This morning I woke up refreshed. Granted, I had stayed up until four in the morning, reading The Abolition of Man and The Two Towers, but still, when I woke up around eleven o’clock, I felt refreshed and awake. As I lie there in bed, I was thinking about reaching over to my desk to grab my Bible when I was led to check my iPod first (which I don’t normally do). So I reach over to my iPod and start scrolling through all of everything when I come upon a message from my mother:
“Hunter, the weather has changed and the storm is coming to both of us tomorrow. I’m coming to pick you up today. We’ll be there around noon.”
It was eleven.
I jumped out of bed faster than Santa Claus downing 800 gingerbread men at a Christmas cookie-eating contest. I spun about my room in a whirlwind, ripping my suitcase out of my closet, yanking a duffel bag out from under my bed, throwing clothes and jewelry and books every which way. During this chaos I was also brushing my hair, trying to get changed, and, of course, running into things, falling over myself, and making weird noises like “meahhhhaa!” and “gabafugummumum.”
Mom skyped me fifteen minutes later from a McDonalds’, telling me she’d be there with my sister in about an hour and a half. Once I finished talking to her, I recommenced my frantic packing. Somehow, after many stubbed toes, paper cuts, broken zippers, and remembering forgotten items, I was packed and presentable. There was definitely some sort of divine intervention, because what I did was absolutely impossible, for me.
Lin, as I was packing like a madwoman, had figured out I was leaving today rather than tomorrow. So she got up and dressed and interrupted my packing to give me a gift and a letter. When I opened the little rectangular package, I saw five painted dolls no bigger than thimbles, lined perfectly, like sardines in a can. I didn’t know what to say.
“Be safe.” I said, thinking about all of the crazy things that could possibly happen outside of the secure gates of the campus. She was moving her things to an apartment with a friend tomorrow, and I was nervous. She smiled at me and told me to do the same. We had a great talk, many hugs and thank yous, and then she left to have lunch with Fly.
When she left, I opened the letter. She apologized for leaving me (though I knew her reasoning) and told me over and over that I was the best roommate in the world, that I was just too sweet and nice. But all I could think was that she hadn’t been saved. Believe me, I love the fact that she thought I was kind, but my kindness is so not because of me. Without knowing about God’s love for me, without loving Him, without letting Him into my heart so He can love others through me, I wouldn’t be as kind as others say I am.
God comforted me with the fact that even though she hadn’t been saved, she now knew about Him, about His for her, and really that’s all I was supposed to do anyway. I am not able to save Lin; that’s a ball that will forever remain in God’s heavenly court.
I wrote her a letter too. I told her, one last time, about God’s love for her. I told her about how thankful I was for her gift, for her company. I told her that I was glad she found me so kind, but that it wasn’t me she should be talking to; I couldn’t take the credit. By nature, I’m over dramatic, bitingly sarcastic, rude, and grouchy. But God does this thing…I don’t know how He does it; it’s like every time I think about Him, I’m just overcome with this confidence that even though people might not return kindness, I should still give it out…even when it’s hard, or uncommon, or unexpected, I want to be kind. Granted, I’m not always kind, but when I get over myself and just let God do what He wants, the world is a much better place.
I had a couple of minutes or so before my mother would arrive, so I went to see Karly. I had told her I was going to help her pack (she’s leaving tomorrow), but I’d texted her, explaining my situation and apologizing for not being able to help her. But now I had time! Her room was cluttered with boxes and Christian music filled every space that didn’t have packing peanuts on it 🙂 We had a good time packing…if a good time can be had while packing.
Karly, Shannon (my neighbor), and I ended up out in the hallway, talking, when Gracie and Mom came strutting down the hallway. I said goodbye to my dorm mates and, after bathroom breaks, hanging out in my dorm for a moment or two, me making a few trips around campus, and packing my things into the car, Gracie, Mom, and I headed out into the city.
I was planning on taking them to 7 Av., since there were so many different things there and there was sure to be a diner or pizza place at which we could sit and eat. We walked down into the subway and immediately upon hitting the bottom step we’re greeted by a man and a woman arguing rather loudly near the turnstile. At first I didn’t think anything of it; I had grown to mind my own business for the most part. I swiped Gracie and Mom through and then I swiped myself. But as we were getting ready to head down the stairs to the platform, I looked up to see the man violently grabbing the woman and ripping her purse away from her. She was yelling for help.
Without thinking, I start yelling at the man and running towards the emergency exit door so I can get to the woman.
Hunter, what are you gonna do? Look at this guy…he could seriously hurt you…
Gee I don’t know but I have to do something.
So I set off the alarm and step up to the man. His glare is frightening and I suddenly question the wisdom of my decision upon seeing his full size and stature. He stops walking and stands before me, holding the woman’s purse and a handful of bills. She came up and stepped between us, looking him right in the face and snatching her purse back. He talked past her at me, explaining that I can leave because she’s just a friend of his.
If she’s a friend then why are you treating her like this? I wanted to say, but the Holy Spirit led me to be silent.
The woman yells at him again. He tries to make himself big and tower above her, so I touch her arm to let her know she’s not alone. I’m desperately hoping my mom is calling the police. The alarm is still going off. People are hearing the noise and cluttering into the subway. He backs down, giving her back the money he’d taken from her purse. She walks away briskly and he stalks away as well, both in opposite directions. I stand there, alone.
Unfeeling, I swipe myself back through the turnstile to rejoin my sister and mother. We walk down onto the platform and stand there, when I suddenly realize what I had just done…I could have been seriously hurt.
I almost have a panic attack, right there on the platform. All of the feelings I should’ve felt during the confrontation–like, ya know, fear–come rushing into my heart all at once. I don’t know what to think. Gracie is afraid and she talks about wanting to leave the subway. I try to reassure her things like that don’t happen regularly…at least not when I’m there.
After a while the train pulls up and we get onto it, stopping at 7 Av. Immediately across the street we see a little diner; it’s where we have lunch together. I ordered a cheeseburger, Gracie ordered a pow mia, and mom ordered a philly cheese steak…though none of us ended up eating the things we ordered. Over the course of the meal, I swapped food with Gracie, Mom swapped food with me, and we all tried everything of each other’s. It was fun 🙂
We left the diner and headed back to campus, hitting the road the moment we returned. And suddenly we’re going home, stuck in traffic, talking about traffic, looking at traffic. An hour or so later, Gracie and I are arguing about The Lord of the Rings, Mom is getting frustrated with the traffic, I’m getting annoyed with everything, and Mom is getting annoyed with me and Gracie. And to think I was just told about how kind someone thought I was. The reminder shuts me up and brings me down off my pedestal.
Mom drives two hours before we stop at a McDonalds on 17 West. That’s when I take the wheel.
The moment I get on 17, it begins to snow, not hard, but as it comes at the windshield I kind of feel like Han Solo flying the Millenium Falcon. Mom keeps telling me how to drive, reminding me that I have a signal, telling me to stay in the right lane on the highway and look over my shoulder before I switch lanes, and announcing when I’m going over the speed limit. I grind my teeth and clench the steering wheel, getting very annoyed.
But then I stop.
God brought me back to when she was driving out of the City. How many times had I asked her to slow down? To keep left? How many times had I covered my eyes in fear of her hitting another car? How many times had I gripped the door handle out of discomfort? I felt terrible. Mom was just trying to help me; she knew I know how to drive; she was very aware of my experience with driving on highways, that it was expansive. But that wouldn’t keep her from trying to teach me, to remind me. She was just being my mom.
We rode on in silence for a while, and I realized I hadn’t spent my morning time with God, hadn’t studied His word, hadn’t written in my journal…no wonder I was being a grouch! Here I tell Lin that my kindness doesn’t come from me but God and then I go and prove it! I was brought down another level.
But despite how tense I had been throughout the trip, how frightening our subway experience had been, and how heavy my thoughts were, the three of us ended the trip home with singing Christmas songs.
Sometimes I wish I was perfect; sometimes I wish I could be nice to people all the time and I never got annoyed or argued or fought with anyone. But then I remember, without my mistakes, without messing up as often and as epically as I do, I wouldn’t need God.
“But wouldn’t it be nice not to need Him?”
…no. Thinking about a perfect life, a perfect attitude, a perfect everything without God…it makes my heart ache (corny, I know, but hey). I would much rather (and this is going to sound totally cliche, but it’s okay) live a life where I’m constantly falling flat on my face, being called a hypocrite, making things awkward, and crying over things that don’t matter and having to grow in this relationship with God than live a perfectly polished, spotless, blemish-free life without Him.
Tomorrow, I’m going to read all day. Then in the afternoon, Gracie and Jimmy have things to do and Mom and I are going to go shopping for ingredients for the Christmas party next weekend. I have a feeling that, even though I’m not in the City anymore, at least for a while, God is still going to send me on many adventures 🙂