As I’m writing this, it’s the morning of Thanksgiving here in Dresden, Germany…only it’s not. My neighbors are starting to walk to their cars and drive off to work. The city is waking up to another normal workday, and for all intents and purposes, so am I. Although if there’s one thing I’ve learned the past couple weeks, it’s that “normal” is quite the relative term.
Here in Germany, for example, normal is not an apartment with a pre-installed kitchen, but rather without one, affording the happy new tenants the exciting options of a.) searching online for a used kitchen that could be creatively pieced together and inserted into the available space like a puzzle, or b.) of heading over to the local IKEA and picking out a kitchen that fits perfectly into that space but will be delivered at a later date. It’s just one tiny extra step in the whole moving-in process. No biggie.
I was expecting to go shopping for a kitchen on one very normal Thursday several weeks ago, but as I was driving in a large van down a familiar street I ended up sideswiping a car, which was parked in a very un-normal fashion. And not just any car, mind you--it was a shiny, silver BMW. I realize that is a very “female” way of describing a car, but it’s all the information I have about it, fellas. Either way, that little incident ate up the rest of my day with waiting around for the owner to come back, and calling and waiting for police and chatting with insurance companies. My normal planned Thursday became quite the opposite and my plans of purchasing a kitchen got put on hold.
Last week, however, after searching online for a used “puzzle” kitchen with no success, I finally bit the bullet and went to IKEA. After plugging all the measurements into their computer, I ordered the kitchen I wanted and did a little happy dance (on the inside, of course) when they told me it would be delivered the following week, which was this past Monday. Buy kitchen…check.
It was a pretty normal delivery on Monday. The delivery guys came exactly in the time frame that they said they would, between 7:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., and after about 20 minutes, my living room was filled with piles of IKEA boxes all patiently awaiting assembly. However, normal turned a corner when I realized that they had failed to include the stove and oven. :::sigh::: Let’s just say, I learned a couple new songs that day (the only two songs playing on repeat) while I was on hold and trying to get through to someone at IKEA who could help me find my missing appliances. They promised to deliver them on Tuesday…and Wednesday…and today. And on each of those days, I have had the chance to rehearse the two songs I learned on Monday. I’m wondering if the oven even exists. Not so normal delivery after all.
And today is Thanksgiving. Most people don’t realize that here, but that’s ok. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but this year it’s probably going to be the most un-Thanksgiving-like Thanksgiving that I’ve had in a while. Carpenter Joe is coming back this afternoon to finish installing my kitchen. And I don’t have Internet yet in my apartment (that’s a whole other story about a normal appointment with the internet guy…as normal goes, anyway), so I’m not able to connect with my family and friends like I would normally be able to. But all that’s actually ok, too.
I woke up this morning realizing that this would be my reality today, and immediately the temptation was to feel sorry for myself. But the grace and tenderness of God toward me is great. And very gently He reminds me that one does not need to have turkey and stuffing, or a kitchen, or Internet or the physical presence of family and friends to be overwhelmed with gratefulness for what one does have. And that I am.
Backstage from all the crazy that’s been going on in my world (I really didn’t mention the half), the Lord has been very intentionally reminding me of His incredible work and healing in my life. He has re-written the definition of “normal” for me. He has completely changed the trajectory of my life, my desires, and my longings. He has healed me in ways that I never thought possible. He has given me a freedom of which I had only dreamed. And for that I am grateful beyond my ability to even express how grateful I really am. It is the most un-Thanksgiving-like Thanksgiving that I have had, and yet, I am the most thankful that I have ever been. That is the very good work of a very good God in the life of one very needy soul.
And on top of all this incredible work in me that He has done, He keeps doing little things, too, like providing me with a kitchen and very skilled carpenter to install it…for which I am, oh, so grateful.
Perhaps next year, I’ll cook a turkey in my new oven. (Not normal, by the way).