Thursday, May 26, 2016

When You Walk Into a Room

When you walk into a room, what happens? How does your arrival make others “feel”?
Are they intimidated? Happy? Anxious?

When we walk into a room, sometimes, no one notices. But more often than we realize, others will have a subtle emotion surge through them when we enter.

How we live beside them, how we respond to them, how we look at them begins to author the emotion they feel. Are we a calming influence? Do they feel rejected? Can they feel safe? Do we make them feel insecure?

Jesus showed us the importance of seeing others and responding to them in right ways.
When Jesus walked into a room, things changed.
And when He left this earth He said we would do all He had done --- and more.
So ----- i've been sitting with this question ---- what happens when i walk into a room? Do joy and peace arrive with me? Or do i bring anxiety and strife? Something more than just flesh and bones enters when we walk into a room.
Something more than used air will remain after we go.
If we asked 10 people closest to us to share one word describing how our presence makes them feel, what words would they use?
Wherever we go, we fill up that space with more than can be seen.
When we walk out of a room, we leave something behind. People feel better, worse, or untouched completely. Have we warmed hearts or chilled them?
It's the pre-cursor to the legacy we will leave when we die.

It's what Heaven's been whispering to me of late.

On a Monday we prayed again over my aching chest. The cough had first come four weeks earlier. Tears had dominated my night; fear is a mean bedfellow. Ugly thoughts like, “could this be the beginnings of a heart attack?”. Since i've never had one, how can i know how it would feel? I'm not typically a worrier, but this extended sickness had begun to win and i was losing the battle in my mind. After lots of prayer, and sorting out many details, my husband bought the ticket to fly me home the next day. It's the cheapest ticket we've ever bought between Kenya and home, what a relief.
Tuesday i boarded the plane.
Twenty-three hours later i landed in Atlanta.
People surrounded me. But my eyes searched only for my daughter.
Maggie walked into the room at the international arrivals in ATL --- and everything changed.
A sparkle of “home” arrived with her. Flowers in hand, she brought peace, calm, love, and the sense of you-are-not-alone. It all walked in the room with her. My chest still ached, but my heart breathed more easily ------

The next day found me sitting in a doctor's office. Friends had made the appointment for me, we'd spoken with them just minutes after booking my flight on Monday. I needed to see a doctor, they made the arrangements for me (thank you Gene and Jackie!). Seventy-two hours later found me in his office. I sat quietly on the high examination table, Jackie and i watched the door. The doctor would soon arrive; he would bring a knowledge of what was wrong with my chest and what needed to be done.
The doorknob turned, Dr. Momin walked in, a smile and a greeting, and i knew answers would soon come.
When the doctor walked into the room --- everything changed.
Before meds were even prescribed, my thoughts shifted and i felt better, just knowing someone was present who knew what to do. No more guessing, i could rest. It was only bronchitis and pleurisy ----- the words heart attack or lung disease never came. It's a tiring battle to keep believing the best when your mind runs rampant over less appealing possibilities.
When someone who could give an educated answer walked into the room --- there was no more space for battlegrounds in my mind.

Two days later i sat in a room proportionate to a castle hall. Called the “Great Room”, it a quiet space where students can retreat from the continuous activity of university life. My youngest son had said, “Mom, while you're home, come to class with me...”. He now attends my alma-mater. It's a beautiful campus in a small gold-mining town, hence the steeple on the oldest building is covered in gold found in the mines long ago. Between classes we walked pathways familiar to us both. I shared storied of the places his father and i had sat and talked during our dating days, before a wedding ring, before children. Under the same-same oak trees, walking the same-same pathways, my son now journeys where i once did, and we felt time shrink. As class called him away, i headed to the great room, he would meet me there after lectures were done.
It's a dark room with a stained glass window on one end, flags hanging high around two perimeter walls, and couches neatly placed in groupings. I chose my spot, slid off my sandals, curled up against the cushions and studied along with the other much-younger-students in the great room. They delved into books like physics and foreign language, poli-sci and calculus. I opened familiar pages of ancient history laced with endless love. My Bible, my greatest study, my home.
I read, journaled, read more, prayed. Mentally sitting right beside the hems of His robe, and wiped tears over the flood that comes. The hour flew by. Looking up from my studies, i saw him round the corner. Peter walked into the room, and everything changed. There came that smile on his face as he found me in the dark great room, that smile of recognition, that look that silently says, “There you are, i know you, i've been looking for you ----”. Familiar kindness, peace, calm – it all came into the room with him.

Days later, i sat in my parents beautiful mountain home. It's their weekend runaway, where the deer battle with my mother over her newly planted flowers and the trees wrestle with my dad over their leafy covering of his long mountain views. It's a place of silence and peace even with these playful wrestlings of nature. Mom and Dad know, the mountain owns itself really (the Deed in their hands means nothing to the mountain), and the trees and deer and bear see their lovely home as a well manicured playground. We'd laughed the night before as we stayed up late and talked. Early morning found me perched in the quaint sitting room off their breakfast area, holding leather-bound-home in my hands again and talking with the One. Everywhere can be home with Him. Finishing up my readings, i sat quiet. The morning sun was shaking the shoulders of the mountains as a mother does the shoulders of her children, “time to wake up”. Light leaked into the little room wrapped in windows. Then mom walked into the room, and familiar flooded in, dad was right behind her, and everything changed. Familiar faces with familiar voices ---- for over five decades. Familiar, safety, kindness, and i-miss-seeing-your-face walked in with them.

My short two week visit home was a flood of much-needed-moments with those dear to me--- walking into the room. And for those two weeks, i allowed myself the gift. Mentally, i wrapped each entry as if it were a literal present.

It was an unplanned trip. A last minute decision. Go home to see a doctor (chest pains pressed the decision), but also, and perhaps even more important, go home to see your children, your family, rest in quiet places with souls that your heart is aching to see.
Perhaps it wasn't pleurisy that pressed me home after all... no, it wasn't a heart attack... instead it was a heart in need.
My dear husband gave me this gift --- go spend Mother's day early with them. The time it will take to fly there and back will be about the same amount of hours you labored to bring them into this world.
What a thought.

As i flew back to Kenya, sitting alone surrounded by people, i revisited all the moments of familiar faces walking into the room.
Words are not able to share the heart sometimes.

It's perhaps one of the great griefs of releasing a loved one to the grave. The pain of knowing they will never walk into the room again. Living so far from home, i do think on such things. And it grows me. Others-centered thoughts, not self-centered ones.
Appreciating the fact that when someone walks into a room with us ------- it is a gift that will not be allowed always. This should not provoke sadness; this should provoke appreciation. SEE the soul that enters the room. Embrace the gift that has come near. And go a step further still --- ask ourselves to be truthful about what others might feel when we walk into their rooms.

In the blink of an eye, my visit was over. Good meds had begun defeating the chest pains and coughing. I'd rested near my children in my daughter and son-in-laws home. Getting to lay my head down under a roof that's also covering the heads of those i gave birth to --- well, that's better than ten Christmas mornings for me.

Waiting on airport tarmac, anticipating those wheels leaving home-soil again ----- those moments of seeing them “walk into the room” filled in the cracked pain of leaving them again.

Landing back in Kenya, i held that same leather-bound-home in my hands. And i purposed in my heart to appreciate who would be walking into the room here. My Steve. We who have been married for many years can all too often overlook the gift that should be seen when they walk into the room. Steve and i have been married for almost 34 years. That's over 12,000 days of walking in to each others rooms. Too many let it become common --- it should not be.

“Walking into the room” ------ it was a thought, a grouping of words that i'd been studying on for near two weeks.
How it felt when others walked into my room... how it might have felt for them when i walked into theirs.

Then two days after my return home to Kenya, i sat with a missionary friend as we prepared to lead worship on Sunday. She had chosen several songs for us to consider. Playing her guitar, we sang. Coming to a song i'd never heard before, she sang it alone, i closed my eyes and listened. She sang the words -------
“When You walk into the room --- everything changes...”

She did not know the journey i'd been on with those very words. I opened my eyes and reached for the song-sheet, as she continued to sing.

When You walk into the room ----everything changes. Darkness starts tremble ----at the light that You bring.
When You walk into the room----- every heart starts burning --- and nothing matters more than just to sit here at Your feet ---- and worship You.”

When Maggie walked into the airport arrivals room – everything changed for me.
When the doctor walked into the examination room --- everything changed.
When Peter walked into the great room at university --- everything changed for me.
When my parents walked into the quiet-time room --- everything changed.
...there were countless other moments of special room arrivals, each of which is dear... and perhaps i appreciate them all the more because it is not often i get to see them walk into my rooms.

But when it came in a song ---
“When YOU walk into the room, everything changes --- darkness starts to tremble at the Light that You bring...”
Heaven whispered.

HE had been giving me glimpses of it – the importance of what happens when LOVE walks into a room.

Truth --- when we walk into each other's rooms, it matters. We bring something with us when we arrive. We bring joy or angst, peace or turmoil. And we actually get to choose. We should choose well what we allow to enter a room with us. It will matter --- more than we know.

Heart-healing can come when others walk into our room – when the doctor walks in – when my children, my sister, my parents, my husband walk in. Heart-healing.

But ----
SOUL-HEALING comes when HE walks into our rooms.

So ---- when the room is filled with too much pain, too much lonely, too much ache --- and we're longing for something to come and relieve the empty space around us.
Let's close our eyes and ask HIM to walk into the room.

When He walks into the room ----- everything changes.
We must not let the wild commotion and deep pains of life on planet earth keep us from remembering -----
what we REALLY NEED --- is for HIM --- to walk into the room ---
and when we walk into the rooms of other's lives, we need to carry Him with us.

And may we never forget --- some of the most unkind among us --- have never felt HIM walk into their aching rooms. May we carry HIM all the more steadfastly into their hollow spaces.