The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
~ Proverbs 14:1
Let me preface this post by saying I realize last week I declared complaining as my sacrifice for Lent. I wrote the post below before Lent and had planned to put it up last week, but God had other plans. As you read today’s post, I’m sure you’ll gain some insight as to why God had me choose to give up complaining.
I’m mad. I got up this morning, tired and behind schedule. I tried to run out the door before I was late to my writers’ meeting. As I turned the corner into my kitchen, frustration welled up inside of me. As the last one to come into the kitchen this morning, it was obvious no one else had bothered to close a cabinet door, seal the coffee or put one dish in the sink. The room was a disaster.
I hurried through the kitchen to the laundry room, thinking I’d put the towels I was carrying into the hamper. Maybe I could quickly pick up the kitchen before I left. As I scanned the pile of clothes lying in front of the washer, my anger surged. Why can’t anyone in this house pick up after themselves? Why do they have to throw all their clothes in the middle of the floor? Do they expect me to pick up after them? Do they not care that I have a life? I thought. Why should they? They know I’ll take care of it and they’ll come back to a neatly picked up home. Ugh!
I decided not to bother trying to sort the pile of laundry. Forget the kitchen. I just couldn’t face it, nor did I want to.
Breakfast will have to be on the run today, I thought. Grabbing the granola bar box from the pantry, I slid my thumb across the lid catching it in the cardboard and cutting a nice little gash across the cuticle. Tears sprung to my eyes as I reached for a paper towel to stop the bleeding.
My emotions were already out of control. I hadn’t made it out the door yet!
I pulled a bottled water from the fridge, picked up my purse and headed toward the back door. Turning that corner brought yet another cause to complain. The hall closet door stood open and it was a mess. Right then and there I went on strike. Let them see how much I really do in this house, I fumed. I’m not going to go behind any of them and pick up their junk, close any doors or throw away their trash. Maybe then they’ll appreciate what I do around here!
Juggling my purse, breakfast, and a bag of things I needed for the meeting, I slammed the door behind me. Tears once again smarted at my eyes. As I climbed into the car, I threw my cumbersome baggage to the passenger seat and grabbed my seat belt. Frustrated, I couldn’t get my coat out of the way to find the latch. After my fourth attempt, I threw my hands in the air and yelled to God. What is wrong with me? I can’t even put a stupid seat belt on this morning!
Finally getting situated, I pulled out of the garage as tears spilled down my cheeks. It was becoming a terrible, horrible day.
By the time I got to the meeting, I was 15 minutes late. I was not in a pleasant mood; I made sure everyone knew it. Usually I try to smile sweetly and get over myself. But not this morning. No siree. I caved to my anger and frustration, and my thumb that was still hurting.
Fortunately, this was a loving group of people who listened, sympathized and passed out hugs. I wasn’t the only one who’d had a difficult morning.
When I returned home, the house was just as I’d left it. I was tired and grouchy and I decided to ignore it and take a nap. This strike thing isn’t a bad idea, I thought as I drifted off to sleep.
I woke up when I heard my son, Jacob, come home. As he sat down and asked about my day, I didn’t have the heart to start complaining. I told him it wasn’t great and left it at that.
As the afternoon wore on, I decided I needed to try and get some work done. But when I began making progress, Jacob came in asking about supper. “Just give me 15 minutes and I’ll go fix us something,” I told him. Couldn’t he see I was working?
“Ok, Mom.” he said. ” Is there anything I can do to help you get it started?”
Wow! Actually, there was. I asked him to go ahead and put the water on for noodles. “Sure,” he quickly replied, heading to the kitchen.
Twenty minutes later he called saying supper was ready. He’d put it all together except for a vegetable. I ran in quickly to heat one up.
After supper I reflected on my terrible day. Maybe my family wasn’t so bad after all. When Jacob saw a need, he stepped in to help. As I cleared away the supper dishes, I noticed he’d already cleaned up most of the mess that had been there all day and stacked everything neatly in the sink. What little was left to do took no more than five minutes to finish.
Sometimes life gets overwhelming. We can’t see the forest for the trees, or our sweet family over their messy habits. Instead of calmly looking over the situation and realizing it wasn’t as bad as it first seemed, I immediately jumped to the conclusion a strike was the only way to get their attention. But when the time came, Jacob rose to the occasion.
Being a wife and mother can be hard. And some days are much harder than others. Satan wants us to focus only on the circumstance directly in front of us and not notice the good God has placed in our lives. He wants to steal our joy and mar our witness and, unfortunately, many days he succeeds. But today God gets the glory. He gave me the right attitude before I blew up at my son.
I’m grateful today wasn’t a day I acted foolish in front of my family by shouting accusations and causing hurt feelings. Instead, God gave me grace to see past the reasons for my frustration to the gift of family.
What grace has God given you in dealing with others lately?
Don’t forget to thank Him for it.