Did I ever tell you how my things disappeared in 2011 and 2012?
That era, when I was seeking God but more than a little confused, I began to lose things. My favorite trusty computer and computer bag that had walked with me all over tornado country on my writing trips: Gone. My sentimental coffee pot that had worked for years: Dead, on one significant morning when my “coffee from God” also ran out. My job at the jail that I thought would be perfect and was certain to get: Gone, because I failed the lie detector test (not lying!) These dramatic, unexplainable losses convinced me that God was doing something in my life, although I had no idea what. Certainly, He got my attention.
Now it’s 2017. It would be nice to think I have matured past the point of needing to learn life lessons from such drastic measures.
So I went confidently to my computer the other day to edit an important document and found that it was not there.
It still had the correct title, but the content contained words from a different document.
The original words had simply vanished. I searched my entire computer. I tried to revert to the previous version. Nothing worked. I don’t ever remember this happening to me before. I finally showed my problem to Marnell and he-
But I haven’t mentioned Marnell.
This is very complicated.
If you read my blog, then you must know that I love my life here on Brady Street. I love the hospital, I love school, I love my three beautiful and funny friends on Laurel Street. I love twilight and the St. Joseph’s River, and the way the geese touch down in the water as the darkness and the light trade places. I love the Baker’s Nook, and an early morning walk to the Corner Cafe for pecan pancakes. It’s not that I don’t get stressed or tired or angry or weepy from time to time, or that I live a perfect life, but I just love all these things.
Those three friends I mentioned are perhaps the most favorite of that list, and I just knew one of them was going to get married and ruin our perfect “It’s Saturday-night-let’s-go-get-
I didn’t mean it of course, but I wanted them to be worried that I might mean it. For myself, I had no worries. I had arrived at a state of feeling nearly certain that romance was not part of my life story, and that as long as God was with me, that was okay and perhaps better considering my love for studying and words and the Middle East and other unconventional things.
Then, in early February, I got an email from this guy named Marnell Lee, entitled “Thursday (tomorrow) evening supper?”
I didn’t know him. He was the sound guy when I gave a speech at the women’s conference Inspire. He took care of the microphones and Powerpoint and everything ran smoothly. I thought he was nice and comfortable… but that was January 2016.
Of course, I fled to Laurel Street. And, despite my dramatic promise to boycott their weddings, my friends were quite supportive.
“I know him, he’s a nice guy,” Velinda said. “You don’t have to have handwriting on the wall to go out with him and learn to know him.”
“I DO have to have handwriting on the wall,” I said. “Because I currently love my life just the way it is!”
She patiently reminded me of my most recent crises that showed I didn’t love all of my life. She was right, but I still went home and created a new document on Microsoft Word entitled “Handwriting on the Wall”. Problems are always more manageable on paper, and I guess I felt more in control if I could write about it.
And God gave me things to put on the document.
My aunt knows Marnell, so she was telling me all the good things she knew about him. In fact she said she really didn’t know anything bad about him. However, she said she doesn’t know if he travels much. I made a mental note to grieve over my love for the Middle East. It’s not that I had any immediate plans of going back to Jordan or Lebanon, but I have a particular connection with those places.
However, the first time I talked to Marnell, we talked about the Middle East. He told me he had been to Israel and Jordan. In fact, unlike me, he had been to the Middle East twice.
So I put that in my document.
My sisters gave non-stop commentary.
“You always said your first name is too long, and so you can’t marry anyone with more than two syllables in their last name!” Kelsie pointed out to me.
Well, everyone says ridiculous things like that. Still, you can’t get much shorter than “Lee”, so I added it to my document.
Then my aunt text me one night and said, “Can you believe it? Marnell’s birthday is October 15!”
Now of all the days in the year, no day has been as significant to me as October 15th. That day is my mom’s birthday, and one year in particular since her death (2013), God spoke to me very specifically on that day, restoring hope to replace the confusion of the doubts I battled in 2011.
No, I couldn’t believe it. So I added it to my document.
I had put about 7 things on the document when it disappeared. By this time Marnell and I had eaten supper at Cappy’s a couple of times.
He is a nice guy, I admitted to myself. The first time he prayed thanking God for our food, I was struck by the confidence, comfort, and relevance of his brief prayer. Clearly he was accustomed to talking to God, and this made me admire him.
But I began to feel like I was standing in a bank of fog rolling in from the sea. I felt disoriented, lost, unsure of my surroundings. I felt like I could not remember who I had been in January. And I still hadn’t decided about going to medical school, although in truth I had been slowly backing away from the idea because I love doing my online school so much.
I confided in one of my co-workers, Mary, one day.
“I feel like I’m not the rational person I used to be,” I told her.
“Good,” she said.
I talked to my older brother Scott on the phone.
“I don’t even know if I should date, because I’m not sure I’m the marrying kind at this point,” I said.
He just burst out laughing.
I ran into a couple of coworkers in the cafeteria and told them how I was feeling.
“I just really didn’t have this on my radar,” I said as we waited for the grill.
“That’s how it happens,” Jesse said with a twinkle in her eye.
“Have a good night, girlfriend,” Jenny said dramatically.
I told Marnell how I felt one night at Starbucks while I sipped a hot chocolate that he had bought for me. I appreciated the drink, but the idea that someone else would buy my hot chocolate was foreign propaganda as well. Everything was unfamiliar and strange, and I told him this, a bit tearfully I’m afraid. Then I told him what Velinda had said and how I made a document called “Handwriting on the Wall”.
“And then I lost my document!” I exclaimed.
It was really an odd disappearance.
“Well,” he said after a little reflection, “maybe that’s a good thing.”
“But I know God showed me those things,” I protested.
“I’m sure He did,” he said.
“But maybe he wants me to just trust Him, perhaps?” I suggested, reading his mind. I have to confess, he was doing such a fantastic job of listening, I began to laugh at myself. I mean, really, who drafts a document to…
“Maybe so,” he said with a smile.
He looked at my computer but he agreed the file would not be easily retrievable. Coming from an IT guy, I decided to abandon the search.
A few days later, we were discussing Isaiah when we ran across Isaiah 5:18-19:
Woe to those…who say: “Let Him hurry up and do His work quickly so that we can see it! Let the plan of the Holy One of Israel take place so that we can know it!”
“Dear me… It’s like God rebuked them for asking for signs!” I exclaimed. “That’s why God took my document!”
At this point, Marnell might have said, “See, what did I tell you?”
But he didn’t.
That’s it for now. I think I said it last spring, but I’ll say it again: if you are looking for neatly finished, rational stories, you’d better find another blog. However, since 2011, I have learned more fully that God is completely trustworthy, that He loves us, and that He knows what He’s doing even when we don’t understand Him.
By the way, did you see the beautiful flowers at the end of my blog last week? I couldn’t bring myself to tell you who they were from, but I had to share them as a subtle hint.
And the river was really beautiful the other night!