I recently spoke with a rather confident friend of mine who is in the midst of learning some thorough lessons about pride. The lessons were spurred on by a chapter in a book which had arrived in the mail in one of those unsuspecting packages, which, in retrospect, smack of the kind of providential coincidence I’m convinced God finds humor in.
He shared about one chapter in particular that dealt with sleep. It said that God could have chosen to create us to never need it. I mean, if He’d really wanted to, He could have crafted us to be awake 24 hrs a day. But it seemed like He just wanted us to know that we’re not Him. He who ‘never slumbers’–never needs to. That God uses those 8 hrs a night to convince us that we need to be restored and that He alone is the restorer. As each minute of nighttime ticks by, He’s saying that I am weak and that He is strong. He offers a daily reminder there is an infinite difference between us.
I heard what my friend said, wrote it down even. And then asked him to send me the chapter so I could read it. But if I’m honest, I’ll admit that the thought crossed my mind, ‘Whew. Poor guy having to learn those lesson’s about pride. Dutifully I read through half the chapter a little bit stalked by a sneaking suspicion that there was something in it I shouldn’t walk too quickly past, but didn’t really dedicate much more to it.
Then last night when I got home from an evening out with friends, I took off my shoes and noticed that my toenail polish was chipping.
I’ve been needing to repaint my toenails for a solid couple of weeks and have my current favorite bottle ready to go. The color of it is that perfect shade for me: dark but just a few shades lighter than the Goth colors of my youth. However since a trip a few weeks back on an airplane where it blew up a little, I haven’t been able to get the stupid thing open. I’ve tried everything. Hot water, cold water, rough towel, bare hands, hitting it with a knife (like you do with jars you can’t open), a pliers and still, it remains beautifully and hermetically sealed.
As the day wore on today, I looked down at my toes in my flip flops and thought, ‘that stupid bottle of nail polish. Maybe I just wasn’t applying the right amount of torque’. Frankly, I’m not really sure what torque means, but I know that boys say it. And I know that boys could probably open this bottle. And so I used it b/c it somehow made me feel a little closer to my goal.
I tried it again–the hot water, the rough towel, the banging of it on the counter and it remained unaffected. And as I put it harshly down on the kitchen counter I wondered why I didn’t just get in the car, drive to the store and spend the $7 bucks to buy another one. One that I could open and throw this mean little taunting bottle away. I could still win. But something about that impending victory felt something like defeat and I wasn’t willing to surrender.
As I walked out of the kitchen, I turned around to glare back at it and that’s when the lightening struck. I’m a 43 yr old single woman. I own a home. I live by myself. I’ve traveled all over the world. I own power tools and shovels and know how to check the air pressure in my tires. I bought a shop-vac that I use to kill bugs in my house that scare me. My life, through necessity, has slowly evolved into one of self-sufficiency. There are very few things I can’t do on my own, if I really wanted to. Point of fact, if it came down to it, I could move every piece of furniture in my house by myself–it might not be pretty or convenient, but I could do it. Because I’ve had to. There isn’t someone here to help so what do you do? You figure out how to cope. You figure out how to get things done. But somewhere along the line I think that self-sufficiency somehow became a lack of acknowledgement that I need to lean sometimes. And I think there might be a crucial difference between the two that I’m missing.
There are less than 8 people in my life–my whole life, not just in my city–that I would call if I needed help with something. Not just something big, something small. Not just the stuff that matters, but more the stuff that doesn’t. No one hesitates to show up in a crisis, but it’s the day-to-day that sometimes you can’t do alone. I don’t want to be needy. Don’t want to be a drain or inconvenient. Frankly, there’s just a certain amount of acceptance on what you can expect from your friends and what you can’t. There’s a certain amount of acceptance as a single woman about what you have to figure out on your own.
But then I couldn’t get my nail polish open and I suddenly had to deal with the fact that despite my protests and efforts, I need help with it. I can’t do it on my own. Passage of time won’t help, apparently newly discovered ways to assault said bottle won’t do it and all the while my toenail polish falls into a more severe state of disrepair by the day. What my “friend’s” lesson on pride taught me, was that I need someone bigger, someone stronger to open up my bottle of nail polish that is intent on keeping my toes unpainted. I need to lean. And it’s my pride that keeps me from doing it.
So I mentioned it to a local friend of mine tonight and he said he’d take a crack at it tomorrow–which both my toes and my heart appreciate. And maybe God is using this taunting little donkey of a bottle to teach me to look at myself and where I get my strength.
He’s whispering that what I need in my life, is someone bigger and someone stronger to hold me up. Even though I convince myself I can do it alone. And while I’m not as strong as I’d like to think, my God is. And where I come up short, He succeeds. And when I’m alone in my unassembled-furniture-chipping-nail-polish-life, He is standing nearby, brilliantly and craftily instructing and guiding and showing up. And who knew? Apparently I needed that.