At the Station

Image

I found myself at the platform of a train station. I’m not sure how I got there or where I was headed. I just knew how very weary I was and that I’d been traveling a long time.

Looking around me, I was surprised to see that amid the hustle and bustle were not the faces of strangers, but family, friends, and acquaintances. Curiously, some of these I hadn’t seen in years and many I’d never see again. As I met their eyes, there lingered a question within that I couldn’t quite fathom.

Upon closer examination I saw that each had one or more suitcases with them – old, new, plain, fancy, worn, small, and large. On the cases were labels, but instead of countries were written words that I found even more confusing. This one carried a bag labeled ‘kindness.’ That one bore a particularly unattractive case with ‘abuse’ plastered across it. One face I knew very well belonged to a man juggling a collection of bags – ‘bitterness’, ‘disappointment’, ‘humor’, ‘work ethic’, and ‘confidence.’ I saw my mother holding matching Samsonite bags – light blue – identified as ‘strength’, ‘hospitality’, ‘justice’, and ‘integrity.’

Glancing down at my feet I saw my own luggage. I was surprised to see that these bags matched many of those before me. I suddenly realized that the question on their faces was actually a beckoning. “Will you take my bags?”

I tried to gather my own and discovered that I couldn’t carry them all. ‘What am I to do?’ I wondered. I was unable to move in any direction with all of them and, distressed, I cast about for help.

Seeing my frustration, the station master approached me. “What seems to be the problem?” he asked.
“I have so many bags, and all these people want me to carry theirs!”
“That is a problem,” he responded. “Why not leave some of them here?”
“Well, they’re all mine. I have to carry them. See this one? He gave it to me when I was twelve.”
“It looks awfully heavy,” the station master prodded.
“Yes, but I’ve become accustomed to it.” A sad sigh fell like a heavy cloud from my lips to the bag labeled ‘dirty secret.’
“Well, this one looks much lighter.”
“Oh yes, I think I’ve had that one my whole life. My grandmother gave it to me.” Proudly I showed him a well-worn bag marked ‘faith.’ “Actually, it’s been passed down from her to my mother and from her to me.”
“Hmm. If you stack these just so,” he suggested, grabbing ‘warmth’, ‘joy’, ‘wisdom’, and ‘serving’ and placing one atop the other.
“Oh, but that is far too tall!”
“Yes, but they are very light. However, you will have to use both hands.”
“If I use both hands I won’t be able to carry ‘doubt’, ‘fear’, ‘bitterness’, and ‘objectification.’”
“Sounds to me like you have a choice to make. I must tell you, though, that you won’t be able to get to your destination with those.”
“I don’t know what to do. How do I know what to choose? I’m afraid I’ll miss my train while I’m trying to sort it all out.”
“If you’ll allow me to help you, I promise to hold the train for you.”

As we sorted through the bags I was surprised to find just how much I had been dragging with me. Standing and grasping the handles of my new load, I set off for the train. Just before stepping on board, I turned to see the station master assisting another passenger.

“Wait, what if I pick up more bags along the way?” I called out to him.
“There is always a station master that’s willing to help you sort them out again,” he called back with a smile on his face.

I stepped onto the train, stowed every bit of the luggage, and settled in to my compartment with my face toward my destination. I still didn’t know where that would eventually be, but I felt sure for the first time that I would reach it.

Advertisements

My Dorsal Fin

I’ve spent a lot of time in school – make that a LOT of time in school.  I love learning.  It’s almost a compulsion for me, and according to my kids, an unhealthy one.   It seems, though, that after all this time I haven’t necessarily retained what my teachers intended.  I draw blanks on personality theorists and theories, and I still have a hard time keeping Elijah and Elisha straight.  Oh sure, I can play a pretty mean game of trivia, but there are a lot of gaps.

It’s the same way with my life.  There seem to be plenty of things that haven’t made it from my head to my heart.  Apparently knowing and living are two different things – who’da thunk it?  The last four years have been a particularly intense time of life instruction, and I think, just maybe, I’ve learned a thing or two.  The first, but most recent, is that I don’t like to ask for help.  This was a revelation, because as a wife and mother, I thought I was always asking for help.  You see, however, asking and liking to ask are two different things.

This revelation came about as a result of a serious car accident on March 11th.  In a head-on collision I managed to do a great deal of damage to my body – thankfully not permanent.  Still, it has required me to lay down my agenda, and let slide my own and others’ expectations of my productivity.  Almost my identity.  It has been as painful emotionally as it has been physically.
One of the most painful things has been the loss of autonomy.  I never would have said I wanted to do everything myself (still wouldn’t!), but having to rely on others has been SO STINKIN’ HARD!  Don’t get me wrong, I am ever so grateful for the help I’ve received.  My family and I wouldn’t have made it – literally – without this community of support.  But you see, I’m the helper. the doer. the listener.  I’m comfortable in that role.  Not always thrilled, but pretty much content.  Perhaps it comes from being the youngest, but I hate the very idea of being a bother, an obligation.  Even now it pricks at my heart.
I can acknowledge wanting help, but I don’t want to ask for help.  What if people say no?  How embarrassing will that be for both of us?  Rejection.  Shame.  Even worse, what if they want to say no, but don’t, and then just resent me for asking?  How about it’s all volunteer.  Knock me down with volunteering.  Read my mind.
Here’s the deal:  this drama being played out in my earthly relationships is just the visible representation of my heavenly relationship.  I deal with others like I deal with the Father.  Dangit!  I hate when that happens!

 

                                                                   

 

You see, the realization is only half the battle.  Now I have to begin to uncover the ways that my broken thinking is hindering, nay handicapping, my relationships on both levels.  And THEN I have to CHANGE!  I can’t just go halfway.
So what’s the good news?  Well, that’s the second thing I’ve learned.  God is a redeemer – no, wait, He’s the Redeemer – no, no, – my Father is my Redeemer!  He never wastes any thing, any moment, any experience.  No matter how much I mess it up or what plans the enemy had for my destruction, God will transform it into something beautiful if i will let Him.  Crazy, right?
This is what carries me through the hard times.  It’s the only reason I can choose to ask, “What do You want to do with this situation?  What do You want me to learn?” instead of becoming bitter and broken.  I still have to do the dirty work of excavating, but I’m so glad that He does the transforming.  And if I ask Him, He’ll even show me where to dig.
Finally, I’ve learned that He’s faithful – and perhaps that’s what He wanted me to learn after all.