Monday, March 5, 2018

Cowabunga, Dude!

For You formed my inward parts;You wove me in my mother’s womb.I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;Wonderful are Your works,And my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 139:13-14  NASB

Reed.  My precious, wonderful, creative, kindhearted son Reed.  He and Dom are off to Colorado for a week of skiing.

Remember Crush, the sea turtle from Finding Nemo?  That's my Reed, except he isn't really a surfer.  He just has that cowabunga, hang loose, no stress attitude.  The same hang loose attitude that allows him to walk into the house from the car -- through the snow and over the ice -- in bare feet.

Past experience told me that his version of packing would be to bring his dirty laundry home.  Not an unreasonable line of thinking.  After all, it should include all his favorite things to wear.  He surprised me this time though in having only two small loads of laundry.  He said his clean clothes were in a suitcase in his car.  I was definitely impressed.  Even surfer dudes grow up, eh?

So, yesterday, just an hour or so before they were supposed to leave for the airport he brought in the suitcase of clean clothes and unzipped it on the living room floor.  Honestly, it looked like he had taken a snow shovel to the floor of his bedroom and dumped all the clothes into the suitcase.  Either that, or he had been sleeping with the clothes for about a month.  There was a bed sheet in the mix.  I expressed my surprise and said, "Buddy, I think these all needed to be washed."

He said, "No, Mom, I'm fairly certain most of these are all clean."  And he proceeded to pick each item up one by one and smell it.  Including the underwear.

"Oh, buddy!  That's gross!"

He laughed.  "Only if you think about it, Mom."

So he picked out a few things that did need a wash and left the rest, confident that he had everything he needed for the trip.  I rushed dirty items into the washer and came back to fold and organize what was left in the suitcase.

He had a tall stack of hoodies and a tall stack of t-shirts.  Two pairs of underwear.  About 25 socks, of which there were maybe three matching pairs, and no long pants at all.  No jeans, no sweat pants, no lounge/pajama pants.

"Huh!" he said, mystified.  "I guess I didn't do such a great job of packing."  He was clearly puzzled as to how this strange imbalance could have occurred.  Unrattled, however, he went on playing with the cat.

I, on the other hand, was slightly rattled.  It was too late to run to Target to buy more underwear, so I ran up to his room to search out stray pairs left from his previous visits home or even his high school days.  I found a few, plus the dirty pair from the previous day left on the floor.  I ran them down to the washing machine, hoping they could catch at least the last few minutes of the wash cycle.  I rummaged through his dad's closet shelves looking for a pair of sweat pants that wouldn't fall off him.  Thankfully, he had worn a good pair of jeans home, so at least he had those.

Meanwhile, he had roused himself to search out a pair of ski pants to wear.  He concluded that he must have left his own pair at school, because they were nowhere to be found around the house.  He settled on a pair of women's pants he found that fit (amazingly, because he is a long-legged 6'1"), but they were only a shell, without insulation.  So, I was off again to search out some long underwear he could wear underneath.

I cannot tell you how much I love this kid.  My heart swells when I think of him.  But here's the thing:  it swells all the more with joy and love for him as I write this, recounting his foibles.  His weaknesses are very much a part of the glory that is Reed.  Somehow, mysteriously, his weaknesses are fundamentally, inextricably woven into his strengths, which are marvelous.

In many ways, Reed is a natural, easy-going version of his dad, except that Tom beats himself up over these sorts of things.  Tom fights it.  I tell him, "Tom, this is why God gave you me.  I am here to take care of everything you forget."  And I firmly believe that to be true.

I am delighted that Reed doesn't seem to beat himself up over the trivialities of life that escape him, like matching socks or the need for underwear.  My prayer for him is that God will give him a sweet Christian girl to marry who will understand and appreciate him -- and be willing to pack long pants for him -- without belittling him for not managing it himself. 

 Reed helps me to remember too how God's heart swells in the face of my weaknesses.  Sin, rebellion -- that's one thing.  But how often do I beat myself up for parts of myself that God created for His glory? How easily I gloss over my sin, excusing it shamefully, but spend time instead berating myself for parts of me that are intrinsic to the very person God created me to be for His glory?  I wish I were more charismatic.  I wish I could decorate.  I wish I were musical.  I wish I were funnier.  I wish I could dance.

No!  Let's stop this nonsense!  God made All Bark to be just what He intended All Bark to be.  All Bark is as perfect and precious in His eyes as Reed is in mine.  And just as I am happy to help Reed out in the bits of life he doesn't handle so well, so God generously helps me out in the bits I don't handle so well. 

Cowabunga, dude!  Let's play with the cat.

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