In early March of 2020, my husband and I flew from Washington to Tennessee to introduce our five week old daughter to family for the first time. A few days later, we borrowed a vehicle from my parents and headed to North Carolina for a rather life-changing occasion: to sign the contract to purchase our very own teardrop camper manufacturing business.
The you-know-what was juuuuust edging onto the US radar when we left Washington, but by the time we were driving to NC we received a phone call from our brother-in-law and co-business-owner, already in town for the next few days, that the state had plans to enact the first “shutdown” the following day – and oh yes, toilet paper was in short supply. We decided to stop at a Wal-Mart in Bristol for a few baby things, and on a whim, we also grabbed one of the last packages of TP they had: a 69-cent four-pack of the lowest quality product I’ve ever purchased. (No offense if you like cheap toilet paper. I absolutely do not.) We joked about how semi-apocalyptic everything felt and that if things got really bad we just might be glad we had it!
In the days that followed, that lowly package of toilet paper morphed into a significant reference point for me. Maybe it was that I was tired from travel. Maybe it was the fact that I was awash in a sea of postpartum hormones. Maybe it was the stress of such a big decision, amplified by the beginning of the world chaos (how little did we know then, right?). After all, the stock market was down about 1,000 points the day we signed the dotted line…what a great time to be getting into discretionary goods. Whatever it was that my brain distilled out of all that craziness, I have continued to think many times of that TP (yes, we do in fact still have it in our possession) for perspective and as representative of God’s sustaining goodness. If that sounds like a reach, let me explain.
We are two years into owning our own business…but we’ve never had to open that package of toilet paper.
We’ve lost people we love to old age and various diseases, and people we love have lost people they love…but we’ve never had to open that package of toilet paper.
We’ve experienced multiple miscarriages…but we’ve never had to open that package of toilet paper.
The news headlines fill me with existential dread on a near-daily basis…but we’ve never had to open that package of toilet paper.
Anxiety is a frequent visitor and change knocks on the door once more…but we’ve never had to open that package of toilet paper.
As a believer, I know that “this world is not my home; I’m just a-passing through.” Life can be a major roller-coaster, though; the ups and downs of which sometimes find me clinging to the handle bar in terror and feeling as though God has left us to shift for ourselves until we enter into eternity. And it is this that is absolutely, categorically untrue. It does not always look like the way we envision, for our Father is playing the long game, BUT. He is with us. He provides. He sustains. He is perfectly good, and infinitely better than we deserve. Makes me think of the ’40s film title, All This, and Heaven Too, only I would say, “heaven, and all this besides!”
The store shelves are looking a little bare these days; world leaders are looking daggers at one another. Crisis or penury could come, and we might yet find ourselves making use of our economy bath tissue. But after the last two years, I sing this refrain a little louder than I used to:
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!