I took a break over the weekend from writing these December Devotion posts, because, well, I am human.
And humans need regular breaks from things. Like work. And projects. And other people.
Breaks are good. You could say this is the overarching, reoccurring lesson of my life. From my Big Depression in university in 2007, to just managing the day-to-day needs of human life, breaks are good is something I forget about with alarming frequency. And then, remember, more often than I used to. So at least, I'm learning, somewhat.
And again, I'm human, so that's the best we can do, I think. To learn, somewhat, as we go through this life business.
The weekend was, among other things, an opportunity to re-learn that phrase, "Man plans, God laughs." It was the staff Christmas party at my work. My boyfriend Adam really does not like going out to social events like that, where he's totally out of his comfort zone. You could call him an introvert, you could call him socially anxious, although he doesn't call himself those things. He just says, "No," when I ask him to come out to things. So anyway, I'd been asking him for weeks if he would come with me to this. He's never met my co-workers, and I've been there for a year and a half now. I really wanted him to come. He kept saying, "We'll see," and "I really don't want to go."
"I know," I'd say, "But just this once?"
"We'll see," he'd say.
The night before the party, I asked him to commit. I got upset. I said, "I hate going to these things alone," which is partially true. It's also not: I don't super mind.
We fought. He said, "I've told you all along I don't want to go!"
"Yes, but you also said, 'we'll see'!" I said.
And back and forth like that for a while.
Anyway, long story short, in the end he came with me. But I had had it in my head that we would have this wonderful, date-night-like, sparkly, glamorous evening, where I would look fabulous and we would be in our best couple-shape: cozy, intimate, witty, in love.
And, I had decided to try and do this vintage style with my hair. But my hair wouldn't take the curl, and I'm only very new to using a curling iron anyway.
That afternoon, when I still wasn't sure Adam was coming (even though he had said he would), and my hair wasn't doing what I had wanted it to, I got frustrated as heck, and went for a long walk in the field and woods near our house. I cried. I texted my friend and ranted to her about why life was so unfair at this particular moment. I took some pictures. I cried a bit more. And I realized, I needed to just go with it. So what if I my hair wasn't pin-up-worthy. So what if Adam was grumpy with me, and me with him.
In the end, it was what it was. Adam was there in protest, but he still got along and made jokes with the people we sat with. I looked perfectly fine, even if I didn't achieve my pin-up hair goals. I said a few awkward things, but let's be honest, I probably would have said them anyway. We ate our stuffed chicken breasts, potatoes with gravy, corn, carrots and turnip, and laughed at other people's jokes, and then we left before the dance started. We went home, got in our PJs, and watched hockey (him) and "Gilmore Girls" (me) on the couch, while our cat snoozed on our legs. And it was good.
Anne Lamott wrote, in "Travelling Mercies," which I am reading these days, in a story where her little boy doesn't get to swim out to see some seals, as he was hoping,
"I was desperate to fix him, fix the situation, make everything happy again, and then I remembered this basic religious principle that God isn't there to take away our suffering or our pain, but to fill it with his or her presence."
And I think that's what devotion is about, and what this weekend taught me about devotion. Devotion to a moment, staying devoted to your situation, even when it's not what you thought it would be. Looking for the presence of God in it, anyway.