So, the last couple of days haven’t exactly gone according to plan…
Like, at all….
I had planned to spend Tuesday getting ready for the Christmas party, baking and cleaning and such to welcome my friends and to make the party as fun and lighthearted as possible. Well, I actually spent Tuesday doing many different things. First of all, because of my fantastic collegiate habit of staying up until two in the morning, when I woke up at six to drop Mom and Jimmy off at school, the four ours was weighing down my brain. Regardless, I got out of bed. There was no conditioner in the shower, so I grumbled to myself but continued with making myself relatively presentable and doing what I was asked.
The roads were terrible, and I forgot how dark it is at six or seven in the morning. It had been snowing for about three days and the temperature was dipping below zero. I had to buy some ingredients, but none of the stores in town (save one, but that’s the most expensive) were open because it was too early. So I went back to the house and began making what I could.
Later, after obtaining the ingredients, I finished up most of the baking. Dad came home and I asked him if he wanted to put up the outside lights with me. When he said no and began playing on his iPod, saying he was leaving in an hour (a perfectly good and rational reason not to get into a big project), I threw an internal hissy fit, threw on my boots and snow gear, grabbed the box of lights, and went outside. It took me about five seconds to realize I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. But for some stupid reason (maybe it was because I was tired, maybe it was because I was stressed, take your pick) I did not want to ask Dad for help. By nature, I hate asking for help; I want to be able to take care of myself and prove that I’m capable of being independent. But seeing how stupid of a mind set that was, I finally asked him for help. In the end I didn’t get them put up, only because I ran out of time and I’m apparently incapable of using a hand drill.
During this mini-adventure, Cheyenne called and asked if everyone could car pool over about two hours early. The party started at six, which meant they would be arriving at my house around four. I had to pick my mom up from work at a quarter after four. I had to pick Gracie up from school around 2:20. I still hadn’t begun making the spaghetti or chopping vegetables or completing the many tasks I needed to start and finish. I was freaking out.
Then, when I thought all the surprises were done with, Chey texted me about an hour later, an hour before I had to go pick up Gracie from school, asking for something else. She was saying that her and her cousin, Sierra, were concerned about making the guys drive back on the bad roads at night and were wondering if they could stay over night at my house.
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
I am NOT okay with that. It’s weird; I don’t mind going on camping trips with guys, or even sleeping in the same general vicinity (like, in the dorms, for example), but to have guys my age sleeping over at my house while me and my girl friends were having a sleepover…problem. Sleepovers are for same gender people. Call me old-fashioned, but I really don’t want to be having a giggle-fest up in my room, wearing my pink flannel pajamas and gabbing about boys when there are boys right downstairs, listening to everything I’m saying. But then I began to think about it and I realized how much I just wanted to crawl into a hole and sleep for a little while. I didn’t want to cancel the party. I didn’t want the guys to stay. I didn’t even want to think about having the guys stay much less ask my parents to allow them. But I knew how bad the roads were, and I didn’t want to put them in danger.
I didn’t know what to do, so I called my father.
I mean, if he says ‘no,’ then I guess that means ‘no’…yeah
Dad understood and was fine with it, as long as they slept downstairs and us girls slept upstairs. I was not relieved to hear this answer, but I went against my fear and discomfort and told Chey it was fine. I couldn’t stop thinking about it the rest of the day.
Around 12:45 was when I stepped outside to shovel out my car, because I wasn’t going anywhere if I didn’t. I shoveled the driveway behind and in front of the car all the way up to the road, feeling like my work was in vain because there were millions more flakes coming down a covering the traces of my labor. It was a little after one o’clock before I finally got out of the driveway. On the way to pick Gracie up from school, I fishtailed, slid, slipped, and maneuvered like there was no tomorrow; the wheels of my car just wouldn’t grip the ground because of all the snow. Thankfully, I am a professional…wow, it was really hard not to laugh while typing that.
I arrived at school and saw all of the people I had left behind last year after graduation. It was so nice to see all of them and catch up 🙂 When I was in middle school, I always thought it was cool when college kids would come into class to talk to the teachers because the kid would’ve had them in middle school. I had vowed before I got into high school to visit my teachers while I was gone off to college. And I did 🙂
So me and the munchkin drive home (not without struggling) and all the way I’m going about thirty-five to forty miles an hour. Car after car passes me, going fifty-five to sixty miles. I feel embarrassed, like I’m a wimp. But then I decide I don’t care. I hoped they wouldn’t get in an accident and I kept driving cautiously.
On the way home I pick Mom up from work, telling her about the whole Christmas party situation. She’s not happy about it, and neither am I. I’m still stressed and worried about everything.
Next thing I know, I’m in the kitchen, chopping vegetables (actually, it’s more like taking my frustration and stress out on an innocent green bell pepper via steak knife), and my brain is just steaming.
I hate the fact that I’m trapped with the whole money thing. I hate the fact that my girl friends would corner me with asking to let the guys stay the night. I hate the fact that this knife isn’t sharp enough to adequately chop this pepper!
…yeah, it was pretty bad.
I just want to stop and thank the Lord for my mother. We have our quarrels and our fights, but she’s always been a mom to me. She’s never tried to be anything she’s not and I feel like I could always count on her. I really hope I can be like her someday, if I get married and have children. She comes into the kitchen and offers me some dark chocolate almond bark. DARK CHOCOLATE ALMOND BARK. I eat two pieces and get chocolate all over my face, but I suddenly don’t feel like murdering the cutting board anymore. I tell my mom about my frustrations and she tells me….wait…she tells me to relax.
RELAX? WHAT IS THIS THING OF WHICH YOU SPEAK???
At that point I knew I should or else I wouldn’t enjoy the party or the company of my friends. But I honestly didn’t know how to relax. Isn’t that terrible? I’m really bad at relaxing. I think relaxing, like really relaxing, is a skill, one that I need to hone to perfection somehow. I think because of how fast-paced the majority of the world is (or at least my small, limited world that is America) most people don’t actually know how to relax. We’re always moving so fast and nonstop that I think we’ve completely weened ourselves off of the need of relaxation, down time, and breaks…but perhaps we haven’t necessarily weened ourselves off of it, but more forgotten that we actually have that need.
Instead of relaxing, I stepped back and asked God just to do something about the whole guy thing, about the whole safety thing, about everything, because I can’t handle it. He’s got the control; I don’t. Everybody comes over. I realize that it’s not snowing and hasn’t been snowing for a good four hours by this time, and if it doesn’t snow while the party is going on, then the guys won’t have to stay.
The party was actually a lot of fun 🙂 everybody loved the food. We exchanged presents (I bought a Duck Dynasty throw blanket with all of the family members’ faces on it :D), told stories, and played charades. Charades, I think, was my favorite part. At one point, the category was songs, and every time we guessed a song, my friend Maisy and I (who are serious art and music and book people) would burst out with the lyrics, since we knew almost every single song. Despite the fun I have, I can’t help but wish I were with my city friends, the friends like Edward, Adham, Rebecca, and Charlene who challenge my brain in the way of the One I love the most and make me see things differently, but in a way that will encourage rather than discourage me. As I sit and listen to the conversations taking place in the real moment, I’m wondering what the benefit of it all is to any of us for me to be listening.
Around eleven, after many cups of hot cocoa, helpings of junk food, and side-splitting laughs, one of my guy friends stand up and say they’d better get going. I had told them a couple of hours earlier that they weren’t staying because the roads were fine. I felt harsh saying that, but I knew this was one time I couldn’t let myself be as nice or as understanding or as flexible as I wanted to.
So the guys head outside and I discover, after pulling out my father’s massive truck so they can pull out their tiny car, they’re stuck. So what do I do? I ask Noah, one of my friends, to grab two snow shovels from the lobby and we start shoveling as much of the snow as we can too improve the traction. It doesn’t work. We try again. Still doesn’t work.
Finally my mother comes out and I think just her presence caused us to have common sense…it must be a mom thing. Anyway, we all at once get the brilliant idea to turn the car around so they can go out of the driveway forward instead of trying to back out. Duh. So Brian, the driver, tries to do a three point turn at the bottom of my driveway but he gets stuck in a snow bank (yeah, I know). So about five of us push him out and he finishes the turn. Then, as he’s struggling to pull out of the driveway yet again, the three of us, Cheyenne, Noah, and I, get behind and begin pushing the car with all the strength we have.
They got out of the driveway 🙂
I pulled the truck back down and went inside to thaw my hands. Cheyenne, Sierra, and I sit in the living room talking about parents, about life, about boys, about the party. Eventually Sierra falls asleep and it’s just me and Chey awake, talking. Somehow, the conversation turned to God, and I began to get excited because I always get excited when talking about God. But Chey is agnositc. The thing about agnosticism, is it’s based off of the idea that we don’t know for sure that there is or isn’t a God. There are no absolutes in life. Everything is a grey area.
Her questions were difficult, and her assumptions stung, but I sat back and let God answer. Though the two-hour conversation ended without “making progress,” with me feeling unsatisfied but certainly not flustered and Chey still content with being uncertain, it gave me an opportunity to reflect on some important things, things that might’ve been weighing me down and I didn’t realize their power over me and their affect on my life. I’m hoping she felt the same way…but I feel like she thought it to be more uncomfortable than anything else.
This scene of reality reminded me very much of a scene from the Christy Miller Series by Robin Jones Gunn. I’ve mentioned this series before and I’m not shy about telling you to go out and read them so you can understand the awesomeness of these books. They’re not philosophical; they’re not literarily unique; but the message they project and the journey they take you on is amazing and I loved it. These books are some of the few I can read over and over and over again without ever getting bored.
The scene of which I’m speaking is when Christy has moved to California from Wisconsin, leaving her friend Paula behind. After a year or so of being separated, Paula comes to visit Christy in California. Over her visit, Christy is shocked to see and experience how different Paula is in her thinking, her appearance, her standard, her beliefs, everything. Christy tries to use the baseball bat method and sort of preaches to Paula, pushing God on her. Well, we all know this doesn’t really work. At the end of the visit, Paula tells Christy she understands what she’s trying to say but she just wants to figure it all out on her own, and Christy backs down, realizing her flaw and letting God take care of it. We’re never told if Paula gets saved or not, or even if they talk again after that visit, but the point is that Paula changed and Christy didn’t know how to react to it.
When Cheyenne and I were littler, I constantly beat her over the head with the gospel, even though I was only ten or eleven and didn’t really understand what I was saying. When it all finally clicked, when I finally let God infiltrate and consume every part of me, I realized that Cheyenne’s salvation was totally between her and God, just like anyone else I talked to about Him. You can’t force someone into a relationship, and even if you do, that person is miserable. I think it’s the same with God. God doesn’t want you to feel obligated to hang out with Him. It’s kind of like someone begging their friend to come to an amusement park with them but their friend doesn’t want to hang out with them. Finally, after tons of begging, the friend says, “ugh, fine, I’ll come for, like, fifteen minutes.” They don’t really want to do it, but they feel obligated. I don’t know about you, but people make me feel icky when they do that. God wants you to want Him.
Chey and I finally fell asleep around four in the morning. I woke up at around 6:40 to take Gracie and Jimmy to school and Mom to work, and to pick up breakfast for us girls. I don’t know why I feel like the effects of sleep deprivation are nullified or watered-down just because I’m not at college. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: AN ADEQUATE AMOUNT OF SLEEP IS NEEDED. I nearly fell asleep on the way back to the house after going to Dunkin’ Donuts to get breakfast. I felt disgusting when I walked in the door of my house. My hair was flat and greasy; my stomach was empty; my skin was dry. I just felt gross.
I waited with Chey and Sierra until around ten when they were picked up. Then I exercised for only thirty minutes or so before remembering I didn’t really have time to exercise: the house was still a mess from the party last night, I had to pick Gracie up from school and Mom up from work, and I still hadn’t blogged or done my devotions. My entire system was all outta whack.
I had just finished cleaning up and exercising when I sat down to try and write. But because I was living on two or so hours of sleep, my head grew heavy and I was soon passed out on the couch. When I woke up, it was time for me to go get Gracie.
So, by the time I had returned home from getting Gracie and then arrived at Mom’s work, my head was spinning. I was tired. I was stressed. I was worried. I felt sick. I felt gross and greasy and I desperately needed to take a shower. I walked up to my mom’s classroom and when she walked in after me I told her how miserable I was and about how this break, though I was glad to be home, was turning out to be really miserable. My mom just shook her head at me when I was finished.
“Hunter, you just need to relax.”
Though she’d said this yesterday, during a very similar scene, I sort of got it this time, where as last time I had ignored it. Why was I so worried? It’s Christmastime! Isn’t Christmas supposed to be fun? Also, I hadn’t had time with God in about two days, though I can’t say I had the brain power to focus on my time with Him anyway. God reminded me that, even though I don’t have a job, even though I’m tired and I’m stressed and I feel like I’m going nowhere, HE’S GOING TO TAKE CARE OF ME. Just because all of these things are in front of me doesn’t mean I stop living. I just need to relax.
So, without further adeu, I am going to go grocery shopping with Mom tomorrow morning, then I’m going to Utica to go Christmas shopping, and I’m not going to freak out about money or about the future or about anything and I am going to have a great time getting things for other people and spending the day appreciating what God has given me here and now. I’m so done with worrying.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
Matthew 6:34, NIV