Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18
It’s been a while, friends, but it’s good to be back. Before I get into this post, I want to say (1) sorry it’s been so long; there’s been lots going on, but I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things (2) if you have any requests for topics and things, send them my way! (3) Mom, please don’t read this one. There’ll be a new post up later this week that you’ll like more.
Alright, so my worst night in NYC. This was a couple of months ago (time flies, fam, it really does), I had failed a certification exam (retook it since then and got it, huzzah!), and so my coworkers and I were really disappointed in ourselves. We had studied hard and studied right, and were discouraged that it wasn’t enough. So they went out, and because that’s not my scene, I took myself to see a musical. Which of course only made me more emotional (How did she belt that note? Is this a tap number?? Give me all the harmonies!! Yessss A+ lighting queues! Oh man he loves her so much??), and I left the theater with half the mascara I went in with. And right when I got on my subway to go back to Brooklyn, I realized: my apartment keys were still in my desk at work.
I’d worn heels to work that day, and they were sensible (low and thick) shoes, but heels nonetheless. Also I hadn’t slept much that week, in preparation for the aforementioned certification exam, so was just all levels of exhausted.
Cut to the Brooklyn-bound subway, 11pm on a weeknight. My roommate wasn’t answering her phone, and all other friends were asleep or out of town No hotels in the city were available for less than $600 because it was Fashion Week, and my apartment was in such a residential area that there aren’t hotels. Oh, and there was a concert at Barclays center that night, so most everything in Brooklyn was sold out too.
As I was sitting on the train, the ridiculousness and severity (there’s a juxtaposition for ya) of the situation sank in – I didn’t have a place to sleep tonight. That’s when a middle-aged man came over and started talking to me. He saw my playbill and, wouldn’t you know it, he considered himself a patron of the arts. Not musicals though, too mainstream. Oh no. He was really into a one-man puppeteer show about pirates, on the futility of the American Dream. I kid you not. You seem like a nice girl, I could probably get two tickets if you want to go? What stop are you getting off at anyways?
Maybe he really was just a kind old man with a heart for ventriloquism. But I was emotionally frazzled, physically done, and knew I didn’t have a door I could lock behind me that night; I got off at the next stop, ran two cars down, and hid in the middle of a group of business bros.
I knew better than to go back to my neighborhood, and wanted to stay where people were still bustling around. Cut to me walking through downtown Brooklyn, 12:30 at night, 17% battery on my phone, almost rolling my ankles because the crosswalks are so full of potholes, calling every hotel I can find within 2 miles, asking if they have any vacancies. I physically walked into three hotels, only to be turned away.
Around 1am, I finally found a hotel, booked myself a room (thank you, no, I don’t want a hot breakfast…no I’m sure it’s lovely…), dragged myself upstairs, took a shower, and crawled into bed. But I couldn’t sleep. I was too upset with God.
Why couldn’t you remind me to grab my keys? Why couldn’t you wake up my roommate or a friend? Why couldn’t you have made room at a hotel that doesn’t cost a quarter of my paycheck? Why couldn’t you have kept the man away from me on the subway? Why did I go alone to, what felt like, Couples Night on Broadway, literally surrounded by adorable couples? So many bad things could’ve happened tonight; why didn’t you help me??
Once I said that out loud, I stopped. Because, yes, it had been a rough night. But truly, so many things could’ve gone much worse.
In everything give thanks.
For my tired feet? For this crazy bill? For the fact that I’m in a dress I’ve worn all day, don’t have anything to sleep in, and will have to somehow find a change of clothes before work tomorrow? For men on subways who don’t understand that you’re uncomfortable?
In everything give thanks.
For realizing that there really are only a handful of people in this enormous city that truly care about where I am? For sitting in the middle of seven (best believe, I counted) couples watching a show together? For how alone I feel?
In everything give thanks.
And as I thought about my complaints, I started to see them differently.
My feet are tired because I have the gift of being able to walk. My toes are pinched because I’m blessed to have shoes to cover them. My bill is outrageous, but I have a job that will make it okay. The man on the subway didn’t follow or hurt me, as well he could’ve. For all the people that I don’t know here, I have friends and family across other states that are right now praying for me. For the loneliness I feel when I look at others, God’s using that to say ‘let me be enough’.
I fell asleep then.
Guys, we have such a clear picture of how God should be at work in our lives. We see what He isn’t doing, and just forget of the mountains of things He is doing. He wakes me up, He draws my breath, He stops cars as I cross the street. God does not react to my life, trying to patch up what He can when things go wrong. He is actively defending my life, being proactive in my safety, shielding me from evils I can’t imagine. And when I get creeped out, or stressed, or am emotionally bankrupt, it’s not because He’s had an off day. When will I understand that the things that happen in this world that aren’t great or even good, that those aren’t from Him? He who loves me would never want me to hurt, but in this world, we will have sorrow. There will be failed tests and weird men on subways, and rooms that cost more than we like. But also doors to lock, crowds to keep you safe, friends who check in on you the next day. There will always be something to complain about, and there will always be something to give thanks about. So rejoice.