…And I have a broken cell phone to prove it. I will explain that in a minute. But first, it is ridiculous how much I think about Corrie ten boom, a dead someone I’ve never met from another century. Seriously. I think about her book The Hiding Place literally every day.
And it’s not what you think. Sure, she forgives Nazis and saves Jews and all that stff. But it’s not these inspirational acts I think about when I’m shushing babies and chopping carrots. It’s other random things.
Like the first three chapters, which have little to do with Jew-saving or Nazi forgiveness. She starts out telling random, unconnected stories from her childhood. Some are so silly: conversations with her dad, a first crush, things like that. But at the end of each story she will give a one-sentence “moral” so to speak of what that incident taught her. And you realize that things like getting dumped, having ugly clothes, and seeing a dead body for the first time have all prepared her, somehow, for the amazing future she eventually accomplishes.
I can’t tell you why in the world this is the biggest help to me, but it is. It is a “fun” little game I play. I will be in the middle of some difficult, annoying moment (like cleaning up thrown-up grapes and applesauce from the car seat) and I will wonder, what purpose is this serving? What is this teaching me how to do? It’s surprising fun for a pessimist, because sometimes I do end up imagining some horrific application (like battling cancer, say) with the same current lesson (patience under suffering or whatever). But strangly, it comforts me. It reminds me that every small struggle has a purpose in my life, or the lives of those I’m helping. Life feels bigger, and more meaningful.
But if I have that in common with Corrie, I have little else. Honestly. These people, Corrie and her family, are a different animal species entirely from me, who, yes, slammed my perfectly good cell phone into the kitchen cabinet in a fit of rage against life, particularly because I couldn’t stop two babies from crying, take a shower and eat my breakfast when I wanted to. Again, I don’t know whether to blame America, pop culture, my genes or what, but I am half the person these women are. I will tell you this one story to demonstrate.
Corrie’s mom had a stroke when she was 40-something. Her abilities became limited to saying three words: yes, no, and Corrie. Couldn’t move, dress herself, etc. Now mind you, this is all explained in about half a sentence in the book. No pity-parties there. Anyway, Corrie explained that, despite this embarassing demotion of life, Corrie’s mom continued, with the same dedication as prior, to LOVE PEOPLE. She would look out the window, and love people. She had a little system of saying, “Corrie,” when she wanted something. Then Corrie would somehow figure out it was someone’s birthday whom her mother had sighted out the window. Corrie would guess and guess until she figured out who, and then Corrie’s mom would scrawl a signature on a card. Happily. This was how she lived her life.
I don’t need to draw any conclusions for you, I’m sure. I envy, marvel, and yet cringe at this type of character. I want it and I don’t. I’d like to add on a sentence saying maybe one day I’ll be like her, but honestly, I think that is wishful thinking. I think I’ll be happy if the Holy Spirit helps me keep my cell phones in one piece when I’m frustrated. Maybe someday.