Saturday, March 31, 2012

Broken Screws

"You've had an Iowa license before, right?" The lady in the DMV office compared my birth certificate, Social Security card, Washington driver's license, and Iowa bank statement.

I nodded. My first driver's license had come from Iowa. When I traded it in for my Washington license at age 18, the friendly DOL man had punched a W-shaped hole in my Iowa license and given it back to me. I glued it fondly into my scrapbook, expecting it to be my last Iowa-issued form of ID.

Now I found myself in the county courthouse, trading in my Washington license. Not only that, but this time, I had license plates to swap, as well. So, $91 later, I walked out of the office with my temporary driver's license, Iowa vehicle title, registration paper, and license plates.

Washington license plates stay with the vehicle, even when sold—for as long as it remains registered in The Evergreen State. Apparently, every 7 years, the state issues new license plates to make sure they're still reflective. However, because of my history with vehicles (think: snowy, muddy, deer-infested mountains), that never happened to me. Hence, I've never had to change the plates on any of my vehicles.

Until Thursday.

I had a busy week, between work deadlines, college deadlines, and midwifery appointments. Although I actually brought the plates home on Wednesday, I put the job off until Thursday evening—and I only did it then because I needed to drive the vehicle on Friday. I expected this to be a quick job, that even a mechanically disinclined, domestic and desk trained little woman could accomplish. After all, I know how to use a screwdriver.

But Queen Vashti proved quite unwilling to change her identity.

The front plate unscrewed without too much hassle. When it came time to replace the grand sketch of Mount Rainier with a peaceful, pastoral farm scene, though, I had to take a cue from the previous owner and get a bit creative with duct tape. (Nothing fraudulent here, mind you. The tape held the washers and nuts in place long enough for the screws to bite in.)

The plastic screws in the back, however, spun and spun and spun—in both directions—to no avail.

So now Queen Vashti had divided allegiance. I could just picture myself explaining these incorrigible screws to an officer.

I must have twisted those screws 10 minutes before my parents came back from their evening walk. Just the opportunity I'd awaited. Giving my distress call, I perched on my heels and waited for Papa to come and show me the easy, obvious solution.

Instead, he walked me through a difficult process: sticking our hands into a cramped space up behind the bumper, grasping the nut, and unscrewing. Well, that worked for the bottom two—but there was no getting even my little hand up to grasp the nuts behind the top two screws.

So he broke the heads off.

Next came the most difficult portion: again wiggling my hand up behind the bumper—but this time hanging onto the nut all the way. Finagling it into position, and keeping it steady while he screwed the Iowa plate on. By the end of the evening, I had tiny fiberglass splinters in my hand.

For the top right corner, Pa found a screw in his workbench that bit in just right without any nut behind it. The top left...well, it's true. My car now has a missing screw. But let's be optimistic. After 50+ miles, the license plate is still on and doesn't appear to be loose. Vashti has been forced into Iowa citizenship.

She's just a car, and doesn't have a choice. And yet at the time, it surely seemed she was putting up a fight. "No! Take me back!" she screamed through her unwilling screws. "I am a Washington car, and I want to stay that way!"

I've heard a few other screams like that, this week—coming from within. Sorry Northwesterners, but I'm not actually talking about wistfulness to move back to the mountains. I'm thinking more of my eternal citizenship.

By birth and by choice, I became a citizen of Earth. But I have an invitation to immigrate, and I'm working on my "papers." I've told the Master that I want to be a citizen of Heaven.

Sometimes, though, when He turns the screws, so to speak, without even realizing it I start resisting. I freeze up and say, "Nope, this screw doesn't come out, Sir. I have this way of thinking, this desire. I really want it, and it's not changing. Sure, go ahead and put in Your new screws. I want to integrate them, but I'm sure that You'll see they don't fit in the hole where You're trying to place them."

The Master pauses. "I thought you wanted to be a citizen of Heaven."

"Well, hmm. I thought so too. But are you sure about this screw? It wouldn't budge even if I wanted it to."

Maybe I should be specific, since this week I encountered a very specific "unwilling screw." I've been hung up on the concept in this brief thought: "There is no love greater than Mine in earth or heaven. [Your] greatest happiness will be found in loving Me."*

Really? But I really want an exclusive love. God has six billion other people plus millions of angels. Doesn't that make me less special? After all, I'm one of many, many daughters.

I wrestled with it, grappled with it, turned it around and looked at all the sides I could find.

In the end, I realized I had a simple choice: Believe Him that His love was the greatest I could ever find, and that I would never be happier than when worshiping and loving Him. Or keep insisting on a specific kind of love I want—and if God isn't lying, never be satisfied.

Trust Him that He's God and can love me like there is no one else, even though there are plenty of others—that He can love me and His others better simultaneously than anybody could love me with their complete, undistracted focus. Or keep searching.

Rest in Him. Or keep striving and wearing myself out.

Keep myself in the immigration process—or drop out and remain subject of Earth.

"OK, Father. Go ahead and break the screw."

* The Desire of Ages, page 57.

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