I ordered my dream bed from a shop on Etsy, a carved and distressed French Victorian fit for a king and queen, or wannabes. I ordered it in late February and received it sixteen weeks later, a sign that unless the New Jersey shop owners were felling trees and building beds on demand, my bed was more likely shipped from Singapore. By raft.
I had checked on my order often and consoled myself in its delay with how pretty the bed was and how well worth the wait it would be when it finally came. Our box springs and king mattress, stacked and waiting on the floor for their placement on their royal throne, began growing fuzz around the edges, the linty-soft grayish woolies like the hair around the edges of your grandmother’s hairnet, that marked the passing of time.
Sixteen weeks is a long time to wait. Today is August 25. We recently took Stone to college. It’s hot as flugens outside in Georgia.
Sixteen weeks from today, it will be December 15 and cold as flugens. Stone will be home for Christmas break, his first semester of his first year of college in the books. Sixteens weeks feels like forever. So when the bed finally came, I was beside myself with excitement. The UPS guy was only supposed to unload it at the curb, but since we don’t have a curb out here in the country, he was kind enough to hand truck all four boxes to our front steps.
We recruited our eldest son to stop by on his way home from work to help us get everything inside, except that one of the boxes was too big to go through the front door. Even after taking the headboard out of the box, it was still too big to get inside. Who in the world makes a headboard that won’t fit through a standard front door? Evidently the folks in Singapore.
Thankfully it went in through the double doors on the porch instead, and after some grunting and straining to get all the pieces safely inside, the rain came. I don’t think it occurred to anyone then to wonder how it would get through the bedroom door upstairs. At least, it didn’t occur to me. We leaned the bed pieces against some shelves for the night, glad to have gotten them that far before the rain. I was elated to have the bed actually inside our home and so close to our mattress and the completion of my French bed fantasy, and I began moving things around to make room. Gray haired dust bunnies scampered.
A few nights later we had a family meeting about how to get the headboard into the bedroom. We took measurements and discussed options and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t possible. The door frame would have to be taken out. Or the headboard would have to be sawn in half vertically and then pieced back together. Or we could move our bedroom to the library downstairs. None of these options were good ones, and one of them even made me cry. After all the waiting and longing and expecting, was this to be the end result–I’d have to send it back?
I thought not.
For one thing, we’d already burned all the heavy duty packaging. Where would I find boxes to return a bed so large it couldn’t fit through anyone’s front door, except maybe the one at Windsor Castle? And for another, even if we still had the packaging, paying to ship it back would be exorbitant. The bed was huge.
But my real ace in the hole was my husband, The Cowboy, who is known in our family for wrangling pieces of furniture in and out of impossible places. Most recently, professional movers gave up after trying to get a sofa out of an upstairs den. The Cowboy came home and had it out in less than 5 minutes, all by himself.
He wasn’t happy with the headboard-that-didn’t-fit scenario, but he wasn’t a quitter. I, on the other hand, was tempted to give up. I had gone into Sadie’s room to take a break from the disappointment, to get some perspective, and was standing in front of her arched picture window with its view of the front yard and the woods beyond it and the downpour that had been going on most of the day–most of the week, really. It’s just a bed, I reminded myself. But it’s a bed you really want, I thought, or heard, or thought I heard. My heart squeezed.
“Yes, that’s right, I really do want it. But I’m afraid I was greedy to buy it. It cost a lot. And now it’s not working out. I’m afraid you don’t want me to have it. It’s taken so dang long to get here. And now it doesn’t fit. It seems a silly thing, to pray about a bed.” I was silent as I considered that statement. And then added, “But I guess this isn’t really about the bed, is it?”
I could hear The Cowboy talking about twisting something and taking off something else as he worked on the headboard in the hall with the kids looking on. Stone and Josie Love had been roped in as his posse of help.
“I’m afraid to trust that you love me enough to give me this bed. It’s so extravagant. I don’t even approve of my buying it. I’m afraid you don’t approve of it either. Or of me. I’m also afraid that I care more about having it than I do about having you. That my joy will live or die based on whether or not I get to keep it. I’m afraid I love stuff more than you.”
And just like in the movies, when suddenly at a key moment in the story the weather dramatically changes (like when the mom gets a clue), the sun peeked out through clouds that had been gray all day, the rain slowed to a gentle shower, and a rainbow appeared before me in that enormous window, both ends visible in our front yard.
A rainbow that fit right inside our own front yard, one end beside the oak tree and the other in the Indigophera? The last one I had seen had stretched from one side of downtown Chattanooga behind Unum and disappeared somewhere in the Tennessee River on the other side, at least a mile away.
Grandboys Oak and Roan with their mama, Lollie, and me beneath the mile long rainbow downtown.
I had trouble getting the words out to tell everyone, but hollered as best I could, “Hey! Y’all! Come look…there’s a rainbow…um…in the yard…oh boy…right here in front of Sadie’s window! Hurry!”
But no one came.
I wanted to run find my phone and take a picture, but I was afraid the rainbow would be gone by the time I got back. So I stood there and marveled and wondered what it meant. The thought came that it was sent just for me since no one else saw it, and goose bumps ran up and down my arms in response.
As I worked to take it in, I reviewed the facts: I had prayed. The rain slowed. The sun came out. The rainbow appeared. It had really happened–and was still happening–right in front of me. Pinch. I sensed that I was getting a clue, but it wasn’t a clear one. Yet.
And then suddenly, I knew. I knew it would all be OK and I knew that I was OK, whether or not the bed ever actually got inside the bedroom. I often say I believe that God works things out for us because he loves us and he’s just that good, but I don’t always really believe it for me. When a police car turns on red lights behind me, I don’t believe it. When I spend too much money and feel shame, and the thing I bought takes too long to come and then doesn’t fit, I don’t believe it.
But there was something that felt electric in the current that carried the belief from my head to my heart that day, that God loved me and that this would all work out. On whatever scale of believing there is, mine rose or got heavier or maybe just tighter? Relieving tears came, draining the tension out of my neck and shoulders. I signed deeply, my head falling forward, like the bad news you were braced for turned out to be just a misunderstanding. All was well after all. And all would be well. (Julian of Norwich knew something.)
Mercy sakes! Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth, has just heard my words to him and has given me a sign of his love. What the heck do I care about a bed? I just got a rainbow! My Abba loves me!
That was a joyful thought to feel.
The Cowboy told me to come look. I left Sadie’s room and turned to walk down the hall, expecting to see his shoulders slumped and weary, but instead, the kids were grinning and looking at me, and there it was: the headboard at the end of the hall, inside our bedroom door.
The Cowboy was dripping with sweat and was looking around for his hammer to bang the end caps back on the top and bottom of the side posts. He’d figured that if they were removed and the bedroom door was taken off its hinges, he’d have the extra inch he needed, just enough to slide the headboard through when tilted at an angle. And he was right.
I don’t know why God loves me. After all that he’s done for me over all of my life, I don’t know why this rainbow connected me to hope and to him and his love in a fresh way.
But it did.
It wasn’t about my cleaning up my act or praying well. The rainbow that came and the bed that finally fit were gifts from him, not anything I’d earned. Because I just might be right: I might love stuff more than him. I may be greedy. There’s a lot of other, worse stuff about me, too. But God loves me anyway. He doesn’t love me because I’m good. He just loves me because he loves me.
When Ezra, age 3, asked me recently why I loved him, I said, “The same reason you love your new baby brother. Because you just do. And I love you, because I just do, too.”
Ez looked satisfied. “Oh,” he said.
“We wait in hope for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.”