You know how everyone says God works in mysterious ways? For a lot of us, we don’t really know what that means exactly, because we’ve never personally experienced anything mysterious (except when I just know I put my phone on the kitchen table and now it’s nowhere to be found). Have you ever had a situation where God was not working mysteriously at all in your life? Where He was right there, right in front of you? You didn’t want to acknowledge Him though, because you didn’t like what He was telling you? My friend’s mom Bernadette had a God moment just like that, and He didn’t take no for an answer. And she sure was glad He didn’t because He changed her life.
Bernadette did not get along with a particular woman at church-she just didn’t. Bernadette had never had an out and out conflict with the woman, or any angry words spoken between them. She just didn’t like her. Bernadette reasoned that it was fine that she didn’t like this woman-they weren’t in the same Sunday School class, they sat on opposite sides of the church. They were in different social circles. This woman was really just a small irritation in her otherwise wonderful church experiences. I mean, we all have people we don’t exactly like, right? It’s not a big deal. And yet, apparently it was.
The women’s retreat was coming up and Bernadette was so excited. She was on the planning committee and was in charge of gift bags. Bernadette loved her committee members and she loved gift bags! This is going to be the absolute best retreat ever she thought. If only she had been in charge of Registration.
Bernadette excitedly clicked on her email with her retreat details and roommate assignment. Her excitement transformed into nausea. Oh yes-you know why. To Bernadette’s dismay, the woman who irritated her most on earth was her roommate for the retreat. God often just throws our sin right in our faces. Or, in this case, in our hotel rooms.
Bernadette’s mind raced. Should she call the Registrar, explain the situation, and ask for a transfer? No, the emails had already gone out so her roommate would know about the switch. Not to mention, every conversation she practiced always sounded the same-petty, hateful, and just plain sinful. No, she was going to have to suck it up and stick with the roommate she had. All the anticipation and joy she’d felt for the upcoming retreat vanished.
The Game that was the Gamechanger
Bernadette arrived at the retreat and quickly busied herself with her appointed duties and helping anyone and everyone she could find to ask. She was going to keep herself so busy that she couldn’t possibly spend time talking to her roommate. The retreat officially began and an icebreaking game was announced. Bernadette cozied up to her friends and started to relax. She just thought the Holy Spirit was taking a break as well.
Her roommate popped up beside her and asked if she could join the group for the icebreaker game. Of course everyone said yes-it’s a church retreat and it’s in the South. No one is going to be rude. Bernadette tensed a bit but thought to herself, it’s okay. I’m going to have to deal with this sooner or later. Let’s just get it over with!
For those of you unclear on what an icebreaker game is, let me explain. The purpose of the game is to help people get to know each other, relax, and feel more connected. The game breaks the ice by having participants ask questions about each other such as “Name Five Things you would take with you if you are stranded on a desert island?” or “If you had a magic wand, what would you change?” Not realistic but the answers tell a lot about each other.
As Bernadette began to play the game, she started to relax and not feel so awkward and uneasy. She found out her Frenemy/Roommate liked the same romance novels she did, disliked Chinese food just like her, and loved Butterfingers. Bernadette found herself maybe not disliking this person so much.
As the evening wound down and everyone drifted to their rooms, Bernadette found herself feeling awkward and uneasy again. She took a breath, said a prayer, and soldiered on. After all, she was at a church retreat-there was no room for critical and ugly thoughts.
The Way to a Woman’s Heart is Fuzzy Socks and Candy
Bernadette opened her room door and found her roommate’s belongings already laying on a bed. On the other bed she spied a gift bag-a different gift bag than the ones she had labored over the last four months. She curiously peeked into the bag and spied her favorite candy, a Diet Coke (her go to drink), some fuzzy socks, and a notebook with a pen. She was speechless.
The bathroom door opened and her Roommate stepped into the room (notice how I’ve dropped the Frenemy). “I did a little snooping and found out your favorite candy and drink. And I figured everyone can use fuzzy socks and a notebook at a women’s retreat.” She smiled nervously. To keep tears from welling up in her eyes, Bernadette glanced down at her roommate’s belongings.
She spotted a romance novel-the same novel she had brought to keep from having to talk to her roommate. Now the tears were impossible to hold back. It seemed God had grown tired of waiting for Bernadette to work on her hard heart. He had decided to put her into a situation where she found it impossible to ignore what He’d been telling her all along. This woman is one of His children too, and she needs grace and love and support. And chocolate and romance novels and fuzzy socks-just like Bernadette.
You might think this story ends with Bernadette and her roommate becoming fast friends, besties even. But no it doesn’t. It does end with Bernadette learning a hard lesson in grace and deciding that. Although they would never be the best of friends, she definitely now counted this woman as a friend and a sister in Christ. Isn’t that all God wants from His children? We don’t all have to be besties, but we should never be worsties either. Let’s all give each other more grace and less heartache, so God doesn’t have to force it on us!
I try to find lessons to learn in every story, but I feel pretty confident I don’t need to summarize here at the end. I think we all understand it pretty well. Now let’s go apply it.
Please comment and let me know your thoughts on this post. Have you ever had an In Your Face moment, courtesy of God?