"Will you pray about working in the kitchen?"
It's my friend Ann calling and she is leading the next women's retreat. I haven't worked in the kitchen on this retreat in years because baby, it is exhausting. The last time I worked in the kitchen as cook's helper I was on my feet for 20 hours straight. I just can't do it anymore. Dearest one and I talked about it and agreed that nope, it wasn't an option for me. I felt disappointed because I'd wanted to work this retreat with my friend. Working in the kitchen is an incredible time of bonding both with women I've known for years and with new friends, too. The time is marked mostly by hard work, laughter and prayer.
However it looked like I wasn't going to be at this retreat. Darn. I was sure I'd be working it with my friend. Oh well, I thought, I'm not God and I know this friend prays deeply and listens to what she believes God is telling her. I guess it was not to be. I'd call her the next night after work and tell her my answer.
Some of the women work in the kitchen and some of them share their story with a new group of women. There are different topics for these stories and I've shared mine within those topics on several occasions. It is both life giving and humbling. It was so humbling the last time around that I told God I had no desire to ever share the particulars of that story ever again. After I'd shared it a woman came up to me and told me that my past story was her now story and how much strength she was drawing from my experience. Despite giving her hope it had been so painful to share that I just didn't want to do it again.
That said, I knew I'd be asked to share it within a different frame of reference at some point. I had even thought it would be this particular retreat. Despite how painful sharing this part of my story is, I truly believe that the beauty of redemption shines through our lives when we open our mouths and share those moments that have forever changed us. Keeping them to ourselves isn't an option. I just like to whine to God about it now and then. Usually when the pain is still fresh.
The next night I picked up my phone and leaned it towards me so I could see the call display pad. I clicked past the telemarketer of the day call to see my friend Ann's number on the screen. I scrunched up my face in puzzlement as I punched in my password to retrieve her message. In her pleasant British accent she tells me there has been a change in plans. Could I please consider doing such and such a talk instead of working in the kitchen?
In my 10 years of working these retreats I've never had the leader call and change her mind about where I should be working. I was so stunned by her message that when dearest one saw the look on my face he immediately thought we'd received some very bad news. I reassured him that it wasn't bad but I was so shocked that I went into our bedroom and cried.
Later that evening I called Ann, "Okay, you need to tell me the story behind why you changed your mind." Because I know there has to be one.
Turns out she'd gone to bed the night before and had been unable to sleep. She was exhausted and told God it really would be nice if she could go to sleep. After tossing and turning and praying and laying there awake, into her head popped the idea that Hope wasn't supposed to be working in the kitchen, she was supposed to be doing this talk. My friend got out of bed, wrote herself a note about it, went back to bed and promptly fell asleep.
And that is how it came to be that
I am now doing the talk that I told God
I never wanted to do again.
PS. I grew up with a phone just like in the picture.