Earlier in the year, I finally went to get an eye exam so I could get new glasses and contacts. My old pair of glasses were hanging together by a thread (or more literally, a safety pin or two) and I had come to the end of my supply of contacts. When I was ready to order the glasses I had picked out, the conversation with the fairly gruff lady went a little something like:
Me: I’d also like to buy some contacts today. How much will that cost?
Lady: So, you don’t want the glasses?
Me: I definitely want and need the glasses, but I’d also like to buy some contacts.
Lady: You can’t do that.
Me: Why not?
Lady: The insurance will only pay for one or the other.
Me: Oh, yes, I understand that. I’ll pay for the contacts on my own.
Lady: So do you want the glasses or the contacts?
Lady: The insurance will only cover the glasses or the contacts, but not both.
Me: I would like the insurance to cover the glasses and then I will pay with my own money to buy the contacts. I would just like to know how much they’ll cost.
Lady: You can only get one or the other.
Me: (big deep breath, remember kindness) Noo, I’m pretty sure I can buy contacts with my own money if I want. How much would contacts cost if I just walked in with no insurance and decided to buy them?
Lady: (eyeing me suspiciously) But the insurance will only cover the glasses or the contacts, but not both.
I thought my head was going to explode.
She called someone else over who, after the initial “the-insurance-only-covers” bit and my rather controlled explanation of my intentions, quickly understood what I wanted to do.
Lady #2: It’s ok, she’s going to buy the contacts.
Lady #1: Alright (huge sigh).
Can I slam my head into a brick wall now?
Despite our little exchange, the lady seemed like a fairly intelligent woman so I honestly could not understand what the problem was. Did I somehow not state what I wanted to do clearly enough? Did she truly not understand what I was asking? Was she intentionally being difficult? Is there some kind of eye doctor insurance law that I am completely unaware of that forbids me from paying for goods and services on my own? What? What? What? Would someone please tell me what just happened?
I should have walked out with the prescription and bought the contacts elsewhere, but I was so flustered by this conversation I could no longer think. In the end, I did finally get both the glasses and contacts, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be returning there when I need new eye stuff.
Upon reflection, the memory of this conversation makes me infinitely glad that God is far more understanding with us than I am with my fellow human beings. Can you imagine how patient He must be with us when we, either willfully or ignorantly, disbelieve what He says?
I’ve had a running dialogue throughout life with Him that goes a little something like:
He says: Come to Me and I will give you rest.
I respond without knowing I’m saying it: That sounds nice, but I have to work a little harder and do a little better because I’m just not good enough for Your love.
He says: Don’t worry about being good enough. My love has taken care of it and I can give you rest for your soul.
I say: That is great and I hear You, but I just don’t think I’ll ever be able to live up to what Jesus did for me.
He says: I’ve already told you that you don’t have to. I love you so much that I’ve done all the work for you, just come love Me. Put down your heavy burden of things to do and ways to be.
I say: Didn’t you see how I just yelled at my kids? Have you seen the things I’ve done and heard the thoughts I think? I just don’t know if I can believe that kind of love is for me.
He continues to assure me: I’ve got it covered. I love you, let Me.
I say: (suspiciously) OK, I’ll try. But…
He offers us real love for all eternity and we argue with Him about it. We are stuck in our way it has to be and then make a big stink about how we need to feel about ourselves to accept His love. All the while, never giving up on us, He patiently listens and waits for us to finally believe, even just a little.
I have loved you with a love that lasts forever. And so with unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself. Jeremiah 31:3 (CEB)