In Which I Identify As A Tulip

In Which I Identify As A Tulip April 19, 2018

Before June, I’m hoping some decent weather will hit, but it’s clearly not happening this week. Today was pleasant, but all week it’s been a roller coaster of either too dry, too cold, or Wyoming-windy. A few days ago, I decided the front yard could no longer have the appearance of the county landfill, so I took a few minutes to clean up everything the Puppy snuck outside and demolished – pool noodles, paper plates, socks. Also, I needed to pick up Puppy grenades.

I didn’t even get half of the job finished before some serious wind picked up. The leaves I had gathered went flying all over the yard when I tried to put them in the trash can. The paper plate pieces flew around and were hard to catch. And the grenades? Well, I could’ve weathered the storm for that portion of the chore, but I gave up since the wind prevented the trash can from remaining upright for more than one or two poop scoops.

The rest of the story involving wind is rather comedic. It involves me trying to take my frail mother to the doctor, in a truck, in up to 86 mph winds. That’s hurricane level winds, people. My Mom weighs more than me by quite a bit. And the wind, bless it, would blow its hardest the second I opened the door to help Mom out. It was a miracle our bodies, fingers, swirling hair, or purse handles were not slammed in the door. Thankfully, by the skin of our dirt-filled teeth, we made it out of the truck without incident. Walking into the office wasn’t any less embarrassing, as we struggled against gusts of wind that nearly knocked us over. First Mom, then me, as I tried to keep her from biffing it.

The ladies at the front desk were laughing, I know it. But they had pulled themselves together by the time the two ladies and their bad hair arrived.

Back to the yard. Whilst practicing my poop scooping skills, I noticed my orange tulips had come up. Tulips are my favorite flower, so I thorougly enjoy the entire twelve hours they decide to poke their little heads out here in the Rocky Mountain region. Okay, more than twelve hours, but it seems even shorter than that some years. This year is no exception, because though they’ve bloomed, they’re closed off. They don’t like cold. They don’t like wind. They don’t like it here much at all, really, and it’s a wonder they survive. Understandably, they protect themselves against the harshest of weather, because … well I think because they’re smart. Or rather, their Maker is smart. When it’s sunny and warm, their petals will once again open and be receptive to the world.

Well I kept scooping a few grenades, and then I thought … ya’ know, I’m basically a tulip.

When my environment is harsh and unwelcoming, I clam up. My mouth closes, as does my heart. When I’m hurting – physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually – the closing off just happens. I don’t will it. I don’t even think about it. Like the tulip’s closing, it comes natural. If I don’t fight the urge, I will indeed start living like a mountain woman. No TV. No internet. No church. No phone calls. No transportation of any kind. No doctor’s appointments! No relationships other than comforting ones. And no shaving my armpit hair.

Kidding!

This isn’t Telluride, folks.

So what’s my point?

My point is, I’m not a tulip. I’m a female human being. It’s popular in today’s world to identify as someone or something else. But though we choose to sometimes live in a fantasy world, the truth is, God has made us either male or female (Gen. 5:2), and human. The other truth is that all humans have a need for community. I will even go one further and say that people thrive best in community – particularly God’s community. That is, church.

Church is supposed to be a hospital for the spiritually sick, which would be all of us. That is the condition of humanity: we are all spiritual sick and in need of the Great Physician. If the church functions as it should, it is where the sick are first accepted, then saved, then healed, then eventually thriving for the cause of Christ, so others might experience the same. It’s a wonderful cycle that needs to keep on keeping on. In order for that to happen, I (and maybe you?) need to quit identifying as tulips. We need to open up – rain or shine.

It’s difficult. On a scale of one to ten, ten being the most introverted, I consider myself a nine. As a child, I was painfully shy. I’m surprised I got through kindergarten without pooping my pants every day. Or first or second or third. Going through papers the other night, I found my high school diploma and marveled that I was ever able to complete that many years of school without dying of a heart attack. No wonder I had open heart surgery after I graduated!

Seriously though. If I had my druthers, I’d almost always choose to be alone. I like people, and I don’t say that flippantly. I am being honest. But people also drain me, quickly – especially when I’m struggling physically, which is daily, but not necessarily hourly (it’s complicated).

Still, the Great Commission is the Great Commission. As Christians, we are commanded by Christ to Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that He has commanded us. 

Thankfully, God remembers I am but dust, and He gives me opportunities to do my part in fulfilling the Great Commission here at Patheos. I’ve no idea who my readers are. But I know you’re out there, reading, considering, thinking through Scripture. Writing is a way for me to be God’s megaphone – to shout the truth the best I know how – given the limits He has ordained for my life.

I go to church anytime I can possibly make it through the service without getting too sick. My house is akin to Grand Central Station many days. If family or friends aren’t visiting, there’s always Mom to minister to, whether by taking her to the doctor in hurricane winds, answering her theological questions, or calming her fears with Scripture.

Oh, and Facebook, of course. We musn’t forget all the conversations I have there, on statuses or in private messages. I am being a wee bit sarcastic, but truly, some of the deepest, most challenging conversations I have are over private messages, emails, or texts. My introverted self wants to chuck my phone into the next week sometimes! But I haven’t yet because as a chronically ill Pastor’s wife, it’s often the best way I can minister to others without draining myself and being forced to resign to the sickbed for two days.

Example: as I “speak”, I am battling a migraine and migraines (at least in my case) escalate quickly if I get cold, or if I talk. I can still think, somewhat, sometimes. But I cannot talk. And yet here I am, with the Lord’s help, “talking” to you about the Great Commission. And dog grenades, which I hope you will forgive.

God is great. I believe He’s placed me in the era of internet. Facebook, blogging, texting, and private messaging for a reason. Would I rather be living on the prairie in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. Yes! I’m all for calico dresses and bonnets and living out in the boonies where it’s quiet, where the buffalos roam, and where company comes at most once a week, but probably more like once every two months. Oh, and where freeway driving and phone beeps aren’t a thing.

Admittedly, I romanticize that time frame in history. You catch my drift, though. I value peace, quiet, and a simple life. But never should I be “a rock or an island, hiding in my room, safe within my womb, where I touch no one and no one touches me.” Paul Simon’s lyrics and music may be catchy, but identifying and therefore acting like rocks and islands (and tulips) is not living in obedience to Christ.

Nobody’s asking introverts to be extroverts. However, every Christian should be doing their part in fulfilling the Great Commission. Though it is difficult living as an introvert in a culture that expects extrovertedness, I’m grateful God has provided avenues for me to witness, disciple, and commune. And I’m grateful those avenues are conducive not only to the way He has hard-wired me, but also to the trials He has ordained for my life.

I’m confident He can do the same for you.


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