I confess, I left last Thursday to attend a conference, certain I would learn little.
I am pretty good at this gig, I assured myself. I just signed with Harvest House, I have a growing Facebook community, whom I adore, and I LOVE to blog. And I went into blogging kicking and screaming. Alas, it has been an outstanding blessing. Stuff I said I would never do, stuff I said was cliché and silly – somehow made me who God intended me to be. And if I hadn’t been teachable, I would have missed out on opportunities I couldn’t have imagined.
Still, it is my nature. I want a list. When I have completed the list, I want to walk into the blue yonder smarter, more confident and move onto the next thing. I credit myself with being teachable, but I know this isn’t true. So in this instance, I knew I would have to make things happen at the conference, I knew everything I could possibly need to know.
I was confident that I would network and hob knob with some old and new friends, but I hardly needed to be taught anything. And as the conference opened with the theme PRESENCE, I fidgeted and tried to listen.
And I barely heard, “Jami, you don’t listen.”
ME? I do too listen! I scanned the table looking for other Jami-es, thinking perhaps I heard someone else’s message from the Great Beyond.
“Nope. You don’t listen and you are not fully present.”
Offended, I leaned in to listen harder. And the more the conference went on, the more I was faced with the truth.
I don’t listen.
Alone in my hotel room, I prayed, “I want to listen. I want to be present. Show me my folly.”
Listen when I say this to you friends; don’t pray this. Seriously. Just print out this blog and take my word for it.
But, at the time I was fully prepared for Him to show me. The next morning, I started off by not listening to Siri and I got lost on the way to the conference. I stopped and asked for directions to the church, but I wasn’t fully present for the directions and I stayed lost for over 45 minutes. At the conference, a familiar voice said, “You’re getting a migraine, find Advil.” But, I thought it could wait, I don’t even get migraines… very often.
With flashes of light hammering my right eye, I got on the interstate to go home a day early. Again, “You won’t make it all the way home. Pull over and get a hotel.”
I didn’t listen.
In a random parking lot somewhere two hours from home, I threw up and then googled a hotel. I explained my dilemma and a nice man encouraged me to arrive quickly and somewhere in the pounding I heard him say something about the location of the hotel.
I didn’t listen.
I drug my weary body into the lobby. My bag and briefcase weighed much more in the fog of my headache and the 100-degree heat. The bags weighed 10 times more at the next hotel, and 50 times more at the next, where I finally found my reservation.
An hour and a half after the initial call, soaked with sweat and tears, I threw up again and fell asleep on the cold porcelain of my hotel bathroom floor.
I woke two hours later; hungover, dizzy, and fully prepared to be a better listener. I gulped ice water and pills, pulled off my clothes, and climbed into bed.
By the light of morning, I was reborn. I answered texts from the day before, bolted down the hall to the elevator, and got lost on the 6th floor. I backtracked down the hall and awkwardly ended up in the narrow way with an older couple. The man said, “Lost?” I laughed, “Yes, I can’t do two things at once.” He snickered. I nonchalantly followed him to the elevator. The woman said, “Happens to the best of us.” We stepped onto the elevator and he pushed the lobby button. I kept texting. The doors opened and I blazed out of the elevator barely hearing them yelp, “Ma’am! This is the third floor!” I was halfway down the hall when I realized what they had said. I stopped, turned, and the man was standing in the hall, “We’re holding the elevator for you!” Humiliated I whimpered, “Go ahead. I am going to regroup.” He audibly snorted, “Maybe you should stick by your commitment to only one thing at a time.” I slid down the wall behind a maid’s cart and weighed my options… laugh? Or cry?
I laughed, took a selfie and headed back to the elevator. This time, in the company of a different couple, I kept my head down and tried to focus on just getting to my car. That’s when I spotted yesterday’s hot pink Hane’s Her Way cotton underwear hanging out of the bottom of my pants. I casually bent down to cuff them back up my pant leg and the woman said, “Happens to the best of us.” Since I was discovered I just pulled them out and shoved them in the front pocket of my briefcase and said, “Yeah… the best and the brightest.”
In the safety of my car, I had a good cry.
And I heard quite clearly, “Never be so smart you’re too stupid to learn.”
There is a place of humility that I find welcoming.
To be so full of self means there is no room for the blessing of learning, growing, and becoming better.
I need this place.
With my dirty underwear in my briefcase, dried vomit on my blouse, the shattering remnants of a headache, and the open road before me I confessed my folly and begged forgiveness. I drove, sipped on Earl Grey and chatted with God about all the things I couldn’t wait for Him to teach me and all the wonders of stuff I am certain I do not know. I stopped the chatter more often than usual and waited patiently, with a premeditated presence for Him to teach me something new.
And somewhere in the silence, I heard Him say something I will never forget… “You just missed your exit…”
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami
Proverbs 2:6 (NASB) “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”