In the beginning of this month, my friend Trisha sent me a book. When it finally came in the mail, I was giddy. To see the little package on the chair. To be reminded I was known. Though Jesus has been faithful with food, drink, and shelter, this was different.
Well, to me at least. There’s something about being given written word. Books. Text messages. Notes. I see God’s handwriting most vividly in this way. This isn’t an offense toward the necessities of life—because in the repetitive there is love.
But sometimes, one act can lead to expectation. And expectancy is a messy game. Especially when you’re me with easily dashed hopes these days.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22
See, when I opened Amazon’s perfect taping job, I didn’t expect to cry. Not full out sobbing, but enough to make my eyes wet. I took the book from the bubble wrap inside, smiling. I put the packaging to the side and opened the cover of the book. Then, I felt the welling.
I checked the package. Nothing. Flipped through book. Nothing. Checked inside the cover only to find a message from 2000: If you enjoy, pass it on. I looked inside the package again. Nope. Nice try, Julia.
At this point, I think I began telling my mother no letter came with the book. Her reply? The mail song from Blues Clues. Yes, I had a thing for Steve when I was younger. He wore my favorite color (green) shirt. And his excitement about getting letters was fascinating to me.
Sitting here, I’m wondering if it would be the same reaction with bills…
After my mom finished her song, I told her I shouldn’t be crying over this. I just really want someone to send me a letter.
And there was the truth. I tried covering myself.
I really am depressed.
Well, I’m telling myself the truth, I didn’t get a letter.
Or rather, one of those little pieces of paper with a message I unexpectedly received the last time she sent a book.. There is a key word in the previous sentence. Unexpected.
My mother, being quick to turn my attention off myself for a second, asked a few questions before, “She has three young kids and sent that to you.” (These may not be exact words. I’ve been thinking about this whole thing for weeks.)
I sat at the table, eating pretzels & greek yogurt chipotle dip, staring into space. My body knew I had put my hope in material rather than Jesus. My heart took a little longer to get the memo. I’m quicker to shame myself than try listening to truth.
After eating dinner, I went back to reading a blog post sharing this book on hope for tired moms.
“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.” Matthew 7:12 MSG
I actually heard it: do to others as you want done for you. I felt a breath from within. A joy I knew only God could give. I bought the book, attaching what I thought was a cheesy note within 5 minutes.
Here’s what makes me smirk.
1. I had low funds. The shipping cost on Amazon though cheap, made the book seem pricey. But, the cool breath wouldn’t stop whispering, Go.
2. The book was out of stock. It was published the 1st, but I assumed a new shipment would arrive within 1-2 days.
3. 1-2 days was not the case. It tested my patience. I checked my email everyday. I wondered. Begged God to speed the process.
4. I cracked one of the days. I decided to chat with a representative, asking if she knew when new copies would come. She was so sorry. Within 5 minutes, she upgraded the shipping to One Day and waived shipping fee. I was floored. I didn’t ask for that. I was even unsure I would have to pay, though she told me I didn’t. And they’d email when they shipped it. I said thank you and waited.
5. Last Friday I was talking to God about it again. I felt the nudge to check my email, though I didn’t want to see nothing again. It shipped. The hilarious part? According to Amazon, it was still out stock. I told God, only you could do something like that. Pretty sure I heard a laugh not my own.
6. I started to track the book, but gave up after realizing it wasn’t going to update as much as I liked. And, I was driving myself nuts. I think excitement may have played a role..
7. This became so much more than about a note. The expectation vanished, watched him use my small offering to show his love to this friend, who’s life is way more chaotic than mine. (Let’s be honest, it’s chaotic most in my head).
I’ve heard the Golden Rule since I was a child. I agreed without understanding what this rule means. I mean, I follow rules because I do what I’m told. There’s no trouble this way. And I make someone proud. It’s ridiculous that I’ve been following this more out of a sense of duty (and possibly fear), than love.
I don’t know why this has been extremely difficult to grasp. God calls us to love because he loves us. When I look at “God’s law” I think, “serving.” Serving makes me think of something you have to do. It’s not a want.
Where I am in my life right now, it’s a struggle between “want” and “have” When I have to do something, fear is always involved. When I want to do something, like sending a book, or music, or a poem, there is always love.
It’s what I see in Trisha, my mom, Megan, and all of the friends God’s given through my blog. There isn’t sigh, almost as if I’m a chore to, but a constant dusting off, saying, Let me show you how you are loved
And though I’m coming out of misbelief slow, I’m learning the joy of thank you.
The book may have taken a week to open, but I’m learning more without expecting a thing.