Once a month, the men at church gather on a Sunday evening to sing and study and fellowship. I am all for this. Yet it must be admitted that we are creatures of habit and pattern and to have Sunday evening popcorn and bedtime without Daddy ruffles our feathers a bit. It just feels so wrong (before you scramble to the bottom of the page to leave a comment, all you who are married to doctors, politicians, elders, managers at Big Lots and anyone else who regularly has to travel or miss bedtime — I already know I am spoiled. I am spoiled rotten that my husband is close to home and that he is able to be part of our day every day. You can’t make me feel bad about it)! But because we want to encourage him in this, we grin big and wave and blow kisses and then proceed to try and make the evening feel special, even if a weird special.
So, this last Sunday, as soon as he set off, the kids turned the living room upside down with piles of pillows and fluffy blankets and I attempted a batch of molten chocolate lava cakes (heard later that night: “Was there supposed to be something gooey in the middle of this? Because there isn’t.” Huh. Know what you get when you put a lava cake in the oven for one minute too long? A brownie. Oh well. Have some more whipped cream, kid). We snuggled up with bowls of popcorn and non-compliant chocolate to watch I Love Lucy.
(Side note: I am not an influencer and don’t feel generally prone to plug products or services to you, and when it comes to the world of streaming television, I cannot really get fully behind any of them. I will say that I recently dropped Netflix and have been trying Hulu and with all the garbage, there is also a nice collection of older shows, and I dig that. And I can watch Shark Tank without having to be hospitalized. That guy with the folding guitar? What a terrible idea.)
In the episode we were watching, the scene opens with a very pregnant Lucy (can I just say, there is something appealing about the cute gingham tent thing during pregnancy? I am torn. Showing off a bump is great, and the body sock has its place, comfort-wise, but watching Lucy made me think there is something to be said for just skipping anything to do with a waist when you are about to give birth… and maybe for 2 to 17 years afterwards) tidying her house, scooting chairs out from under a disgruntled Ricky, who complains because he was hoping to sit and watch “the game”. She explains that the girls from the club are throwing her a surprise baby shower.
Ricky pulls the classic face of perturbation and confusion that we have come to recognize from the show and asks the obvious: if it is a surprise, why do you know about it?
And Lucy answers nonchalantly that each of the girls called her up separately and told her about it, because they all knew she would want to be surprised, but she wouldn’t want to be surprised.
The Quails’ faces registered a response not unlike Ricky’s, and they turned to me for an explanation of this mysterious feminine quirk: we want to be made much of, to be celebrated, but we don’t want to be caught looking foolish or unkempt. We want all the love of a surprise and none of the sheepishness or humiliation.
Earlier that morning, when a Quail was washing her face in the bathroom sink, to her absolute horror and fright, the sink in question chose that moment to turn in its resignation and it tumbled from its hole in the counter, out the lower cabinet, and onto the floor with a profound crash. There is a time and a place for observations about “heavy duty face wash” — this was not it. Turns out, there was a trend maybe 15 years ago of gluing sinks into their countertops. It fell out of favor as more sinks fell out of their holes. It being a Sunday morning, we set the sink aside and the Beloved offered kind assurances that he would set to getting it fixed Monday morning.
So I should not have been too startled to receive a text the next morning telling me that workmen were showing up in the next few minutes to work on the sink. But here’s the thing… I was being productive. My laundry was laundering, my dishes were washed, the counters were clean, but I was still in sweaty workout clothes (ooh! Did I mention that part? I had worked out. Legit sweat, not just gross from doing the dishes) with an odd smear of mascara around my left eye that I had somehow missed the night before and hair that… well, let’s just say it took me all night to achieve that look.
As I scurried into clean clothes and something resembling a face, I thought back on the I Love Lucy episode and how in some ways, it is the most relatable television show ever made, and I also thought how bizarre it is that we who are the most prepared are so often taken the most unawares.
How often do you catch yourself sighing over the trials of this day? You just can’t understand why all this is happening, you don’t know why your kids are this way or why it seems you can’t get a handle on all the things you are supposed to be doing. Murphy’s Law has become a statement of faith, the bedrock of how you understand the world around you.
But you, reader. You got the call. So did I.
The Lord did not leave us to be caught unawares by pain, by suffering, by temptation and grief. He didn’t set us up to be exposed to the worst with our curlers still in. He told us, emphatically — in this world, you will have trouble. Do not be surprised when you are taken in a fiery trial, as if it was somehow weird and unexpected. Sinclair Ferguson (please prove yourself to be one of my people now and pause to pronounce his name in the most rolling Scottish burr you can possibly accomplish) described our stance in the face of trials as one that, far from being surprised, should look the world, the flesh and the devil in the eye and ask, with a straight face prepared for battle:
What took you so long?
Take a lesson from Lucy. Get your house in order. Do not wait until affliction tramples down your front door to sweep out the dark corners of your heart where the sin has been sitting pretty. Do not wait until pain constricts every breath to saturate your soul with the Word of God. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart — He has overcome the world.