Monday, January 27, 2014

Carrying what Matters

     I thought I’d remembered everything. At least I did remember the most important thing, which was my folder with the driving directions and the latest printed copy of my testimony. I had been in touch with a Celebrate Recovery at another church to go give my testimony last Thursday. As the week went by, I didn’t do a whole lot of fretting over it because I had been busy at work and at home. I had taken the time to read over the testimony, which can be painful in some parts. I actually fixed a word or two and printed it out in a big point font to be able to read it off a podium.  
     I left work at 5pm and went home to get my stuff and change my shoes. The family was there after a visit to the Palm Springs Air Museum. I had wanted to go, but wasn’t really able to get off of work. When I was getting my binder Nathaniel came up to me and gave me a rubber bracelet, the kind that lots of people wear for various causes and beliefs. This one said
Perseverance Against All Adversity    Tuskegee Airman
     I slipped the bracelet into my pocket and thanked Nathaniel. I told him I hoped to hear all about the museum the next day. I got in my truck and left.
     The drive was uneventful until I got to Colton and the street I wanted was a one-way. I had to drive farther, turn left twice and right once to get to my street. Thankfully, I had looked at the aerial map and knew what my destination looked like. I parked my truck in front of the church and went in. I was early but there were folks there who were happy to see me.
     When the ministry leader arrived, they had a pizza dinner and let me eat for free seeing as I was their guest speaker. Before the meeting started, we had a prayer and someone asked me if I was nervous. I wasn’t. I’ve read my testimony before and I don’t have a problem speaking in front of crowds. I understand that public speaking is a common fear, but I don’t have it. I would rather address a crowd of strangers than make a phone call or deal with a gaggle of ladies in charge of the church kitchen.
     The worship started. I was feeling alright, calm. I love worship music. Then my heart skipped. I thought of something that I didn’t have. My talisman. It was a little hair loop with wooden beads. I had found it in our flat in Budapest 17 years ago and for some reason, I had it in my pocket when I bungee-jumped in 1997. So I took it with me every time I read my testimony. And tonight, I didn’t have it. So I got nervous. I don’t believe in lucky charms. That’s what I told myself. But the truth is, I believe in comfort objects. I believe in token reminders of past achievements. I had had this thing in my pocket every time before, and I felt I really needed it this time too. But it was a dozen miles away tucked in a little box with other useless items, a torn-in-half dollar bill, a few cough drops, lots of little metal things I pick up when I’m vacuuming, and a roll of cherry Life-Savers that’s at least 5 years old.
     I was without my talisman. But I hadn’t forgotten what I did have in my pocket. I got out the bracelet from Nathaniel and pulled it over my left wrist. The sharp contrast softened as soon as I did and I relaxed. Everything was okay. I reached into my man-purse, pulled out a notebook and wrote the words: forgot my talisman, but any one will do for my next blog. I really did feel like it was all okay.    
     I was surprised at how my alarm had completely vanished. This proved that it isn’t what I carry in my pocket. The hair loop thing had been with me when I was courageous and it was a good reminder that I could step out in courage and share my story. But when I didn’t need courage, just assurance, I had that too. The little rubber bracelet was from a 10 year-old who has a heart as big as a bungee jump.
When I stood up to give my testimony, I took my eyeglasses off and could not make out the faces in the crowd. I could see my printed paper in front of me and I did feel nervous. I always forget that it does settle gently on me. But I felt the bracelet on my wrist and that is what I needed.
Maybe next time I give my testimony I should not have any reminder of anything with me. But I don’t know what that will prove. As long as I remember that when I share my story, it’s not for my glorification. I am sharing what Celebrate Recovery did for me as an encouragement to others. And I am sharing what God did for me and continues to do. Regardless of what I have in my pocket or around my wrist, I won’t be without what I am there to share.

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