I have come to a realization about myself recently, thanks to some discussions with Tink, and it is that I refuse to put a judgment call on the quality of a day that I am alive for. There are many dead who would love to be alive for the shit things that happen to good, hardworking people (like some people I know, but this isn’t %100 accurately describing me) and it’s not my right to say what a day is, especially if it’s in a negative way, because I’m alive and God is good.
For instance, the other day was full of interesting and ironic evidentiary support that would have given me the green light to make a quick verdict on its quality. It all began when I woke up.
My alarm went off three times, as it is likely to do when I set three alarms so that I can convince myself that it’s ok to sleep in some more because I’ll have plenty of time to do what I need when I wake up, I’ll just skip breakfast, or skip a shower, or skip putting on makeup. What I don’t generally include in the list of skip-ables would be necessities such as brushing my teeth and using the toilet before I leave. After finally convincing myself that it was important to wake up, even though my body didn’t think it was, I realized I needed to pee in a major way. Sometimes when I wake up it’s quite imperative for me to use the restroom, and generally things go smoothly, or as smoothly as they can when I stumble into the door frame on the way in, which can almost make me pee myself. But this morning the door to the bathroom was locked. I stared at the door handle for a moment in a state of bewilderment, then looked at the light switch, which is the other signal that someone is in the bathroom. It was turned off. Now I was not just puzzled, I was irate. Someone had locked the bathroom door when they left the bathroom? Who would do that? Don’t they know? Don’t they understand that other people have to pee too?
I hurried to the first floor bathroom and while finally draining my tension I realized that if the door really were accidentally locked from the inside there would be a big problem in my day: no access to my toothbrush. My anxiety level rose a bit, then I calmed myself with a plan: if I can’t get to my toothbrush I go to CVS when I get to Concord and get a travel one and travel toothpaste, till then I have some gum and that’ll help a bit. This plan did indeed get put into action, as I never managed to get into the bathroom this morning and had to be at work for 8:30am. I should add that, while it’s a pain to have to buy another toothbrush (or two, it was a two pack) it is a really cool toothbrush! It folds in on itself, but it’s not ugly and it’s a relatively good size! When I showed my boss she thought it was really cool too, and I’m going to end up stashing one with my initials on it at work when I figure out where to put it so it doesn’t get used.
My work went well, I got to make a pretty sick display showing off our Saint Patrick’s day Irish Car Bomb kits, and my boss really liked it. Then around 10am I got a call from my building’s manager asking me about the rent. See, my boss was sick and busy and didn’t get the paychecks done yesterday, so I got paid today. But rent was due yesterday and I forgot to call my property manager to tell him I’d be a little late. I assured him that he would have the rent and half-security deposit owed by the evening and he was all set. Then, about an hour later, I got call at work, as in the call was on my work’s phone. The woman who owns the building asked me about the rent and security deposit owed because she and her husband are living in Florida and live off the rent money, and because I was late with mine they were not going to eat that day, their phone was going to be turned off and they were going to be kicked out of where they were, etc. I told her I had talked to the property manager, and she asked me if I could overnight her the check for rent and security deposit owed. I said sure, and that was that. Shortly after hanging up the phone I realized that I didn’t have my checkbook on me, and that getting out of work at 4pm would make it hard to get to the post office in time for an overnight check when the train to take me home to get my check book and the train to get me back to Concord were almost 2 hours apart. That wouldn’t even get me to the bank! My immediate reaction was extreme anxiety, the kind that makes me pretty much useless. I decided I’d have to leave work early, and was in panic mode until the paychecks arrived, then talked to my coworkers and realized that if I left early they would be short a person and everything would be shot to hell! So I made a smart decision: I called Pilot. I had a feeling he wouldn’t be up to much, and sure enough he wasn’t! He agreed to help me out by driving me to and fro for my errands, which calmed me a bit and saved my ass from a major problem.
In the midst of this upheaval, I started praying. It was a weird prayer progression, seeing as it went something like this: “Really, God? Really? Ok. I’m stressed! Help me! I know you might not do something to make the situation change, but can’t you just make me a non-stressor-type person? Please? Ok, help me already? … God, give me strength. God give me peace and calm. God, help me.”
I tried to think of some verses to calm myself like I was doing a few weeks ago but I couldn’t think of one entirely. It was really weird, I would try to think one to myself and it would go something like “God gives us peace… no wait, it was Peace I give you, my peace I give, no wait, it was My peace I leave with … ” followed by a weird fade out to a black abyss of stress. When I called Pilot I asked God that my decision to call him was one that was in His plan and not just a human choice trying to make things work correctly. And I don’t know for sure, but it seemed to be more of a God-plan thing, since I got all my errands done on time and didn’t have to leave work early, and afterwards I spent some time with Pilot and had some food and went into a delirium and I think that I cheer him up sometimes. I know that getting him to enjoy himself made me enjoy myself, which balanced out the day really well.
Back to the display I did for work: I spent a good amount of time making the signs for the window, in the process getting ink-chalk all over my hands which made my coworker ask if I were bruised or had a disease, and I used crates and packing hay to make the kits look as though they were a shipment from somewhere seedy. When I put together the Irish Car Bomb kits I used wire to bind the booze, then to make little shamrocks. It was fairly easy for me, but what took me 10 minutes took the boys that put the rest of the kits together an hour. My boss was super happy with it, my coworkers thought it was great, and yet! The first comment I got on it was negative.
A guy was buying two of the beers that we used in the kits, and I asked “Oh, not a fan of Irish Car Bombs?”
He stared at me. I fidgeted. Gestured in the direction of the display.
“Irish Car Bombs?”
“That’s not funny. I have friends that died from those.”
I heard a pin drop onto a feather mattress.
“They still serve them in bars.”
I had no idea that crickets were outside during this hour!
“I didn’t mean to offend…”
I bagged his groceries and he was on his way, no words to be spoken to me again. I honestly feel that these situations are more likely to happen on a day when I’m feeling overwhelmed, the days when everything is coming at me, just to kick me when I’m down. The good news is that his comment didn’t affect the display, and we sold most of the kits.
Notice, with each of these stories there is a plus side at the end. I realized, even in my stressed out and dizzy mind at the time that these things were inconsequential when it came to how I should be feeling, and I ended up laughing a fair amount that day. A verse came to mind while I was writing this, and I didn’t even realize it was a real verse until I looked it up.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10
The joy of the Lord is our strength? What does that even MEAN?
Joy – The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or by the prospect of possessing what one desires
The well-being of God is secure, he is all-powerful.
The success of God is evident, immediate, and yet to come, seeing as he wins all over the place now in our lives and in the future will play out the finale in epic strides.
The prospect of possessing what God desires is fulfilled and yet left wanting, because he desires us.
Strength – Capacity for exertion or endurance, power to resist force, power of resisting attack
So our ability to keep our hearts humble, our ability to keep our voices lifted in praise, our ability to resist temptation, our ability to heed to God’s discipline; the strength needed is to be found in the Lord’s joy, which is in himself, his works, and his desire to be close to his people.
This is my new favorite mantra. The last one was John 14:27, which reminded me in the midst of an anxious and stressful time that the peace of Christ Jesus is his gift to us, to me. Now I am trying to constantly remember, on the days that friends let me down and break my heart, on the days when I haven’t gotten enough sleep, when I’m really bored with praying for the same things over and over because I don’t know what else to say about them and nothing is happening, on the Sundays that I can’t get to church because I have to work, during visits with family that end in me making my mother cry, when I don’t want to read the bible because I’m more interested in doing anything else, when I’m super jealous of the rich snobby girl who gets to own two Rebecca Minkoff purses and a wallet, when I really miss my dog: The joy of the Lord is my strength. I can get through none of these things on my own, and the more I steep myself in his presence the more I choose his joy over my emotions. And let me tell you, his joy is better than my emotions, especially since they are usually sinful. And in the same way that getting into the prayer habit has reduced my stress and anxiety over silly things, getting into the joy of the Lord gives me the ability to keep on truckin’.