Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Permission Granted

When I was a mere lad (that sounds so British ... and I'm not) I liked to do things in a rather impromptu fashion. I still do. Well, as long as it pertains to things like, oh, talking without thinking or acting without considering the consequences. I am really, really good at apologizing. I have a standing account with a local florist just so that I can kiss the boo-boo that I just inflicted on some usually deserving soul. Still. I've always been one of the pastor's and so I'm supposed to be nice.

Somewhere along the line things changed. Not sure why. Maybe it happened in the halls of higher education. There was this girl that shared a philosophy class with me. She was a nice person most of the time. Still, for some reason her own personal philosophy was to wait until I came into the room before she entered. Then shen would sit in front of me, turn around, smile a charmingly disarming smile ... and with one sweeping arm motion wipe all of my books off of my desk and onto the floor. It became a daily occurance. It took me several months of patient waiting but at last my day came. I entered the room and Paula (the name is not changed because she is totally guilty) had already assumed her seat. I'm not sure what was going through her mind of that day. Maybe she just slipped a mental gear. Maybe it was the 24th day of her month (oh, I am so going to pay for that when my wife reads this) and she just was not feeling up to par. Either way. I turned the corner, saw her there and without even thinking about it I put my books on my desk, said "Hello, Paula," picked up every book on her desk walked directly to the window, opened it, and dropped the entire stack from our second floor perch to the sidelines of the soccer field down below. I closed the window long before Paula closed the mouth that hung open in shock. I do not remember the next few seconds. Maybe other students were laughing. Maybe they were hiding under their desks. All I remember was a feeling of deeply satisfying glee. That lasted until a man in gray bibbed cover-all's stepped in the door. He did not look happy. He was actually quite unhappy. He was simply going about his day MOWING THE SOCCER FIELD when half a ton of philosophy, biology and math books fell onto his head.

My bad.

I followed his suggestion by going downstairs and retrieving Paula's books. As the class ended I was handed a note to report to the dean of students office. While that was not exactly good news it could have been much worse. You see, I was working part time at Sears in those days. I have mentioned before that I usually worked in "Customer Pick-up." (I will refrain from jokes about picking up customer's this time. I like sleeping in "The Big Bed.") As fate would have it, Dave, the dean of students had come in just the week before and dropped his only television off at my counter for repair. Seems his wife was watering the plants that were sitting on the tv when she accidently watered the tv itself. (Insert "sizzle" and "fry" sounds here.) Dean Dave knew that if he wanted to ever watch Monday Night Football again he would have to go easy on me. And he did. He told me not to throw any more books out of any more windows. And he suggested that I sit in the front of the class so that Paula could not sit in front of me anymore. This is why Dave was a dean and I was a mere student. I had not thought of that.

So I think that is where it all began. In that moment Dean Dave created the need in me for "permission." Makes sense, don't you think?

Ok, you have stuck with me this far so let me 'splain to you what I'm getting at. A couple of weeks ago when I was at the National Youth Workers Convention I met up with my friend who is in charge of the subject area in which I taught a seminar. Beth is cool. She lives in a cool place, has a cool husband, works at a cool job and, best of all, does not know she is cool. (Not know that you are cool makes you even cooler. Make a note of it.) So my wife and I took Beth and her husband to lunch. A really fancy (sarcasm intended) chili restaurant. I had bragged about it to her and they did not live up to the billing I gave them. But I digress.

Beth and her husband Joe listened to my wife and I rant and rave (in a refined and yet intense manner) about things in life that had been bugging us. No details so don't ask. And that is when it happened. I think they were really talking to my wife, Debbie, when they said it. They gave her permission. Permission to be mad. Permission to yell. Permission to beat something (not someone) up. Permission to tell God that we are freaken mad and He needs to get involved in a particular situation in our lives and kick butt. They showed us how that is exactly what takes place over and over and over in the real life testimonies told quite frankly in the book of Psalms. They went so far as to tell us that if we failed to do these things it would eventually bubble out in other much more destructive ways. Like my doctor said ... "eliminate the stress or it will eliminate you."

So. Permission granted. And now I am taking my friends advice. I am learning that it is an art. No, I have not spoken rudely to any one. I have not kicked the dog. Actually, I am starting slowly. I need new tires for my Mustang and I went and got some quotes today. Twice I burst out laughing when they told me their price. Twice! Ok, it's a slow start but at least it is something. I had a doctor's appointment this afternoon because I've got an elbow problem going on. Nothing serious. I just keep getting this build-up of fluid (ok, actually it's blood) under the skin. You can't see it but my elbow feels squishy to the touch. My insurance is changing on January 1st so I thought I better get it checked out. The doctor said it was no big deal but that he would try to drain it and then give me anti-inflammatory drugs. I let him stick me with The Needle From Hell five times before I told him to knock it off. Give me the drugs. I'm going home. And on the way home I stopped at Walgreens to get my miracle pills and the pharmacist made a mistake and asked a question that ... well ... came out wrong. And I totally took advantage of it. I played innocent while she turned various shades of crimson. And I also played dumb. It was a totally lopsided match-up. She didn't stand a chance.

So Beth, if you are out there in blogdom somewhere and find yourself reading this I just want to say THANKS! Permission rocks! I realize it is a potent weapon and I promise to use is wisely and sparingly.

HA! Don't you believe that for a second! Tomorrow is Wednesday and for the first time in many, many years I do not have a church I have to be at in the evening. Heck, I don't even have a church that WANTS me there! I'm free! And you know what I plan on doing? Me neither. But it's going to be good....


Jaelithe said...

Hey thanks for stopping by my blog. It was neat to have a pastor throw his two cents in.

Good luck finding a new occupation for yourself. (I totally understand how ministry to teens could equal stress, BTW, even if the teens don't, heh. My mother was a social worker for a couple of years. . . )