So many times I have thought I must be God’s little stray, His orphan wild child; the one that shows up with mud stains and tear stains, her little shorts torn and unmatched socks sweaty and soiled. Certainly He must shake His head at me in wonder.
Recently, at a retreat high in the mountains of Colorado, I learned to put words to many things in my life, one being the insignificant, but intensely awkward, habit of showing up early to everything. Being late usually is not on my radar. I know far more about stressing in the hushed, unease of earliness.
The afternoon session was to begin at 1:00pm. Since distraction is my birthright, I gathered all I needed and left my room at 12:30 so as not to be late. I always think this will land me there right on time, but most of the time it does not. In three minutes, I wandered into the small meeting hall 27 minutes early. The speaker and worship leader were tuning in to a soul-connection with God. I entered and offered a half smile of “Please don’t admit you see me” that was met with a well-known, grace-filled pause. They began to pray for the upcoming session.
Once again, I heard the familiar script in my head, “What are you doing here? You mess up everything.” I succumbed to the pressure to bolt and turned to face the door.
The door. Does anyone know what lies on the other side of a door? Just beyond the wooden slab and brass knob is the reason for my perpetual earliness. If I dared open the door I knew what would happen. I knew what lurked just feet in front of me. That day it was Colorado. The whole state waited beyond that door. I walked outside in spite of myself to get away from the self-inflicted awkwardness.
Then it happened. I saw a tree stump. Troubled water. A tiny bridge. Leaves. A quarter mile down the trail there was a bench. A single, yellowed aspen leaf lingered there. I had to touch it. Think about it. And the leaves covering the troubled water moved in slow motion as if stirred by the angel of the Lord. In seconds, I was clambering down close to the stirring for just the right view.
An unknown amount of time passed before I was brought back to earth by the sound of women gathering for worship back at the meeting hall. There I sat, covered in dust, dirt stains on my knees. Who knows what the backside region was covered in as I had scooted over the ground like a millipede.
My brain is simply wired for distraction. It’s not a disability. It’s an alternate way of being able. The ADHD label explains a lot, not because it refers to a diagnosis of something wrong, but because it explains a way of life that has too long been experienced as frustrating, heart-breaking, and isolating rather than creative, free-spirited, and beautifully full of desire.
Not once have I shown up at the right time for anything, but over time God has always shown up where I ended up. Did anyone else see that leaf He placed on the bench? Or the one tucked in the fork of the tree? Did anyone see His song in the twirl of leaves on the water? Did they think of the crippled man at the waters of Bethesda and long for Jesus to help them get in? I did.
So today, I lean in to that sprite of a wild child. Early? Late? On time? Does it always have to matter if the One Who made us knows when we are as much as who we are? I think I’ll open the door and check out Tennessee today.