“C-C-C-Cottey, beautiful Cottey, it’s a school of which I’m sure you’ve heard before,
If you get good grades, they send you to Paris!
Oh, it’s got everything, oh, everything, but … men.”
Today’s post is written by a friend of mine that shared that Cottey experience (and that Cottey song, which was a lie; despite our good grades we didn’t get sent to Paris). Jenny Ferguson and I met in the mid-1980s when we both attended Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri. At the time, the school of 350 students was the centerpiece of the small town that was then a population of 10,000 — or, at least, the lone traffic light there primarily ushered students across the road from one building to another. Jenny and I ended up sharing the same dorm suite with eight other girls and lived in a college culture that included girls from all over the world, not just the United States. It was a learning privilege I have never forgotten. After we graduated from Cottey, Jenny and I lost touch until about 15 years ago, when she and I both commented on Christian author and speaker Becky Tirabassi’s website. When I saw “Jennifer Ferguson,” I messaged, “Is this the Jenny Ferguson who attended Cottey College?” And thus began our friendship outside of Cottey College — now mostly on Facebook. At the beginning of December, Jenny asked me if she could guest post on my blog site on the theme “We Wait in Joyful Anticipation about Advent,” and I wholeheartedly agreed. She sent me the post yesterday with a note, “Still love any feedback but it in essence, unless you have huge huge changes — feel free to post them whenever you need a break this December. :)” I have no “huge huge changes,” and today I need the break. (Huge huge day yesterday, actually, which I will tell you about tomorrow!) (Besides, I didn’t want to make Jenny wait.) For now, enjoy my friend Jennifer Ferguson:
At my yoga studio, there is a hot yoga class one night a week. Not hot enough to be Bikram yoga, but hot enough you might feel closer to menopause than you actually are. The entire class is made up of a series of poses that are held for a significant period of time. This class looks really simple on the surface – just some gentle stretching…until you try to get out of the bed the next day.
One night as we headed into a series of difficult poses, the instructor said, “When you get into a pose, just allow yourself to be there. And once you’re there – accept that you’re in this pose.”
Allow and accept.
As I struggled with poses, I kept saying over and over again to myself, “I allow myself to be in this pose. I accept that I’m in this pose.” As I was driving home, I began to think about those two words and how they apply to much more than yoga poses.
One of the popular sayings going around on Facebook and Pinterest is a version of “…until God opens a window, praise him in the hallway.” When I see these posts, I always have an overwhelming desire to throw something at my computer screen. Seriously? Have you ever been stuck in a hallway? Waiting?
Hallways remind me of waiting for a delayed plane at the airport. You’re there with lots of people who are just as anxious as you are to get out of the hallway. A family with a baby who is teething and shrieking; every time the baby stops shrieking, you can hear the couple in the corner argue in low tones and their entire vibe sends bad juju throughout the entire hallway. The lone vending machine hasn’t been serviced for a while and takes only exact change. One woman with a loud, grating voice is talking up a storm on her cell phone. For the rest of us, there is only one outlet and everyone is trying to keep their cell phones and tablets charged so we can let people know we’re in the hallway. All of the chairs are plastic, hard and uncomfortable. Sitting on the floor – not really an option. The carpet is worn with weird stains. Of course, this is the day you’re wearing your best dress pants that just came from the cleaners. You’re trying hard not to be the person who pounds on the vending machine trying to get the last Diet Coke out of the machine. You’re trying hard not to lose it. At this moment, the best version of yourself is to not speak to people in your signature snippy voice. Praising God in the hallway isn’t even on the list.
Welcome to waiting in the hallway. Where you’re supposed to be praising God, if everyone in the hallway with you is barely keeping it together and the group is a hair’s breath away from breaking out into all out mutiny.
I’ve also been in hallways that are completely empty and silent. No other waiting parties. No fighting couples. No noise. No distractions. No vending machines. No chairs. No outlet so you can keep your phone charged and connected to the world. Just you and the hallway and a silence so deafening and loud at the same time you want to crawl out of your skin.
Neither hallway is really fun.
Especially if you’re waiting for your name to be called.
For a promotion. A job. A baby. An answered prayer. Healing. A break in your budget. A call from your doctor with a test result.
My yoga class moves into a pose designed to stretch the hips. We have to hold this pose for a while. I grimace as I adjust my hips and can really feel the pose. I’m wishing I hadn’t come to class.
As we’ve all settled into the pose, I hear the calm voice of our instructor.
Allow yourself to be here.
I close my eyes. I’m going to make it two more breaths. I can do this.
I hear the soothing voice of the instructor. Accept that you’re in this pose.
I open my eyes. Instead of counting the breaths until I can come out of the pose, I breathe into the tight places in my hips. After a couple of breaths, the tension eases. Not completely, but I’m no longer focused on how uncomfortable I am.
The next time I’m in a hallway – crowded and loud or eerily and painfully silent – desperately wishing I was somewhere else; I’m going to hear the voice of my yoga instructor.
Allow yourself to be in the hallway.
Accept that you’re in the hallway.
Breathe into the part of your life that feels broken.