Continued from May 18th post, Unexpected Attack.
The next calamitous day I recall in Baltimore was while still living in Abby’s home. This time I awoke to the smell of smoke at 4:00 a.m. I woke up Ben and we went downstairs to find haze filling the room.
Despite all the firemen’s visits to my elementary school when they told us to wake everyone at the sign of smoke and leave the house immediately, we debated whether to wake our friends. Instead, we opened the windows and Ben decided to venture into the basement to find the source. Everything you’re not supposed to do.
My efforts to not blow things out of proportion have silenced me far too many times, so I finally woke our friends. We couldn’t determine the source of the smoke, though it smelled worst near the dryer, and the thermostat no longer worked. To my surprise, I was the only one who wanted to call the fire department. So I waited until everyone else had left for the day and then called.
The firemen confirmed the smell was from an electrical source, but they assured me everything looked alright. They advised us to never dry only one or two garments at a time as doing so could keep the dryer running indefinitely.
Someone came to repair the thermostat, and calamity number two was resolved.
The third mishap occurred shortly after moving in with another family of friends. With three kids in the family, things were never dull in their home.
The two older siblings loved playing with their ten-month old sister, so it wasn’t unusual to see her perched on her nine-year-old sister’s shoulders. But when I heard cries coming from both of them and their mom asking where exactly the baby had landed, I knew it wasn’t good.
I went into the kitchen to find out how I could help. The baby had fallen off her sister’s shoulders when she let go for a split second and hit her head. I was amazed at how level-headed their mom remained with her oldest sobbing at the thought of having hurt the baby, and the baby crying out in pain.
Our friends decided to go to the emergency room and asked if Ben and I could drive their two oldest to the friends’ home where they’d planned to have dinner. We took them and tried to help them process along the way.
By this time, I’d started to think we brought curses on everyone with whom we lived. Friends told me not to entertain such a thought, but it felt like over the past few years, we’d had something akin to the Midas touch. Instead of turning everything to gold though, what we touched began to crumble.
At some point while struggling with that thought, the Lord was gracious to remind me that even amidst these calamities, He had preserved life and wholeness. Abby was alive and healing, the house hadn’t caught on fire, the baby ended up being alright, and we were still friends with everyone who’d welcomed us into their homes.
Likewise, despite being unable to find steady work in the preceding three years, we’d never come close to missing a rent payment or being unable to put food on the table. We’d even been blessed with several amazing vacations during that time.
I began to see that perhaps the Lord was being gracious even in letting us be present for the mishaps in our friends’ lives. They were opportunities to witness the difficulties of daily life that come not only for us, but for everyone. And they were opportunities to support our friends in the midst of these difficulties.
We all regularly face the fall of creation, and we long for restoration, for wholeness, for peace and calmness and righteousness. We long for shalom.
I’m grateful to have looked into that longing with friends, to have walked alongside them as family and be welcomed in their midst even when it involved hardship and chaos.
I finally came to a point of believing we didn’t bring curses on our friends. We simply walked with them through a world that faces the curses of the fall every day – a world that Christ is continually bringing closer to restoration. A world that He promises He will one day make new.