Have you ever had one of those not-going-as-planned weeks? The week before last, I did.
The Bad Ticket and Everything Else
“Mommy, why did the police officer give you a bad ticket?” the kids asked.
“Well, he gave it to me because he is an evil bastard trying to up his quota of making people miserable by sitting there just to check the stickers on every vehicle in the line of cars as they inch past him. He is a bad, bad cop.”
That was one way I could answer the question. But, I am trying to model respect and not blame-shift. Who cares if I don’t like the law? It was obvious I was guilty sitting there with last year’s sticker.
Instead I answered, “Why did he give me a bad ticket? That is because the rules say I have to get my van checked every year to make sure it is safe to drive. And I forgot and didn’t take my car to the car Dr. to get it checked. I don’t like getting it checked anyway, because our car is so old, it might not pass the tests.”
Of course, for the next eight hours or so, Avi would tell anyone who we saw that mommy got a bad ticket from the police officer because life is exciting like that.
But, trying to look on the bright side, that only did last just eight hours because something more exciting happened to tattle on mommy about. Yep, mommy turned her back on little baby Eli and he rolled right off the changing table, doing what I presume was a double flip, landing on his back facing the opposite direction.
What fun. Elijah got to go on his first trip (and hopefully last) to the ER. After the practitioner assured me that her baby too had rolled off a changing table, she concluded that my sweet still-cooing (but now also grimacing) baby had slightly fractured is collar bone, which really isn’t terribly uncommon and heals within a week on little kids. So, besides letting him rest more, giving him acetaminophen to guzzle, and not grabbing him by his shoulder (which Elijah did not like), he would be just fine.
So by the time my van didn’t pass the safety test I wasn’t surprised. Of course it would be that within 26 hours, I’d manage to find a reason to spend nearly one thousand dollars on things I didn’t really want to spend our savings on.
And, to make matters much more aggravating, our internet (and with it, T.V.) went out and they couldn’t fix it for days.
I needed to let my baby rest.
I couldn’t escape on adventures, driving far away with a wheel about to fall off and my van belt slipping.
I didn’t have my connection to my online community or the projects I was working on through the internet being out.
Then, of course, my husband seemed to have meeting after meeting, which didn’t make me into a happy person. Tired husband + lack of quality time + trapped with few breaks from kids + no external outlets = a probable outcome of a crazy woman.
I know I am not dying of hunger and my kids aren’t being trafficked and people aren’t burying IEDs in my backyard or coming at me with machetes because I am of an anglo-saxon race. But, for me, relative to my own life, it wasn’t a good week.
Misery is Optional
I have a very unique yellow button I once found the first (and last) time I visited an antique store with a toddler:
Now I don’t know who Reggie is, but I am guessing this is an inside joke between best-buds, or it was like a super popular quote from some famous person that is a few years older than me. Regardless, it is a light-hearted reminder that attitude is everything, and wallowing is a choice you don’t have to choose.
Recently I have been actively trying to live life with God, and have my hope be in Him, rather than my circumstances. I guess if hope is looking forward to something that you don’t have, then it would be wise to hope only in what is sure. And what is NOT sure, is for things going the way I want them to.
Sometimes, we are like the toddlers we don’t want to bring into antique stores, throwing internal misery tantrums when we don’t get what we hope for. Of course, I am not saying this to declare our misery unfounded. In fact, I would say more often than not, when I am unhappy, it is because there is a legit reason to be mad, frustrated, depressed and/or broken-hearted.
But despite its track record, we think the world will magically poop out rainbows and pots of gold for us. It seems that life in this world blatantly screams with a crazed, cackling, nutty dodo bird laugh, “Chaos! Berkah! Chaos for you, you and you! Squawk! Have fun trying to control-freak this! Berkah-Squawk!” God didn’t promise us happy-perfect-go-lucky lives either, although He loves us. He only promised the most amazing thing ever: That if we walk with Him, somehow we can have joy and peace, and life to the fullest in even the worst situations.
Now, learning to walk with Him is the whole hard thing. But, this week, this chaotic week of bad, I was going to try. I wanted my hope to be in that promise. Although sometimes it feels justified and right to wallow in self-pity and misery, this week I wanted to be happy when I didn’t get what I wanted. I wanted to experience real joy. I want to be like Paul, so ethereally looking at the bigger, more glorious-than-my-situation God, that I could say:
“. . . for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11b-13 NLT
I don’t think Paul forced himself to be content when shipwrecked, being beat-up, or sentenced to death by saying “Happy, happy, happy. I should be happy now. Look at all I have. Now. Magic. BE THEE HAPPY, Paul! You can do it! Dang it, Paul, hope in God already!” Nope. I think he had this mystical connection with God, experiencing God, focusing on God, able to actually like and trust God. It was through that secure relationship, that hope and excitement knowing he had someone to look forward to, which made Paul content in it all.
It must be a little like being in love. Lovers get through their day, looking forward to when they can next see each other, or send a note, or text, or see a picture, or talk on the phone together until they fall asleep. If lovers are left with nothing, stranded on a desert island, they are just fine because they eat and drink each other and are overstuffed. Right?
They be, we be, like lovers. God and Paul. God and I. Just work with my analogies here, would’ja?
So instead of trying to control the chaos this bad week, I experimented trying to find hope in living with God and let it go.
(To end, cue Frozen sing-along here)
Or if you aren’t into Frozen, this might do instead:
On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand
Words by Edward Mote (1797-1874)
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name. Refrain: On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand. 2. When Darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. (Refrain) 3. His oath, his covenant, his blood supports me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay. (Refrain) 4. When he shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in him be found! Dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne! (Refrain)