so mezmerized by the video I couldn't even take notes, but sincerely wish I had.  "This!  This is why you go to retreat," I thought.  "You're either deeply engrossed in study, or so fired up you can't contain it!"

Lunch was announced, with a heartfelt "thanks" to Chick-fil-A.  "Chick-fil-A?!  Chick-fill-A?!  Are you serious?  I missed Chick-fil-A?  Oh, come on.  And you just know there are people who didn't show!  Couldn't they have taken my name, told me to stop back at lunch, maybe claim a ticket someone hadn't used?  3 or 4 bucks?  They just bumped the refund factor up to 5, at least!"  I felt like I was last to be picked for kickball.

I called Scott.  I needed to focus on something else and I wanted to make sure everything had gone smoothly.  No answer.  I texted him, hoping Madison would text me back.  OK, nothing.  Steven?  No response there either.  "Such a simple thing -- picking up a sofa.  The one time I get out for some renewal, and all this stress.  This is why I don't--"  The thought came to me.  "Such a simple thing?  Like fixing a leak, or mending a tire, or re-hinging a cabinet..."  All things I'd have to clumsily muddle my way through, but Scott does them without a grumble or sigh, with no frustration at my ineptitude.

"Lord, this weekend may not be turing out like I planned, but I pray it is turning out like You planned.  Whatever You are trying to teach me, whatever it is that I am supposed to see, open my eyes, my ears, my heart to it.  Jesus, thank you for Scott.  He is amazing; a gift I could have never deserved without Your grace.  Thank You that You are here with me even when I can't seem to find You; You never lose track of me."

(Part 3 on Wednesday)
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