They call this style of apartment an efficiency. Every space has a defined purpose. Streamlined.
But a lot of days I ache for the empty spaces. I go over to the big house and sit in the unnecessary room with the hunter green wallpaper and the termite damage. When we walk people through the house it’s the room we breeze by, explaining that as soon as we start fixing the kitchen the wall will go and it will be useful again. But I like it I like the way it doesn’t tell me what to do in it. The kitchen wants me to cook, the living room wants me to find a way to converse with my family, and the office wants me to fight my way out from under the piles of schoolwork. But this room seems to be telling me that it’s okay to just sit here (on the floor, because there are no chairs, but that’s okay because it means I can also lay down if I want to).
We like for things to be efficient. We like days with blocks for driving and learning and working and eating and sleeping. We like to have the right amounts of time to get where we need to go. To have places for all our possessions. Places for all our emotions. A need, and a way to meet it.
I am inefficient. I run late, and clamor in with my hurried footsteps out of sync in the echo-y space of the lobby. I am early and chewing a stick of gum in my car while the clock ticks and a new song comes on the radio. I have needs with no hope of being met, and I have grace for which there is no application. There is no place in efficiency for the times when I stare at nothing in particular and start to feel my heart relax.
The road is curvy. And I know that the fastest way to where you’re going is a straight line, but I am, to say it in the most cliché way I can, prone to wander. And yes, I feel it. This is what I’m learning from the charismatics (which is, of itself, an inefficient place for me to land. My type run again and again to the Anglicans for deep, calm simplicity and richness. That is not my story). In the cluttered mess of church the people clap noisily and pray for words and visions. The simple, efficient thing would be to read the words. To believe them. Not to struggle with them. Not to celebrate every victory and mourn every defeat with such intensity. But in the midst of this haphazardness I am loved. And I don’t feel that pressure to be or feel anything. I thank God for the grace to laugh hysterically when the night is heavy and to cry when there is absolutely nothing wrong. Because if there is one thing I don’t need, it is someone telling me how this transition should have gone.
It was always going to be hard. And I’m thankful for the people who leaned in and listened and reminded me that it isn’t going to be perfect. I’m finding I can believe in a God who doesn’t always make things neat and perfect right away (and it’s easier to believe He could love me because let’s face it…I am neither of those things).
The road is curvy, and I am leaning into yet another bend; the journey winds on itself and painstakingly continues up the mountain. Twisting around truths. I’m learning to pray like it’s just talking, and I’m wasting my words. Prattling like a toddler with her first full sentences, there are hurried monologues and faltering spaces in the words I give to God. We stand for communion, and it is not the practiced perfect application I have seen before. We come in huddles or alone and scatter. We hold it in our hands, and wait until we’re ready. Quietly, we raise it to our lips and wander back. The empty plastic cup stays wedged in my jeans pocket all day.
And love was not the efficient way to save me. Jesus came as a person, and it was messy around the edges. He wept and ached and was tired. For part of the time God walked the earth He was a person who took naps at strange moments and pulled the occasional all nighter. I was not the efficient way to reach the world. Instead I was Jonah, making a mess (and again with the weirdly timed naps). God uses the weak and foolish things to shame the wise. It seems like He could do that differently. His grace is perfect in weakness, and my strengths are really just in the way. That’s not the way they teach it in management seminars. Maybe I’m just slow on the uptake in this upside down kingdom.
She told me from the passenger seat of my car that I can learn to love the wandering. That the uncertainty is what makes the story mine.