Waterfall of Blessing
A week ago Monday, I returned home from having lunch with a friend to a waterfall originating from my balcony, pouring down from the third floor. As we now understand, a fire sprinkler waterline had frozen and burst while I was out at lunch. As quickly as the system could pull the water in to maintain the pressure in the line, it was pouring into my studio apartment. When they were finally able to shut it down there was an inch or so of standing water and even more trapped between the sub-floor and carpet. It was like walking on a waterbed. I put out a couple calls and sent some quick prayer requests on our care group text string. Kathy was the first to arrive, followed by Debbie from care group who drove right over after getting my text. The three of us spent the next two hours madly working to move my belongings to dry ground we had created in the kitchen and bathroom. The water restoration company required that we move everything in my studio –with the exception of my bed frame and mattress– into the two non-carpeted areas. It got incredibly hurried towards the end as more of their employees were moving into the tiny space and literally rolling up the carpet under our feet. As we were being moved out the head water guy said he thought it would likely take about 3-4 days to get the apartment dried out, at which point I would be let back in to start sorting through everything to assess the damage.
I received a call from the apartment management the following morning to let me know that the water damage was more extensive than originally believed, that the repairs will take several weeks to complete and require that I move out of the apartment with all of my belongings. They provided me with an apartment to move into but they needed me to have everything out by the end of the weekend.
I’ve often said that one of the hardest parts about being single is the fact that everything on the to-do list - from routine chores to oil changes to the household finances - has my name next to it. The flooding and all of the logistics related to the unexpected move were rapidly adding to my to-do list. I found myself in a position to send out the world’s worst moving invitation - very little notice, not a single thing has been packed, not only is it not packed it is incredibly disorganized after the frantic squeezing of it all into the kitchen and bathroom, and in a few weeks’ time I’m going to ask you to move it all back. Oh, and I live on the third floor. And the apartment we’re going to move it all into…also on the third floor.
To His glory, on Saturday morning 12 people arrived to my apartment to help pack and move me. I even called off the folks from Helping Hands that were standing by in case they were needed. Twelve people set their plans aside, rolled in with boxes in tow, and in three hours had my apartment sorted, packed and moved over to the new place. They took care of dirty dishes that had been soaking for a week, with no running water to rinse them or wash their hands. They helped me separate out what I need access to during the weeks I am hanging out here and what can remain packed away. They sorted through books individually to ensure none of the damp ones made their way into boxes and caused more damage.
At one point I walked into the bedroom at the new place and found a whole crew of them on the floor trying to work out how to put my bed together. I commented that ‘this is what the church looks like’ but the truth is that could have been said about the entire day, the entire week really. From the time my first text went out, invitations to stay in homes started rolling in – some for the entire time it takes to complete the repairs. I was, and continue to be, surrounded by folks who want to know how they can help.
I think of your message on Sunday and the physical needs I had this past week that have been met in full. And then there are the dozen people who showed up, along with several others that said they would have come if they weren’t out of town or at the men’s retreat. They all - including Ron who’s learning to walk again in rehab and yet told me repeatedly he was bummed he couldn’t be there to help out - speak to how God took my relationally destitute life 12 years ago – a life of isolation and fear that made it difficult to trust folks enough to let them close let alone into my life – and made me one of the richest people I know. Today I live a life filled with friends, that are now family; people who do life with me, even when its messy, wet, disorganized, and up countless flights of stairs. This weekend I got to glimpse the church He created live, up close, and personal. I am humbled and so incredibly grateful. I live a life that many would view as simple but He, through the relationships and love He has saturated my life with, has made me oh so very rich.
As for the rest of my friends, in a couple weeks’ time, I may just have a moving invitation to extend your way...though I should mention the stairs…