I was born with a target on my head with fine print next to it that says: "Teach me a lesson. A hard one, please."
God loves teaching me lessons.
Take for example the time that I learned about humility. After finishing a set of laundry back in college, I quickly threw on a pair of freshly washed and dried jeans, and ran out the door to church for confession. Out of the 6 churches having confession that night, I chose the most conservative one, which also looked like a cathedral inside. There was a rather long line of students waiting to receive the sacrament. We were packed together against the cold brick wall like sardines. As I was waiting patiently in my designated spot for over 45 minutes, it was finally time to inch forward. I allowed my neck to rest from its perpetual people-watching and looked downwards during a stretch. Something bright orange caught my eye.
Standing beneath me, about 2 1/2 people-lengths back, were a pair of my neon orange, green-floral printed, straight outta Victoria Secret, undergarments. Standing next to them was a crowd of conservative theology majors and pre-priests from my school. Awesome.
They had obviously fallen out of my pants-leg, since I'd washed them both together. Now to leave them there and pretend they don't belong to me? Or pick them up.
I swallowed my pride and picked them up. Ah, humility.
Then there was that lesson that I learned called balance. With a dose of humility.
While studying in Austria, we had a day to celebrate the feast of St. Therese. The school put together a fancy feast for us in the Mensa (our dining area). It was a 5-course luncheon that was delicious. The staff needed people to help serve. As they went around asking one student from each table, I buried my head in my notebook even further to try and persuade those choosing that I was in fact a studious person.
"Emily, I'd like you to serve the salads."
"But I've never been a waitre--"
"That's fine, it's easy, you can't mess it up." (Thanks for the death wish.)
So I went and found the first salad tray that I was supposed to deliver, complete with 9 plates of already-dressed fresh lettuce. I delivered the first to the safest table: the nerdy studiers. I knew that they would not even look up and acknowledge me so my lack of waiting experience would go unnoticed. *Whew!*
The next table were the "God Bless You Sister-in-Christ"ers. They were busy giving each other back rubs and saying "Bless You Sister" to notice my clumsiness either. 2 tables down.
I decided that the cool people, the "jock" table would just have to come last. I needed to get down as much experience as I could before meandering to that table. By the time that table came though, my left arm was going numb from holding a tray above my head for so long.
"Hey guys, here's the salads! Yeah, can't wait for that philosophy test later on, huh?" I managed to squeak out. Yes! This was working, I was looking cool!
I got about 3/4 of the way passing the salads down the table. I thought it'd be easy to stand at one end and just have people pass them down. As I was standing, stunning the crowd with my one-liners, I kept hearing a "uhh, excuse me" from somewhere, but it was much too faint to make out. Besides, I was in the middle of cracking a good one about our professor.
"Excuse me" I heard it again. I looked over to where the voice was coming from. It was the pre-med, jockiest-jock boy to my right.
"Excuse me, you're dripping, the uhh..." I looked down. Ohmygosh. The Italian dressing from all previously-served salads had dripped onto the tray. And the 45-degree angle that I was now holding the tray at was not keeping that dripped dressing on. There was a giant, big wet Italian-dressing stain in the lap of this boy. On his white khakis.
Balance, with a side of humility, please.
(I avoided that boy for the rest of the semester, until I finally mustered up the courage to beg for forgiveness and the chance to give him money for the pants. He accepted the apology, but not the money.)
It really should have been no surprise for me that a new lesson was about due. I mean, I hadn't had one since I fell out of the reception hall on our wedding day, during the sparklers send-off. Thank God we had a hired photographer. We've got that one to remember forever!
Early this week, I learned a new lesson. Vanity. Rather, not to be vain.
On our way home from paradise, we stopped at a hotel mid-way. It was midnight, my husband and I were both drained from the road, and our puppies needed a break from being squished in the back of a prius. We pulled off a few different exits and checked-out various hotels before settling on the brightest, closest-to-highway one. It looked safe.
We took a few things out of the car, checked in, and fell right asleep on the cardboard beds. We slept for a few hours before the dogs woke us up, ready to go. It was pouring rain, so we thought it'd be best to head out early. Jim ran one dog to the car and said he'd be back to get the other.
He came back after about 10 minutes. White as a ghost.
"Someone broke into our car."
And what did they take? The valuables? The registration?
"Your suitcase. I'm going to go call the police."
We had a shattered window, a car full of glass and water, and I was now clothes-less.
My clothes are gone! That was the suitcase with only my nicest clothes in it! My favorite pajamas that they don't sell anymore! Those tops that I bought for our honeymoon! My shorts, that are impossible to find in that size these days! My hairdryer, straightening iron!!!
They were gone. For good. The cop passively remarked "Sonufagun! Only one break in last night! A new record!"
"Can you dust for fingerprints? I mean, that straightening iron was a Chi..."
"Nah- but whut I can do for ya is write-up a report so ya can have a copy!"
"Thanks. But my JanDor shirts from the 80s--"
"Well, I gotta run, have a good rest of the day, at least!"
So there we were, in nowhere PA, windowless, a clothesless wife, in the pouring rain.
We somehow managed to get home by evening and get the window fixed the next day. But my clothes! Anyone who is built like me knows how hard it is to have to shop in children's sizes, while looking for adult's styles. All I could think about was my clothes. Each piece.
It took a few days, but I finally realized that they were just clothes. I mean, they are replaceable, I guess. Sort of. What really matters is that no one was hurt, right? This means I get to go shopping now.
I just thank God that the neon-orange underwear was tucked safe away at home.