Monday, March 14, 2011

Temper Tantrums

Clementine, June 2010

Temper tantrums.  Not Clementine's.  Mine.

In a nutshell, it went down something like this: my vehicle had been in the garage for weeks, my babies had been a little sick and clingy, my boy had been a little testy, the bank had shut down my debit card, and my telephones had stopped working.

Granted, I knew full well that my beloved had been trying for the same two weeks to correct my vehicle problem.  Also that I had caused the debit-card incident by trying repeatedly to conduct a $30 transaction that the bank thought fraudulent.  Also that I had misplaced my cell phone for the millionth time and hadn't bothered to look for it.  Also that I had been too frustrated to investigate the source of the home-phone problem.  (As it turned out, a receiver, upstairs, was off the hook.)

I knew all this, but--when my beloved came home and said my vehicle drove no better than it did fourteen days and $550 earlier...that the garage would revisit the problem on Monday--my winged-creature theory (see previous post) took flight, and

I melted down. 

I did not curse, but I yelled accustatory and ugly things before howling, over and over: "How did I become such a nobody that I don't even have a car, a debit card, a phone?!  Don't even pretend you understand what that nothingless is like!"

Suffice it to say, we didn't make it to church for Friday Family Fun Night, even though I'd baked a Mennonite Busy Cake from scratch.

And, last night, Jim and I didn't go to the movies for what was supposed to be our first date night in six months.  He sent me to the movies, alone.  I came home sad and (somewhat) sorry, and we talked into the wee hours of the morning and made everything ok.

Then I had another temper tantrum, this morning.

I had sprung forward with the clock, gotten dressed, and readied the babies.  I had my Bible, my Sunday-school book.  I was ready to walk out the door when I realized I didn't have the key to our one, properly-working vehicle.  I looked on the counter tops and mantle, in my pants pockets, in my jacket pockets, in Charleigh's car seat, in the truck, and on the ground; it was nowhere to be found.  I yelled ridiculous things, like: "Jesus has the key!  We're not going to find it!  Tomorrow you're going to drive the messed-up minivan to work and leave me here with the truck, and I'm still not going to be able to go anywhere because I'm not going to have a key!" and, "If God isn't going to help me at all, I'm going to stop fighting so hard to do the right things!" and, "What am I supposed to be learningWhatWhat?"

After about an hour of my yelling and our searching, Jim found the key in the pocket of the pair of pants I wore to the movies last night (not the pair of pants I had been checking).  He smiled and said: "At least we'll be early for church."

And I hissed: "Don't you say that!  Don't say that!  You don't know that, yet!"  And, sure enough, Clementine had a nasty, I've-been-taking-antibiotics-stinky blow-out, and we got to church exactly at 11.  At 11:03, I slid behind my pastor and into the choir loft.  Late again.  (Always late.)  Defeated, discouraged, worn down.  Still feeling all nobodylike and nothingish, and angry about it.  And...

You know, this space belongs to me, and I can paint myself any old way I want.  I really can.  I don't have to admit to the feelings I had this morning.  If I don't, I am much more likely to receive more inquiries regarding the Source of my happiness and peace.  But I think it's so important to paint myself as myself: my oft frustrated, impatient, overwhelmed self because--truth be told--I suspect that, sometimes, everyone feels just the way I did this morning.  And if I don't paint myself as my true self, the rest of the story has no meaning. 

The rest of the story is the best part.

As my pastor prayed, my girlfriend just to the right put her arm around me and drew me close, and I leaned against her and cried into her hair.  In that moment, she became Jesus to me.  And I heard God speak into my heart:

Brandee.  Isn't Karen everybody to you right now?  Isn't she the only person to you right now?  Is her job, vehicle, phone, or debit card making her my very hands and feet right now?  No: of course not!  You don't need a job, a working vehicle, telephones, a debit card, or money at all! to be somebody.  All you need to be somebody, a real somebody, is an open heart and open arms. 

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