“Stand in line. Take a number.” Those six words pressed in on me for four straight hours two Mondays ago while I sat in awkward silence waiting to for my number to be called at the Department of Motor Vehicles office. You know the scene . It’s a total throwback from the first Stars Wars movie release when Luke, Han, Chewy, Lea, R2D2 and C3PO are trapped and about to be crushed in the trash compactor. There was nothing I could do but sit and wait. It was a helpless and frustrating venture that I am ashamed to admit was nothing short of soul crushing.
How did I cope? Like I do in most distressful situations. I relied on old friends. Maybe you know some of these very same characters. They have served me well through the years. Muttering under my breath. Poignantly timed sarcasm. Deep audible guttural sighs signifying to everyone my strong and obvious disapproval. Pacing. Checking my email every few minutes. Checking my Twitter feed. People watching. Judging others.
There was even a mocking poster on the wall of the waiting area that read, “You think this is a long wait? Try waiting for an organ.” So I sat there even more taunted by the shaming paper message that hovered above my head.
To top it off, when number was called I finally stood at the counter only to notice a woman who had only been waiting less than 30 minutes standing next to me at the adjacent counter being served quickly walking off several minutes before me. I could not believe the injustice of the entire experience.
On the ride home I made the comment to my wife (who sat quietly through the entire experience), “So, what did you do while were were sitting there in that misery?” She genuinely responded, “I texted a couple friends, did my devotion, prayed some and spent some much needed time with the Lord.” Ouch. There I sat in our car at the red light…exposed. She did not even need to ask how I had spent the time. She already knew because (a) she was sitting next to me and (b) she knows that “grumbling” is sadly is one of my default modes.
Since that day I have found myself reflecting on some of the ways that I responded. I have even imagined my thoughts and actions being video taped and displayed to my children or my neighbors. How I long for my first response to be more God centered than self. How much different might that day have been if I had leaned in to our Heavenly Father’s rest? To dive into communion with Him with eyes wide open to see His generous and providential hand in those moments. This would be my desire. Or…at least I desire for this to be my desire.
So I will thank God for the opportunity to be exposed. To hear my Heavenly Father inviting me to take up residence in Him irregardless of my previous misbehavior. It is there in that embrace that the Father can, again, remind my heart that He is good and has made Himself available to me. Thank God there is no shame or condemnation when I am resting there.