I loaded up in my car with a gift card given to me at christmas by my parents and set out for IKEA to select and purchase a place for stories to be told.
Everyone rants and raves about the amazingness that is IKEA. What they don’t tell you is that it is the worlds largest maze. Created to turn you into a mouse purely for their entertainment. Scores of people wandering aimlessly through aisles. Most searching for a place to welcome guests, or tuck their children in at night, or the comfort of a nice throw, or maybe they are just searching…for the way out.
I laugh when I am nervous. Or uncomfortable. Not necessarily because I find it funny…I just don’t know what else to do. It’s my default. My downshift. So when I walked into that dark makeshift bedroom for the fourth time, I laughed. Out loud. Like a moron. I was trapped. I could not, for the life of me, find a way out of that horrible nightmare.
I asked, almost pleaded, with a sales woman…
“Please, ma’am, tell me that I am getting close to the exit…”
“Yea, just go around that corner.”
At this point my laughter is ceasing and the tears are welling in my eyes. I had just spent WAY too much time deciding on a desk and now I just wanted to get it and leave. The way it works is this – you don’t just get to pick out what you want, put it in your basket and leave. You have to write down an item number, an aisle number, and a bin number. Then once you make it out of maze #1, it’s on to maze #2. The home goods – where everything is breakable and you are at the point where you just want to break everything.
I finally make it to the “Room of Towering Shelves”. (It’s not really called that, I picked that name out.) 26 aisles of home furnishing. 26. Three stories tall.
So I had it picked out. Get it and go.
“Oh, we’re out of that”
The man walked away. I sat down. Sobbing.
Not because they didn’t have it. That was just an extra kick in the throat.
I sat there for one hour. Crying. Trouble breathing. Chest burning and heaving.
I could not will myself off of that floor. I could not convince myself that I didn’t have to buy a desk today. There was no reasoning with me.
“Get up and find the exit sign.” My phone buzzed.
Simple. No cliche. No “just trust God”.
Just a simple “lets take one thing at a time and right now lets get up off the floor.”
I didn’t buy a desk today.
[But here I am…wondering where to find Jesus in this shit hole of a day. It wasn’t just the panic attack. It was that. And it was feeling unloved, unwelcome, unheard, unimportant…a project…by people who claim to love Jesus and be his church. It was walking into my shower hoping to rinse off the weight of today…hoping it would calm me down, help me breathe, and rest…only to slip, fall, and hit my back and head.
Where do I find Jesus in all of that mess…
Maybe I find him in the message that says “Get up. Find the exit sign.”
Maybe I find him in the text message from my nephew that says “I love you, Aunt Ali.” or the one from a friend letting me know they are praying for me.
Maybe I find him in the phone call from women I have never met, being the living breathing Church of God, asking to pray over me.
Maybe He wasn’t so far after all.
And he promises tomorrow he won’t be far either.]