Monday, November 30, 2009

The Beat Goes On

Two or three weeks ago, Scott and I were sitting on the couch mindlessly trying to find something to watch on TV. Scott was flipping through the channels. He stopped on the movie Drumline. We came in on the last 10 or 15 minutes of the movie. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this movie in its entirety, but in all my channel surfing days, I have caught this final culminating scene several times. Something about that last snare beating showdown always makes me stop and watch.

From what I gather from that final scene, it is an underdog struggle kind of movie centered on a band competition. The final face-off comes down to the rhythm sections of the final two opponents. Both sides beat the heck out of those drums all the while they were spinning and dancing and who knows what else. In the end, the top dogs lost because they disrespectfully beat on the other line’s drums. The underdogs won because they showed some class by keeping their own drumsticks to themselves (oh, just go rent the movie. It’s a lot more effective to see and hear it yourself!).


As I watched the blur of those drumsticks moving back and forth and listened to that click-clack cadence get more and more intense as the competition grew fiercer, something hit me. BANG! Like a big bass drum. Or maybe some really loud cymbals. It’s the rhythm. My rhythm! That’s what’s off with me. I’ve lost my rhythm.

Not my dancing or foot tapping rhythm, but my living rhythm. I’ve been clapping on the offbeat since about April. It’s just taken me this long to realize it and to begin to try and get it back.

Yesterday in Sunday School we talked about hope. What are we hoping for in the next year? Saying out loud that I hoped the next year would have none of the icky that this year had helped me see it. And I began to faintly hear it. Ahhh, a quiet little tapping.

The icky of this year that threw me off?

Well, there were my friends. One of them died. In her 40’s. That’s not supposed to happen, is it? Circumstances I can’t do anything about have taken two other special friends out of my regular day to day circle. The quick pace of their chatter in my ears leaves me with lots of quiet. I miss them.

Then there’s my family. My dad was diagnosed with cancer. My 86-year old dad has lived through a heart attack, open heart surgery, prostate cancer surgery, all kinds of skin cancers, a lawn mower accident that took one and a half of his fingers, and a long list of other medical maladies. This chemo has about done him in. It has also sent my mother into orbit because she just doesn’t process new information like she used to. I don’t really know what to do for them anymore or when to do it. I can no longer read their sheet of music.

Oh, and my church. I’ve loved church since I was a little girl. When I was a teenager, I was the only one under 30 that would show up on Wednesday night. That’s how much I loved it. Still all these years later, everything in my life is based around my love for the bride of Christ, often at my own personal expense. So needless to say, I was knocked off balance when the leadership there very NON-lovingly told me that I did not live up to the standards and expectations they had for me and that I needed to sit down and shut up or else. What? All I was doing was trying to look out for someone else’s wellbeing, not even my own. I don’t even know now to march in step with that.

Then, there’s my job. There are just two of us in our office. The boss and me. It’s been a tough year with the economy the way it is and all. The boss turns 65 in January 2010. With business slow and that social security eligibility date looming for him, he announced his retirement for that date. I spent weeks posting the job announcement, collecting resumes, reviewing the resumes, taking all kinds of phone calls about the position, wondering about all the what-if scenarios that might take place after he was gone, and getting slightly depressed over all the variables and unknowns. Then, over a long weekend earlier this month, he changed his mind. He’s staying one more year. Well, OK, I can get back in that groove, but my, oh, my, all the worrying and speculating I wasted on it!

The only major area of my life that has not been rattled this year is my marriage. Then again, Scott and I have always, always, always, marched to completely different drummers anyway. (insert your favorite Thoreau quote here). I think continually trying to hear each other’s drum is what keeps us together. He picks us all the extra beats that I miss. We truly live a syncopated life together.

Once the Drumline movie inspired me to label my situation as a rhythm problem, I did what I usually do. I went to scripture to try and find out what God might say about such a thing. I did a little research (admittedly, not a lot, but still—I used a concordance and a lexicon. That counts for something, doesn’t it?).You know what I found in the Bible about rhythm? Nothing. It might be in there, I just didn’t find it.

The closest I came was:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven...a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away… a time to be silent and a time to speak… I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 4

Well. I’m not ready to give up yet. I’m not ready to throw it away yet. I get more and more ready to speak up every day.

Scripture also says that to God, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. Not only do the number of days belong to God, but so does the rhythm at which the days pass by. Some days are soooo long they seem like years. Some years fly by so quickly that it seems like just weeks between birthdays. In all of them, God is the one beating the drum.

Just one more thing….
(and a spoiler alert...I'm about to REALLY embarass myself).

When Scott was in high school, he was the drum major for the James F. Byrnes Marching Rebel Regiment Band. Apparently, that’s a big deal in South Carolina. His mom told me on several occasions how she prayed for him to achieve that position if it would help him with this career down the road. He’s still pretty good at this beat-keeping business.

Me? I’ve always had trouble keeping up. When I entered band class in the 7th grade, I started out playing the drums. I blinked my eyes every time my drum sticks would hit the snare head. I could never see the music because my eyes were always closed. That lasted about a month then I switched to the woodwind section. A couple of years later, I was in the marching band for one and only one football season. I just couldn’t cut it and eventually gave it up.

I just wish I had been more in tune to God’s cadence at the time and not the one I was conjuring up myself. It would have saved me a lot of heartache and embarrassment.
Please don’t let this happen to me again. If you see me swaying out of step, remind me again to get my fingers out of my ears and listen for God’s rhythm that makes everything beautiful in its time.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 2 Peter 3:8