In my new career as a Professional Guest, I have already downsized drastically. I sold my house and every piece of furniture I owned, every chair, table, couch, settee, floor-length mirror, dresser and artwork, and I hit the road, driving 1700 miles to Florida to start over. (I did have the presence of mind to pack a few clothes hangers with me.)
I had brought mostly essentials for my new life in Florida—half of my clothes, my computer, my Dyson vacuum cleaner, some twin-size sheets, a few towels and my Norwex mop. If anyone had peered into my car parked at all those Days Inns along the way, they would have seen a vacuum cleaner and mop, surrounded by a mound of towels and assumed I was one of the motel maids.
It was time to push the RESET button in my life. (In the Apple world, Command+Z for “undo.”)
Jesus understood the “RESET” button. He was a Jew. His Jewish followers (or brothers, as he called them) had asked him at one point, “How many times must I forgive my brother? Seven times???” (they were kind of all about rules with their Levitical teachings, Old Testament commandments, and so forth.) Jesus, bringing in a radical new way of thinking told them, “Forgive seventy times seven.”
In other words, give everyone a RESET button.
I’m not advocating for letting people off for murder and other horrendous crimes. What I am saying is, “Try to give folks a reset button and see if they can turn things around, change for the better.” Redemption. Stop throwing everyone in the slammer.
We are all just travelers here. We make mistakes. Hopefully we learn from them and move on. But if no one gets a reset button, if there are no do-overs, then nobody recovers. That’s the reason you have 99,000 people in prison in the state of Florida ALONE. What about the other 49 states? We get the book thrown at us for the first infraction. That is what the “Law” of the Old Testament was all about. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. If your neighbor steals an ox from you, he has to give you back five. It is the law of restitution. And it pretty much kept order in the Israelite community for three or four thousand years, when there were a lot fewer people groups.
Something happened to shift that dynamic when Jesus arrived on the scene 2,000 years ago. He started to teach his disciples about the RESET button. He touched the unclean (lepers, lame, blind, bleeding women, etc.—absolutely forbidden at the time for any law-abiding Jew) and he made them whole again. He turned water into wine. He took money from the mouth of a fish to pay his taxes. Who does that? I’d like to find that fish.
He was teaching grace. I like that word but, unfortunately, I think it has started to be “Church-Speak.” (kind of like “Legaleze jargon). A better definition in today’s world would be “RESET.” Refresh. Do-over. Start again. It’s not over until the fat lady sings.
Down here in Florida, walking on the beach at sunset, I’ve started to rethink even the smallest possessions that I have left. When planning my move from Minnesota to Florida, thinking I still needed to at least “appear” artistic, I had packed all my cosmetic jewelry into quart-size baggies and dragged them with me. Camping out here in my cousin’s place for two months, I grew very weary of those baggies. What if I got rid of all my stupid jewelry and just wore a strand of pearls around my neck? Pearl necklace, pearl earrings. Classic, beautiful, goes with anything, well—at least with a starched white shirt. I’m done. In five minutes after shower, makeup and hair, I’m done.
I bounced this new epiphany off my Minnesota/Dallas bff, Carole. She said, “Sheryl, whenever I see your pictures on Facebook or (whatever social media), I see you have these wonderful artistic pieces of jewelry on. I don’t know, but I wouldn’t get rid of them just yet. They look great. Keep them a little longer. Anyway, how many starched white shirts do you have?” One. And a blue one.
That changed my mind. If anyone know imagery, it’s Carole. She’s in marketing. She’s a musician, an entertainer. And she knows me. If she says, “keep it,” I’ll keep it.
Then a crisis of unimaginable proportions occurred. The internet went down for me here in Florida. I was pretty much dead in the water. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t communicate, couldn’t check my bank account! I didn’t even have a Yellow Pages to look up numbers. What could I do? Back home in Minnesota, I would have been on the phone with Comcast and every other person from India to get it back up and running. But I’m a guest here. When you are a guest, there are many things that leave your realm of control.
I waited. I listened to music. I watched TV. I went for walks on the beach. I unplugged the router a couple of times and plugged it back in. I checked my email on my iPhone but even if work came in, I couldn’t do it. It was the most helpless feeling in the world! What did we do before we had internet? I don’t know. Maybe we all went outside and leaned over the backyard fence. I have memories of my own mother in her sleeveless working dress, hanging up laundry on the clothes line in the backyard and chatting with the neighbors.
My cousin helped me from Minnesota (WHILE she was walking her dog, on the phone with Comcast and texting me at the same time). We finally got back up and running and I earned another paycheck for the week with my design clients. Whew.
I may not be able to live without the internet, but I think there’s a lot more about the RESET button that I want to learn. It might involve going back to just pearls. I don’t know. When you are a Professional Guest, the less you have to pack and take with you, the better.
I think my friends will help me with this one. There’s a proverb: “In the multitude of counselors, there is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:14.) In other words, always keep a couple of close friends in your back pocket. They’re the ones who are going to keep you from losing your head once you decide that you’re going to “jump off,” which is what I did when I sold my house and all my belongings. They’re the ones who know you best, when you think you have to toss all your jewelry. And they’re the ones who will always call you back…. to you.
Then, give yourself and others a RESET button. Even that person you don’t like anymore after what they’ve done. That’s what Jesus would have done. And sometimes you (or they) have to hit the RESET button more than once. Seventy times seven.