Yesterday, a student came by my office at the university where I teach and asked if I could recommend a way of getting someone she liked out of her head.
"Well, you might find a new boyfriend," I quipped. "Or a hobby. That seemed to work for me."
I was too preoccupied with my own miseries at that moment to advise someone else. I'd just received a rejection on a book proposal and, within the next hour, needed to make an unpleasant phone call, attend a meeting, and get home to my daughters, Charlotte and Lulu.
That morning I'd fought with Charlotte over Lulu's hoodie, which had mysteriously disappeared beneath the piles of clothes and teenager rubble in Charlotte's room. I accused Charlotte of hiding the hoodie, and she called me a name. A fight over her messy room had been brewing for months, but I didn't like the way it had erupted. Instead of our usual exchange of threats and refusals and then a satisfyingly mutual meltdown, our fight had exploded into an unsettling blend of morning crankiness, sister-rivalry, and Charl's complaint that I never believed her. Although I'd made us both apologize before we left home, I'd felt bad all day. And in that hectic moment—going three directions at once with a lovesick student in my office doorway—I just wanted to get home and, somehow, fix everything.
Nevertheless, a chapter I'd read in Genesis that morning surged into my consciousness—God's usual way of weighing in on something—so I took a breath, rummaged for my Bible, and read my student the story.1