Wednesday, September 15, 2010

choosing a sometimes extravagant and ridiculous life

When I think about how I got my new (to me) queen-sized bed, the word "extravagance" comes to mind.  I'd always slept on a twin; the one I most recently had I bought used 16 years ago.  The dogs liked to sleep on it too, which I didn't mind, except there wasn't enough room for all 3 of us.  So I decided it was time to buy a big-girl bed.  I mentioned this off-handedly to a friend of mine, who said she knew a couple that were giving away their spare queen bed.  I happily took it.  I believe God had a hand in giving me that bed, and it was an extravagant gift, both from God and the couple.  They gave me numerous bedding items along with the bed, and everything was in pristine shape.  A few weeks after I got the bed, the dogs had chewed up 2 sheets, 2 pillow slipcovers, 1 blanket, and the comforter.  Everything but the comforter is beyond help, except for use as rags.  I did my own share of "damage" - one of the pillows and pillow cases has a bunch of pen marks on it from my doing puzzles before I go to sleep.  I looked at all this damage once, and thought how sad it was that the bed that had been taken care of so well was now a mess.  Then I realized, or God showed me, that he knew very well what kind of home this bed was going to and what kind of terrors it would endure.  And I got, was given, the bed anyway.  I saw it as a marvelous extravagance on God's part - not only did I not really need a new bed, I certainly didn't need such a nice one.  I didn't even pray for one; I viewed getting a new bed the same way I get shampoo or gasoline - it's just something you do in life.  But God butted in and revealed his presence and gave to me lavishly and unexpectedly.  I don't know why he did, but I am thankful for it.

At the end of this month I am moving in with my aunt and uncle.  I am giving away and selling most of everything I own - I have a strong desire for simplicity in this area.  I think I will even give away the bed and go back to a twin-size to save space.  It seems ridiculous, extravagant, to give it up.  It also seems like the obvious choice - God & the couple gave it to me, now I'm done with it and am passing it along - this is the way I think we should handle most of our stuff, maybe all of it.  The bed never was strictly mine, I just used it for a while.

I am making some choices this month that seem to make no rational sense:  giving away a lot of things (won't I need them again someday?), giving up the dogs (isn't that a bit extreme?), postponing further training in tutoring (don't I need this info. for my current students?), postponing tutoring itself until I've moved and life has settled down a bit (why can't you handle 2 hours a week?  don't you need the money?), and moving in with family (are you nuts?!  you love living alone and haven't shared space with anyone since 1991!).  I don't know if these are good or bad or neutral decisions; I can't understand my situation anymore.  And I think that's exactly what God wants - I've relied too much on rational thought in the past.  Now I consider options and make decisions based on what Catholics (and probably others) call a sense of consolation or desolation - I sense if this is the way to move forward or not, I move forward when it seems right, and I have no idea what will happen next.  It's sort of like jumping out of a plane without a parachute, knowing that something else will work out, but you don't know what that is.  Once you're done screaming and throwing up and pinwheeling your arms and legs, it's actually fun and freeing.  And you get to be surprised, to learn something new, grow, and watch how God takes care of you.

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