Crazy. That’s what we do at our house. We do it pretty well. We’re gifted at crazy. We even have a dog that I’m convinced has a split personality. I recently told the story of getting a 2nd degree burn in my kitchen. What I didn’t tell was that a spaghetti squash exploded on me. Yeah. I’m not making this up. Vegetables are supposed to be the good food, but at my house they like to explode instead. My chance of convincing the Fam to eat healthy has come and gone, even though strands of exploded spaghetti squash keep turning up.
Crazy can be fun…until life gets really, really crazy. Then it just gets stressful. Stress is something we all try to live with. Sometimes we do ok and other times not so much. I was listening to a message recently by Beth Moore about stress and anxiety and one of the most enlightening things I heard was that anxiety can lead to anger. Uh Huh! Can you see that? You are running late for work and you can’t find your keys. You’re stressed and anxious and then your kid can’t find the homework that you told them to put in their backpack last night. If you weren’t stressed, you might say, “think about where you had it last…” and help them find it. But you’re stressed! Are you kidding me, who has time to say something sane like that? So what do we say instead? I won’t make you tell me if I don’t have to tell you…because I bet neither of us really want to know. It’s too embarrassing.
Anxiety and the connection with anger is CRAZY. Really crazy. I’m just thinking over the past 2 weeks of my life. My son, whom I home school, started high school and we revamped his entire program. My husband found out he had Melanoma. A squash exploded on me and burned my hand, arm, foot, shoulder and chest. I end up at the burn center and 2 days later my husband has an appointment at the Cancer Institute to find out how bad the cancer is. My mom comes to visit and stays to help me get into my mummy bandage suit every day and I end up taking her to the ER with a compression fracture in one of her vertebrae. That’s just what’s happening at home. We aren’t even talking about work, kid’s activities, church, school or homework. Meanwhile, my autistic daughter has started a new school year, and between the visiting family, Mommy’s mummy suit, Dad’s appointments, new kids in the class and all my other kids starting school, she begins to have complete meltdowns of crying, hitting her head and screaming because her routine is toast. And the swimming pool chimed in and turned green. Yeah, crazy. That’s what we do here.
What is really funny, is that when life gets insanely crazy like this I can usually hold it together pretty good…until the printer runs out of ink… or the tv remote is missing…or I pour a bowl of cereal only to find that someone put an empty milk carton in the fridge…or I peel a boiled egg only to have an egg-shell stab me and bleed into my lunch. Then the autistic kid in my house isn’t the only one who is melting down. Please…somebody…tell me you lose it over the little things too. Anybody?
It makes me think of that verse in Isaiah 40:31 – “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Have you ever noticed that they run without growing tired but walk without passing out?! You think it would be the other way around, but friends, sometimes the little things, the day-to-day, is what really gets our goat. It’s what is hardest sometimes and we really need the most stamina for. The little things can grate on us and stretch us to the breaking point. And then we explode faster than a steamy spaghetti squash.
Anxiety leads to anger. And we all know that anger leads to trouble and hurt. If we could just live out 1 Peter 5:7 – “Give all your worries (anxieties) and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
I started thinking that given all the things that we could be anxious about in our life right now that we really needed to be proactive and maybe you do too. It’s two-fold. First, give your worries to God in prayer and second, focus on what you have instead of what is wrong. A few years ago I read “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp and every night at dinner our family started listing the things we were grateful and thankful for. It took a couple of months to get to 1000 but it was a great journey. A few days ago I laid a notebook on the counter and we started over. The kids are older now and most of them can write their own thankful things in the notebook. We talk about it at dinner but I also look each night to find that my kids are writing in things throughout their days. My 6-year-old asked me to write down “clocks”. She is thankful for clocks because we wouldn’t know what time it is without them! 🙂 My 8-year-old is thankful for animals. They are both thankful for mud. My 12-year-old is thankful for her teachers. My 15-year-old is thankful for all the elements on the periodic table and is not thankful that I only gave him one spot to write that down and wouldn’t let him list them all individually. Nerd.
But life is better since we started counting our gifts again. When we focus on what we have instead of what we don’t. When we remember all that is right instead of zeroing in on what is wrong. When we live grateful for the blessings God has given us. Are all the stressors still here? Yes, my pool is still green and my husband still has a surgery to go through. But even though the stressors are still here a lot of the stress is actually gone. Thanksgiving. It is the remedy when life gets crazy.