It’s a chilly autumn morning as I sit in my little writing nook.
My feet are cold.
It’s an old house with no insulation. Soon I’ll have to haul out the kerosene heaters. Cold feet are extremely thankful for kerosene heaters.
Since last night I’ve been deeply contemplating the skill of handling defeat.
A loved one is going through a really rough time. Blood, sweat, tears and prayers went into a goal.
The day came- the goal (a rather important one) wasn’t met.
For now anyhow.
The result was-an experience of excruciating self-doubt, feeling worthless (or close to it) and wondering if God needs a hearing aid.
I immediately jumped into prayer mode.
But while in prayer mode a curious thing happened. As I focused on my loved one, God began to show me my own heart. Secret things that I thought no one else knew about. Small seemingly insignificant failures along the recent way that I thought I handled well (by shoving under the rug and not really dealing with).
I saw how-every once and a while-more often recently-one of them would creep out from under the rug…and I’d angrily slam my foot on it. Sometimes I’d slam my foot on it a couple of times and then kick it back under that rug-so I wouldn’t have to deal with how I felt about it.
Which at this point, I’ve come to realize, was anger and disappointment (with God) for not “giving me what I wanted”. Or at least helping me a little more with it.
Um…God…this prayer isn’t really about me…so can we get back to why I came to you tonight?
No-actually, it is about you, too.
Well…can we deal with me later?
No. We’ll deal with both of you now. Sorry. (grin) Let’s just revisit the drawing board for a bit, shall we?
…that moment when you know, you haven’t hidden anything…
……….sigh……..yeah….I guess you are right….as usual……
So, for thirteen and a half hours now I’ve been sitting at the drawing board, revisiting old lessons taught and ….learned?
Here-why don’t we watch this rerun of the past few days together…..
God has the remote-not me-He pushes “play”….
—-This week-only Wednesday-seems like a month long.
Tired about sums it up. Tired and ….tired.
Don’t forget grumpy.
Halloween parties for little kids…..frantic making a thousand decorations because-you really can’t buy much here. Didn’t want to do it in the first place but all the other English teachers do it and the kids….well..they expect it. Several parties to plan for….too many conflicting schedules…to many age differences….
Sitting on the menopause roller-coaster, hair whipping out behind me…scissors in one hand, bits of sticky-glued paper stuck to every part of my body…the washing machine beeps…it’s noon and I’m still in my pajamas…hurry..hurry…it’s two in the afternoon….what”s for dinner?? I have no idea. I forgot to eat lunch, again. Well…I didn’t forget…I couldn’t fit it into my schedule.
Cell rings- it’s a parent, “can I come to the Halloween party?
SURE..I could really use the help!! (relief)
Oh, um…on second thought…I realized I can’t come. Sorry.
What? Trying to register that while thinking…. I need to pee….well, you’ll have to wait. Run…run..hurry…lots of things to do. Stop, take a quick shower-lessons at five. Take a deep breath, open the door to greet students and smiiiiile!! Lessons done….RUN! Cook dinner….cook tomorrows bento…I forgot to take down the wash! Oh…I forgot to let the dog out. Ugh. Hurry! Set the table, cell rings…Hi honey-I’m on the way home. Clean the bath, fill it. Set the table- oh, I did that already. I’m having another hot-flash. Wheee! Dinner done-you didn’t eat much, are you ok? Yeah…I’m not really hungry, I think. Dishes washed, bath done…..back to the classroom for more cutting and gluing!! Wheee!!! It’s two AM…should I sleep or just continue on?
In between the twists and turns on the ride I was thinking…..
So, this is IT? This is where I’m at now? All the hopes and dreams of moving here and this..is…it? REALLY????? (That’s an angry “really”).
We work so hard! Harder than we ever did before! Everything we have is second hand! I walk, everywhere! Even in the rain! I’ve tried so hard to learn Japanese and it just won’t stick!! I’m most always alone!! On and on….
You know…one bad, angry thought and things can snowball.
At this point “angry” takes over eye-sight and hind-sight.
Blessings? I dunno…I just see angry. Self-pity. Glued bits of gunk stuck to my head.
Blessings come tiptoeing around the corner…..pssssssst!
I know they are there…..but…I’m not talking to them right now. I don’t want to see them right now. Kicking things under rugs and stomping feet seems much more fun at the moment.
Anger laughs….this is great! Look at what we can do to her! Hey! Doubt! Self-esteem suckers…come on in! Look! LOL…shes’s a wreck….!!!
Someone bar the door and don’t let ANY of the blessings gang in here-we don’t want her to even get a whiff of them! That will spoil all our fun!
Meanwhile-outside the anger-party room…..the blessings gang formulates a plan. They start to make noise…louder…louder!! Till one tiny squeak gets through the angry-pity party noise.
The doorbell rings.
A student comes and brings me flowers that she has picked from her garden.
A wild, wonderful, delicate array of art from God’s own hand. From Him, through her, to me.
I don’t deserve it.
I’m humbled. I’m ashamed.
I pull the hand-break on the roller-coaster and get off.
I look at the flowers, examine them. Delicate speckled, tiny buds, wispy. I drink in, I savor.
I take the old tin-can I saved. My mother sent me German plum jam once and I never threw out the can. It reminds me of her and her wonderful home-made plum jam we loved as kids. Joyful memories.
I put the wild bouquet in the can. Joy and blessing in an old tin can.
Undeserved-yet freely given.
And I realize-I’ve fallen off the cliff of un-thankfulness this week. I’ve got to climb back up to the plateau of thanksgiving.
Anger, self-doubt and the self-esteem suckers gasp! I turn slowly….they cower…I begin, shakily, to utter praises of thankfulness…..they scream. I crumble in humility to the carpet and reach under, pulling out what I’ve shoved under it, examining each one and dealing with it in my heart. Coming clean. Being washed fresh.
They (anger and the gang) flee.
Repentant tears fall …..and I’m comforted by peace and joy and I’m relieved.
Ungratefulness blinds. I complained-God are you deaf? In reality it was me-both deaf and blind to all I really do have.
Yesterday my students had phrase practice. Simple stuff- they had to use phrases in a sentence.
One phrase was “if I must”.
If I must care for my aging mother-in-law, I will do it with joy.
If I must work in a hot garden filled with biting mosquitoes, I will learn to enjoy it.
If I must go to school, I will study hard.
If I must cook dinner for my parents-in law everyday, I will be thankful they are still healthy and alive.
Lessons for them and a lesson for me. All their sentences were positive.
They left. I sat quietly to digest.
Being thankful. This is the key to a joyful life. When we are thankful we are not angry. We are not questioning why things didn’t work out the way we wanted. We accept things as they are. We count our blessings. We carry on-joyfully.
Despite not having a nice vase-we find real joy, in an old tin can.
This morning as hubby was leaving…
I’ll be home early today.
I’m thinking…early? I’ve got the big party this afternoon…dinner?
Yeah-early…I figured you could use some help with the party today….he grins.
Just be thankful.
I have a feeling I’m not alone in learning these lessons.