Thursday, November 3, 2011

Feeling Stupid



Pumpkins in the Poznan City Square
I can feel so stupid, sometimes--not just ignorant, but completely void of good judgment and good sense.  Does that ever happen to you?  The thing that gets me is how quickly this problem arises, even after I have made preparations, studied, or whatever else.

For instance, nearly two weeks ago, I was ready to take my first trip to Poland to study up on a coffee house ministry I want to try here in Sweden.

The day had been more chaotic than expected because our container came in and was being delivered to the place we'll move into and needed to be emptied within two hours.  But there were issues for driving our car out of the container and onto Swedish soil (the strangest feeling--our U.S. car of 5 years on Swedish soil--it was like time travel), offices to find and visit before unloading, etc.

By the time Phil drove me to the train station, we were sore and already exhausted.  The train station was new enough to us that we had trouble finding a good drop-off place.  We eventually found the station entrance and Phil left me at the curb, pack on my back and rolling suitcase in hand.

Enter:  My feeling of stupidity.   Where did one purchase a one-way ticket? I wondered, after taking only a few steps away from the car.  I approached the railing overlooking the train tracks to get some clue which track I needed and where to purchase a ticket.  I heard Phil yell behind me, "What are you looking for?"

I told him I didn't know where to buy a ticket.  He assured me there would be a kiosk down by the tracks, "I promise," he said.  He usually knows these city things, so I hauled my suitcase down two long flights of cement stairs to the tracks.  As I reached the platform, I could sense someone else on the stairs above me, so I acted confident walking away down the tracks.

Sure enough, there were bus ticket kiosks and garbage stands the same design, but no place to buy a train ticket.  I kept moving up the tracks and sensing that someone was behind me, following as if a shadow.  I finally glanced back only to discover Phil standing there, no coat in the wind whipping through the terminal, arms crossed, having followed behind me to see that I found what I needed before the train arrived.  He had been trying to leave this adventure to me.

He was also surprised there had been no ticket kiosk, yet.  Together we found it, almost at the end of the station.  He left as soon as he saw that I could buy the ticket.

I couldn't have been happier to see Phil--to know he is there for me like that sometimes.  Who knows how often he has been there without my knowing.  The rest of the trip worked without a hitch.  I even got home by plane, train, bus and on foot a few days later without Phil's help.

It reminds me of this old song, "Clumsy," by Chris Rice.  You might be able to pull the song up on the web, but I've posted the lyrics, here, and will tell you another of my "feeling stupid" episodes at the end of the lyrics.  Think of Jesus' disciple, Peter, and of me, another clumsy disciple.
 
You think I’d have it down by now
Been practicin’ for thirty years
I should have walked a thousand miles
So what am I still doin’ here
Reachin’ out for that same old piece of forbidden fruit
I slip and fall and I knock my halo loose
Somebody tell me what’s a boy supposed to do?

I get so clumsy
I get so foolish
I get so stupid
And then I feel so useless
But You’re sayin’ You love me
And You’re still gonna hold me
And that You wanna be near me
‘Cause You’re makin’ me holy
You’re still makin’ me holy, yeah

I’m gonna get it right this time
I’ll be strong and I’ll make You proud
I’ve prayed that prayer a thousand times
But the rooster crows and my tears roll down (again)
Then You remind me You made me from the dust
Find More lyrics at www.sweetslyrics.com
And I can never, no never, be good enough
And that You’re not gonna let that come between us

I get so clumsy
I get so foolish
I get so stupid
And then I feel so useless
But You’re sayin’ You love me
And You’re still gonna hold me
And that You wanna be near me
‘Cause You’re makin’ me holy
You’re still makin’ me holy, yeah

From where I stand
Your holiness is up so high I can never reach it
My only hope is to fall on Jesus


I get so clumsy
I get so foolish
I get so stupid
And then I feel so useless
But You’re sayin’ You love me
And You’re still gonna hold me
And that You wanna be near me
‘Cause You’re makin’ me holy
You’re still makin’ me holy, yeah


Feeling stupid episode number 2:  It was the day after I had returned from Poland.  I was even more tired because everything had happened late at night, too early in the morning or loud as hostels are in the middle of the night on weekends.  It was time for my Swedish lesson, which I forced myself to attend though my brain felt like mush.  Every movement felt slow and exaggerated.

I arrived at the place and couldn't fit the car in the free parking spot I found, so had to find a place in the paid parking.  I decided to back in for easy driving away afterward.  I carefully put the key fob (to a Mercedes station wagon rental) in one section of my purse, and my smart phone in another.  I grabbed my purse and school bag and went out to buy a parking slip.  Back at the car, I placed my stuff on the hood of the car because it had been difficult to drag all that stuff between the door and the hedges.  In the time it took me to open the car door and reach in to set the slip on the dash, a man in a hooded black coat walked casually up, took my purse, walked to his bike, set my purse in the bike basket and rode away.

Two things went through my mind even as I tried to figure out if I should chase him or just kick myself for being so stupid:  "The Lord is my helper, what can man do to me?*" and "Stupid, stupid, stupid!" even as I chased and yelled after the man to come back (as if!).

Of course, I went to my Swedish teacher's place, winded and full of alarm, to get help.  The remainder of the day was spent calling police, looking around in the hedges for a discarded purse (no luck), waiting with the unlocked rental car, no key, talking to police, waiting for the tow truck, and watching even the car I had driven in with drive away.

It was difficult not to take this scripture out of context, "For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them" (Matthew 25: 29). Because my identification, license, money, cards, phone and contacts, and now car all vanished within one tiresome morning.


After the car left, we had as much of a Swedish lesson as I could stand.  Then my teacher and her husband (dear friends from our church in Malmo) took me to Hunter's school so I could meet him and go home with him on the bus.


I've learned some things:


1.  Don't leave your purse on the car hood, even for a second.

2.  The advice, "don't keep all your eggs in one basket," works for stuff in a purse as well as Wall Street stocks and chicken eggs.

3.  It's good to have friends to help in times of trouble. (It was a bright, beautiful fall-color day).

4.  The mind has trouble turning off the re-play of awful events so that fear can take up residence in an otherwise adventuresome mind.

5.  All that stuff is just stuff.  But I let my mind sometimes believe that I am what is in my purse, so that it takes something like this to figure out who I am when there's nothing left.

6. That forgiveness is absolutely the only way to peace and sanity, even if I have to forgive every moment of the day until the pain stops hurting so badly.

7.  Now I feel even more deeply for those who have had to leave so much more--who have had so much more ripped from their arms.

8.  What I have should be shared, because keeping or hoarding stuff guarantees absolutely nothing.


I'm back to working on getting more sleep as well as wisdom!  Wish me well as I do you!


I get so clumsy
I get so foolish
I get so stupid
And then I feel so useless
But You’re sayin’ You love me
And You’re still gonna hold me
And that You wanna be near me
‘Cause You’re makin’ me holy
You’re still makin’ me holy.


*"So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?'"  Hebrews 13:6 Psalm 118:6,7