I wasn’t an easy person to live with this past weekend. For various reasons – unmet expectations, miscommunication, fatigue, selfishness, and simply just being in a funk – I was a pretty big snot to my family. While I may’ve been “justified” in some of my feelings, my terrible emotional response was the furthest thing from Christ-like and certainly not something I am proud of.
Gonna be pretty honest here….I am grateful we’ve built a community where we can be. My motivation is always to share and show that I am a work in progress.
On Sunday, after my first tantrum, I went for a walk, pouring my heart out to the Lord. I was crying one minute and yelling the next. And I definitely did some yelling. After I got home from my walk, round 2 began and it ended with slammed doors and slammed hearts. The scripture about not letting the sun set on your anger – I didn’t obey it.
When the sun rose yesterday morning, the hurt, anger and pride were all still there. I didn’t pray on my way in, and I didn’t listen to scripture via YouVersion as I usually do. But – as typical – I confessed my sin to Dave and Bill as soon as I walked in the studio. I’m pretty good at spilling with them. They’re a captive audience. Because they have to be. Poor guys…
We do a planning meeting on Mondays at lunchtime, choosing a random local restaurant as our “off campus” office. Yesterday, the restaurant we chose had changed their hours, so we headed down the road to a place we’d never been before. We were finishing up our meeting, when Krispy and I had resorted to singing and “dancing” in the booth to the 70’s & 80’s music that was playing overhead.
That’s when I noticed Alan. (I didn’t know that was his name at the time.) At first glance, I could see Alan had a disability. It was clear his body moved involuntarily, but he grabbed my attention because he really seemed to be singing & dancing along with us, across the restaurant. I thought it was precious. We were the only ones still there, so I spoke over the dining room, telling him I saw him gettin’ down with us! I assumed (wrongly) the woman he was with was his caregiver, and after a few minutes, felt like she may’ve perceived I was making fun of Alan. I was mortified at even the thought, so I asked Krispy to let me out so I could walk over and make additional congenial conversation, in hopes of clearing any misconceptions.
And that’s when the Lord used Alan to give me the attitude adjustment I so desperately needed.
As I was walking over to the table, the beautiful – AND BUFF! – blonde woman Alan was with, was on the phone. Alan was so excited seeing me walk towards him. And in the interest of full disclosure, I have to tell you I assumed (wrongly!) that Alan was mentally challenged and probably had the capacity of a child.
I couldn’t have been MORE wrong. Seriously wrong.
When I reached the table, Alan, unable to speak, grabbed his iPhone and typed out “your Carmen from the Joy FM.”
He knew who I was.
My pathetic, selfish self.
I nodded and said, “yes, yes I am.”
He typed: “I recognized your laugh.”
I continued to nod and hold back the tears.
He went on: “y’all called my business’s name last year at share-a-thon.”
I grabbed his phone and typed: “what is your name?”
He typed back: “I can hear.”
I typed: “ok”
He typed again, “I can hear.”
I grabbed his phone again. And that’s when it sunk in! He can hear! I don’t have to type! We laughed.
He type-told me he listened to the station all the time, that he was a photographer, and that’d he’d love to come out and take pictures anytime for us.
I was stunned. I had so many emotions wash over me, especially shock that he wasn’t intellectually challenged at all! Mentally, he was just fine! I was also ashamed. Ashamed that he thought I was somebody I wasn’t. Somebody that I’m not. If he’d been privy to the last 48 hours, he would’ve seen a very different Carmen. Alan told me I had no idea how excited he was to meet me. Truth was, he had NO idea how happy I was to be meeting him! In those very moments, God was breaking my heart and bringing me back to center. There was such a purity in Alan, an innocence. He was so genuine with absolutely no pretense. It’s so humbling to meet folks who are clearly living to please the Lord, and not this world. And unlike me – so many days – living to please ourselves. God was gently lifting my eyes back up to what was most important in life, and that it was certainly NOT what I was so bent out of shape about over the weekend.
When Stephanie hung up the phone, I introduced myself. I asked, “…and you are?….”
Stephanie: “his wife.”
Stunned. Again! And more emotions mixed in…admiration. questions. humbled. But mainly just so deeply touched God would allow our paths to cross with these new friends. We spent the next 45 minutes visiting and getting to know one another. Stephanie had her laptop there and showed us Alan’s photography and video work. It was so great!! And then they told us about a ministry they’re involved in, Care 2 Tri, that helps disabled individuals do things they wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to do. Mainly, triathalons. (think Team Hoyt.) BTW, did I mention Stephanie was BUFF? Goodness gracious! She’s beautiful! It became obvious that she was equally beautiful on the inside. She and Alan have been married 17 years. Because of his genetic illness, Wilson’s Disease, Alan slurs his words making it nearly impossible to understand him. But Stephanie doesn’t miss a beat! She understands his language and speaks it fluently. She’s been a volunteer with Care 2 Tri for a while and is also on the Board of Directors. She’s currently training for her first event on May 26 (my anniversary, oh btw) in which she’ll pull a carriage so someone handicapped can participate in a 5K. They volunteer together, and Alan most recently took pictures at the St. Anthony’s event in St. Pete. What a team they are! And what sweet spirits they both have.
I got in my car and burst into tears. I was so grateful that this time God chose to “discipline” me with new friends who left me speechless. I repented for my selfishness and pride, praying sincerely, “Lord, help me decrease! And give me more of you, Jesus. Oh how I need You. Every hour I need You. And thank You that You are so merciful with me.”
As often is the case – or maybe it’s just because I’m in the music biz – I heard with new ears, a song I’ve been listening to for months. It’s Christy Nockels‘ “For your Splendor” on her new cd Into The Glorious.
here’s the line:
“Sometimes it’s hard to grow when everybody’s watching. To have your heart pruned by the one who knows best…
with my roots deep in You. I’ll grow the branch that bears the fruit….”
My heart needed some pruning. I am grateful our Father loves us enough to do it.
I walked in the back door. I saw Abbey first. Still crying, I told my youngest, “sometimes mommas need to apologize too.”
new friends, alan & stephanie