On “my” red pleather couch… the one I assigned myself.
They were like dashes ona line against the white walls of the long hallway, these matching couches, spread out between the curtained openings to the gym where my daughters practiced volleyball. Parents were not granted access beyond the curtains to avoid interference with the coaching of their daughters, as they trained and scrimmaged with their teammates.
Have you ever gotten so comfortable sitting in a certain place that you think you “own” it. And then one day, you walk in to find “someone else” sitting in “your” spot!
That’s how I was with this one particular couch.
And it’s exactly where I remember sitting when I first experienced it… “foot envy.”
On my red pleather couch.
Odd, I know.
But it I had it.
I envied other people simply walking by me.
Not that I envied their clothes, their fitness, their beauty or whatever.
I literally envied them WALKING by me.
It happened after I stepped on something sharp in my kitchen. A piece of glass, a splinter, “something” that I never quite removed. The pain was endless and ever increasing.
Doctors couldn’t see it, find it, or diagnose it.
It had become this “imaginary” thing that I was embarrassed to admit feeling since I couldn’t describe it anymore. All I knew was that it hurt and no one had a solution.
I had given up medical care.
And in it’s place had taken on this strange jealousy.
I sat there alone, on my red pleather couch, across from the water fountain.
When the girls were released for a water break, many of them would run out from behind the curtained gym in a heard to line up. They laughed and panted, recovering for a few moments until the whistles blew, signaling time to return for more training.
But with each pass, they thought nothing of the propelling motion their feet gave them.
They simply had a subconscious thought to go back to the gym. Conditioned by the whistle, a signal from their brain traveled miraculously through a network of neurons and synapses connecting and firing, in instantaneous fashion, which told every fiber in their feet to flex and bend, rotate and move, without so much as a flinch of pain noted on their face, and take them where they wanted to go.
I, on the other hand, sat motionless on my red pleather couch, fearful that if I found myself thirsty or in need of a restroom break, I’d need to skooch to the edge of the seat, ready my right foot to bear the weight as I stand. Fortunate that the team just took their break and wouldn’t be by to hurriedly knock me down, I’d have some time to slowly, and steadily… one limp at a time… left (ouch), right (ahhh),
left (ouch), right (ahhh),
left (ouch), right (ahhh),
left (ouch), right (ahhh)…
…you get the point
Until finally, I’d make it to my destination.
Honestly, it usually wasn’t worth it.
So I’d sit and feel sorry for myself… on my red pleather couch.
It wasn’t a new feeling to me… self-pity.
It was, though, probably the deepest I recall feeling it in a public place; a place where I had no where to hide or express my frustration.
Sometimes I’d wonder if I was the only one feeling sorry for myself?
But, I know that’s not true!
Surely, I’m not alone in this feeling.
I bet that you’ve had times of comparison like this too.
Maybe yours was not foot envy, but sometimes the pain we feel weighs us down so heavy that we struggle to get out from under those thoughts.
When everyone who passes by seems to have a life with all the synapses firing and motion that propels them right where they want to go.
When they hear a whistle and they turn at just the right moment running off to a life that seems full of laughter and smiles.
When everywhere you look, people are in motion and “getting” somewhere, but you are sitting still, wishing for more.
I wish I had a life like that.
I wish my feet moved and floated in air without pain.
I wish that I belonged to a “team,” and felt a part of the life that looks so perfect.
But If I had sat there on that red pleather couch forever, “wishing,” I never would have made it to this day, when I can walk and run.
I never would have found a place of healing, wholeness, and new strength;
a place of purpose.
And that’s why I brought this red pleather couch to my memory today.
I have decided to make it a Memorial!
Today I’m celebrating the Memorial of a Red Pleather Couch.
My day actually started with feelings of self pity.
I began to feel sorry for myself TODAY, about something ridiculous… something petty, something small.
I had to stop myself.
I had to talk myself out of it.
I realize that I’ve suffered feelings of self-pity enough in my life and I don’t want to live like that anymore.
So when NOW when I see the red pleather couch, it’s empty!
I don’t sit there anymore.
God has a better plan for me.
God has a better plan for you.
He doesn’t want us to watch life pass us by, but to live it.
And He has shown us how people have lived well… and NOT so well, in the Bible. He wants us to learn from those examples so that we can live our lives BETTER and with PURPOSE!
The reason that I made a memorial of my red pleather couch is, actually, to honor God.
It’s to thank Him for picking me up off of it and replacing my strange jealousy with a new purpose.
It’s what God asked repeatedly of people in the Bible after He helped them.
It is because He KNOWS how temporary and fleeting our thoughts can be.
He made us and He KNOWS us.
And He KNOWS that we will often need something tangible, visual, memorable to look to and remind us that He has helped us before…
He will help us again.
Our God is faithful!
If we read about the Israelites and their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness,
we see that when God led them out of slavery in the book of Exodus, He worked many miracles.
And yet they complained.
He provided for them miraculously and guided them.
And yet they felt sorry for themselves.
He promise them land and possessions.
And yet they grumbled and worshipped other gods.
Many times, God had to redirect them and many times they repented.
God is a forgiving God.
He knows us and that we have a very short memory of all He has done for us.
So He would often ask them to build memorials to remember certain occasions of provision.
One such memorial, is found later in their journey in the book of Josuha.
It is here that God led the Israelites out of the wilderness into Canaan by parting the Jordan river.
And as they priests held the Ark of the Covenant on the dry land in the middle of the river bed, God commanded Joshua to send twelve men, each representing the twelve tribes of Israel, to stop in the middle of the dry river bed. They were to take twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan and pile them up where they camped to make a memorial. Then, when the waters covered the Jordan river, these people who crossed over could always remember this stone memorial and the dry ground upon which they walked across. (Joshua 4:3-4)
And God instructed them to tell their children and anyone who asked about the stones how He delivered them.
“This was so that everybody on earth would recognize how strong God’s rescuing hand is and so that you would hold God in solemn reverence always.” Joshua 4:24 (MSG)
We all face these cycles of doubt and despair in our lives.
But it’s how we handle them that determines their duration.
What about you?
Are you sitting on your red pleather couch today?
Or is there some other memory that you can cling to and recall when God brought you out from a mess?
Maybe you didn’t call on Him to bring you out… but you now need to acknowledge that it was by His saving grace.
Or could it be that you’re so low that now IS the time to call on Him… He’s always there, listening for “everybody on earth” so that He can show you His “strong… rescuing hand.” (from Joshua 4:24)
Instead of being scared to skooch to the edge of your seat, not knowing if you can bear the weight as you stand, lean on God to uphold you and guide you through a difficult time.
And then you can look back and know that your life has purpose, as I am discovering in mine.
And when you have those days, like I did today, reflect on your memorial.
Like I have my picture of the red pleather couch…
…to see how far you have come.
And to determine that you are going to live a stronger day, TODAY;
a day of reverence to God that honors His strong and rescuing hand!
And be glad that the red pleather couch is… empty!