Journal 2005. This week my computer crashed, and I lost all my emails, contacts, and reminders. I was doing ok with this fiasco till I had to redo the last three months of our family finances because I’d not backed up my info. Grrr! Last night, I dreamt I had to carry two bags of stinky garbage across town and even had to pay for some transportation along the way. How’s that for a visual! A grumbly attitude stinks like garbage.
I remember chafing years ago when Scott suggested we use a computer program to keep track of the bills. Data input seemed like such a waste of time, useless busy work, but I soon discovered balancing the checkbook was a breeze, resulting in time saved. Wasting time feels like jumping onto a speeding bullet train.
Now the train has slowed enough for me to hop on, but I feel resentment for having to get on that train in the first place. I’d rather stay on the platform and let someone else take the trip! I feel like a maid. I don’t want to leave the platform because after the train ride, I know I have to return to maid duty, and no will have picked up the slack in my absence. And to add insult to injury, I have to do maid service while I’m on the train! Feels like double duty with no overtime pay.
And so I confess my attitude in all its rottenness. I lug two bags of garbage to the dump at one of the stops. But when I unsuccessfully strain to heave a third, I peek inside and discover large, bright ingots of gold! The Master Garbage Keeper asks why I want to throw my gold away? I watch as He stacks it on a shelf with my name on it.
All the time I thought I was doing maid service, I was stacking up treasure in heaven. Wow! So my attitude suddenly changes. I now have a secret, a goal, a treasure to work for. I’ll finish that data input with gratitude.
A 2021 Update. Computers have come a long way in the past 16 years and, thankfully, we have more options for backup. But other technology malfunctions can still try my patience.
From my 2013 Journal. A few years ago I bought a granny-type bicycle with roomy baskets over the rear tire. It’s ideal for quick trips to our Kroger just four blocks away. One day when I wheeled my loaded grocery cart out to my bike, I realized that I’d overshot my basket capacity.
I knew my husband had to leave the house early the next morning to pick up a co-worker at the Nashville airport, drive the 45 minutes back home to pick me up, drive to Chattanooga, pick up another co-worker, and then we all planed to head on to his former boss’s funeral. Reluctantly, I called Scott to see if he could come load the groceries into his car.
Though hurting and grumpy, Scott playfully followed me home, while I groused that I felt like I was being stalked! Scott couldn’t hear it, but from my bicycle’s vantage point, I noticed a funny noise coming from the front of his car. When we discovered a large spike embedded in the tire, Scott raced to Firestone just before the place closed for the day to get it patched.
If we’d woken to a flat tire the next morning, the whole day’s schedule would have been a disaster.
Thank you, Lord, for orchestrating this event in spite of our poor attitudes!
From my 2009 Journal. I’m still learning what is appropriate and what isn’t in relationship with a newly-adult child under our roof. Is it reasonable to expect our daughter to pick up after herself in family living areas? To help with the dishes? With cooking? With cleaning the house? And if she chooses not to, when is it permissible to speak to her about it? I realize communication at this point can be tricky. My expectations and desires for a neat and tidy house must be subservient to maintaining relationship. Therefore, I am far more tolerant of mess than I would be if I were still trying to train her.
Living in a dorm situation she discovered firsthand what it feels like to have a roommate who never assists in the kitchen. So when she came home from college, I was delighted to hear of her intentions to help out more in the kitchen. But if she’s too tired to help out for a couple days, why do I hold her to her good intentions? Why do I feel resentful when I return home to find breakfast dishes still in the sink? So she slept late that day, worked the entire day, and ran out of energy before the work was done after supper . . . I do not fault her, but I do have to figure out why I feel what I do and what is an appropriate response.
VISUAL: As a young mom, I had three girls in a wagon, and I was pulling with all my strength, trying to get them to follow me. If I tried to get them out of the wagon to assist or to walk on their own, they whined and cried “We’re too tired!” and then they pushed and shoved and fought each other. What am I doing wrong?
How did a friend of mine get her children out of the wagon and behind the thing or in front to help? I don’t know. I just know that I have to quit pulling. It’s time I drop the wagon handle and walk away. There’s work to be done. The trick now is not to become resentful or nagging or whining myself.
The trouble is when people in the wagon get comfortable there, they begin to expect you to bring their food to them and clean the playpen for them. But now they’re old enough to clean their own area . . . and they don’t, and I trip over the toys and have to clean around them. It’s a perpetual issue with a husband too (sorry Scott). Relationships are messy!
I feel so many times like a Martha. Lord have mercy, and God forgive me!
So . . . I can “whistle while I work.” Praise God that I have two arms and two hands. Praise Him that I’m not in a wheelchair and unable to stand at the sink. Change my attitude and enjoy the brief time I have with my daughter. What’s a little mess matter when I can have her company. She’ll soon be gone and I’ll miss her.
Years ago, Scott and I attended a concert at the Tivoli Theatre in Chattanooga. I don’t remember now which groups performed, but the lyrics from an old Gospel song stuck with me for a long time. The refrain was “I don’t have to . . . I get to.”
Here’s a sample from my own list:
I don’t have to cook meals for my family . . . I get to.
I don’t have to pray for people . . . I get to.
I don’t have to clean the toilets . . . I get to.
I don’t have to love my enemies . . . I get to.
Another good phrase to use is: Isn’t it great that . . . ?
Isn’t it great that we have dirty dishes? It means we have food to eat.
Isn’t it great that my hair is frizzy today? It means I have hair!
Isn’t it great that it’s raining today? It means that the flowers are drinking.
Isn’t it great that I have a toilet to clean? It means I don’t have to squat over a hole in the ground (seriously)!
From My 2009 Journal. I was in a bathroom stall at the Orlando airport on my way home from my mom’s memorial service when I had an epiphany.
The hook on the back of the door was missing, and my first thought was, How annoying! Where am I supposed to hang my purse?
Now, I didn’t want to be a complainer about insignificant occurrences in my life—a hook on a door compared to death and dying . . . a little thing like that should not have controlled my emotions!
And so I started searching for the right word—because “annoying” or “frustrating” or “irritating” were really too strong to describe what I was actually feeling inside. I wanted a neutral word. That’s when I thought of “inconvenient.”
The circumstance is inconvenient.
How I feel about the circumstance may be annoying, frustrating, irritating.
And so, with the change in vocabulary, there was a shift in my attitude. I would call it what it was and acknowledge that the circumstance was less than ideal, but I didn’t have to have a negative response to it.