I was making dinner when it all unraveled. I had just lifted a bag of frozen potatoes from the freezer shelf when “CLUNK!” The shelf shifted, titled and finally slid toward me. I made a quick grab for the wire rack and something clattered to the base of the freezer unit.
“Not again!” I grumbled as I began to gather up the frozen food and ice packs that had been tumbled all over the place. This had happened once before, and I had had to resort to asking someone for help. But no one else was there that night, and I was on my own. I wasn’t about to call anyone since I was bound and determined to set things to rights as soon as I could.
I set everything on the floor beside me and made quick work of trying to put the wire shelf back in place. But it was a frustrating ordeal. You see, my visual impairment posed two factors that hindered an easy solution. First, a piece of the shelving was missing— the small connector that fit into the side of the rack and anchored it to the wall of the freezer. The little piece was white— the same color as the freezer unit. I fished my hand around each level, even taking food out of the bottom basket to see if it had fallen there.
Finally, I found the connector as I shifted forward on my hands and knees and encountered it just inches from my outstretched fingers. Finally! But now, how was I going to fit this little piece where it needed to go? Here I was presented with my second vision-related dilemma— not having an equilibrium. No matter how many times I shifted the wire rack and tried to get it latched into the appropriate groove, the other side would pop out and the whole thing would come crashing down again.
Finally, I took all of the food out of the top shelf so I could feel around the edges in order to understand how the thing was anchored in place. Once I felt I had memorized the position of how the pieces fit together, I moved back to tackling the disjointed middle shelf. In a matter of moments, I had it figured out. It took a few tries, but knowing which way the connector had to face made all the difference for me. I waited a few moments once the shelf was in place to make sure that it didn’t fall. Then with a sigh of relief, I ever so gently placed the food back on the shelf and closed the door.
Back to making dinner… finally!
If you think that sounds like quite the ordeal, then you would certainly be correct. It was just a freezer shelf, but with my limited vision, it was quite the challenge. Yes, I could have asked for help, but I was embarrassed. To ask for help would mean that I would have to admit that I couldn’t do something as simple as realign a wire rack. How dumb could I be, seriously?
So I suffered through it in stubborn pride, in many ways mirroring my response in other areas of my life. Our pastor just last week asked us to examine what was in our heart, and it pained me to come to the realization that there is a great deal of stubborn pride looming inside. I have always wanted to be self-sufficient, never needing anyone else. I don’t want to be a burden to others, so I seek to do all I can to complete a task before I ask for help.
As a result, this stubborn pride has kept others at a distance. I have no problem sharing my heart— communicating my hopes and dreams to dear friends— but when it comes to unburdening my heart in regards to a physical weakness, I often shut down. I don’t want to talk about needing a ride somewhere, asking for help because I can’t see the broken shards of glass from the mug I just shattered, or calling someone because the oven door hasn’t opened normally for a month all because there was a loose screw. I don’t want to admit my limitations, even though I can’t change the fact that they exist. I shouldn’t be embarrassed when I struggle with a task due to my visual impairment, but the truth is, a wall is immediately erected to barricade everything in place.
I don’t like to be vulnerable in my weaknesses in front of others, and interestingly, the same is true in my relationship with God. In the past few weeks and months, in particular, I have encountered a great deal of quiet time— quiet time that I could be investing in prayer and communication with my Savoir. But sometimes, the quiet was too unbearable. I was accustomed to hurried deadlines and rushing around, so I didn’t know what to do with the quiet. In many ways, I rebelled against those quiet moments. They were far too uncomfortable, and I didn’t need the isolation.
I could feel the Lord working in my heart, calling me back to a more balanced existence in relationship with Him. He was drawing me out of my harried and disorganized prayer life into more focused time in His presence, but I held back. I knew He knew my heart and there was no way I could hide from Him, but this renewed call to intimacy was difficult to embrace. I was reluctant to let Him into my mess; somehow I felt I had to have it all in order before I could let the intimacy be rekindled.
After all, there wasn’t a whole lot of order anywhere in my life. There were challenges in worship leading, strained relationships, and a nagging fear that I would never find that “thing” to replace Camp in my life. I was restless and desperate for hope, but I was terrified to dig deep to find it. As a result, I was unbalanced in many ways.
Much like the freezer rack, I wasn’t doing a very good job of holding anything up in place. The weight of my circumstances had caused my relationships with others and God to bend and finally come undone. There wasn’t anything to connect me to the source, and I had begun to flounder on my own.
As I had worked to fix the shelf, my freezer door had stood open, allowing the warm air to rush in. As a result, an icy glaze began to form over the food inside. It was kind of like the condition of my heart— hardened with a thick exterior in place. I needed to allow God to chisel that icy film away so I could find what truly mattered most— a deeper connection with Him.
It was time for me to wake up to the reality. I needed to open my heart to the workings of His Spirit so I could one day be able to open up to those around me. Only then would proper balance return. Just like the freezer needed to function properly in order to freeze the food, I needed to restore order to my prayer life to embrace closeness with Him. If I didn’t do something soon, I would have quite the stinky odor on my hands— thawing meat and a rotten attitude were not welcome in my kitchen.
So with the shelf in place and my heart crying out to God, I brushed off my jeans and got to my feet. My knees and feet were aching from their contact with the hard, tile floor, but I didn’t care. I knew that drawing close to God wasn’t going to be an easy process. He was going to chip away at my heart until I was open to receiving His love, and it wasn’t going to be a painless endeavor. My aching knees were a constant reminder of the heart-work that was yet to come. I was ready.