Last week I started Ann Voskamp's newest book, The Broken Way. As is my preference, I was listening on Audible during my solo car time and while performing otherwise mindless chores around the house. When I realized I had already clipped and noted 6-7 things in the first three chapters, I pressed pause until I could get a physical copy to mark up. My daily household chores now have me listening with the hardcover book and a pen nearby.
In the book, Ann describes how she started drawing a small cross on her wrist in ink every day as a reminder to die daily to self as Christ laid down his own life for us. I did it one morning last week and was surprised to find how often during the day that small inky cross served as a touchstone, perspective shift, and a Gospel reminder. While I am not prone to ritual, something about this practice really resonated with me.
For the last 7-8 days I have taken a moment in the morning to quietly re-commit myself to the Lord and then scribbled a rudimentary cross--two lines across my veiny wrist as a simple act of remembrance.
Just as I walked back in the house to breathe, mark my wrist and shift into adult/ministry mode, I received a call from the school. On the other end of the line was my Kate.
"Mom, I forgot I needed my bike today. Could you bring it?"
Kate is a very responsible 12-year-old who packs her own gear, thinks ahead and never makes these rescue phone calls. This was not really a judgment call about teaching her a lesson, it was about me.
My mind flooded with all the important things I had to do. I glanced at the clock and did some quick math. I could rush and make it happen. But my attitude was poor as I was already in 'real clothes' and did not want to deal with putting a cumbersome rack on my car and getting filthy as I loaded a dirty mountain bike.
I grumbled internally as a decided to skip the rack and manhandle the bike into the back of my Suburban. I had to climb around inside, lowering seats and do some pushing and pulling to make it happen. One of the tires left a 3-inch black scuff on my beige interior. I sighed in annoyance.
Hopping in the SUV I cranked the ignition with my right hand and noticed there was no cross on my upturned wrist. I had intended to do that during my precious few minutes of quiet regrouping. Instead, I was wrestling a dirty bike so my child could participate in a special mountain biking elective.
As I put the car in reverse and turned the steering wheel sharply to the left I saw it. Just as my right wrist was clean, my left wrist bore dark marks--not the inky cross I have taken to wearing, but dark smudges of bike grease.
"Love gives, and huge acts to try to make someone happy don't make anyone as hugely happy as simply doing small acts to make someone feel loved. It's strange how that is, everybody wants to change the world, but nobody wants to do the small thing that makes just one person feel loved."
And there is was--truth come to life.
I left that bike grease there on my wrist all day. I didn't need to draw one in ink, because God had brought me a real life imprint to remind me that we don't get to pick the neat, planned acts of love. Daily surrender requires being available for the smaller, messier, more inconvenient ones. Truly, these moments are the ones that matter most.
I made those two planned appointments--serving orphans and Bible study (about walking in love, no less)--but delivering that greasy bike was undoubtably the most important thing I did all day.