What a weird week it has been.
To start out, I agreed to to do a job in Mississippi, a film shoot, to help my old boss be able to take Christmas week off. So all of a sudden I had a bunch more things to do to get ready for that than I would usually have, not to mention that I had the actually trip and being gone for a day and a half looming over me.
But I made lists, and I thought I could do it all — the preproduction, the phone calls, the shot list, etc. . . on top of the Christmas lists, the shopping, getting ready for the church Christmas party, finishing up the service project where we are all buying gifts for needy children in our communities.
Then my car broke. Just a little thing — I was sitting at a restaurant and I couldn’t get my key out of the ignition. But when I took it to the shop, they said it was going to be $700 to fix it. And since leaving they key in was running down the battery, I would have to leave my car at the shop. They gave me a ride home, and there I was, sitting in my house like it was an island.
And then my husband got the stomach flu. He didn’t throw up, but he was running a fever and feeling bad. Every now and then he would sigh and say, “Puke!” because it surprised him how lousy he felt.
While he slept in bed, I worked my lists. I was making good progress until in the mid afternoon. The young man I am supposed to film emailed me and said he couldn’t do the shoot after all on the day planned. He had found out he couldn’t miss class. I called him and we strategized on ways to salvage the shoot. He’s going to call me back today to tell me if it will work.
Finally, as the day wound to a close yesterday, everything started feeling fuzzy. I was coming down with the flu as well. It wasn’t terrible, I just felt out of it.
The film shoot had become a huge burden by this point. Why did I agree to do it? I wasn’t going to be able to relax until it was all squared away. Now it looked like I might have to change the day and miss my choral concert for which I’d been rehearsing for weeks. The shoot was this large specter, like a big thundercloud inside of me. I so wanted to go back to my usual orderly way of living.
There was this horrible ugly thing in me, and as I was still in bed this morning, drifting and dozing in my illness, scenes of inadequacies waking me over and over, it came to me that I have been struggling with entitlement. I resent things that aren’t going as I think they should.
But God doesn’t owe me anything. Anything I have is by His benevolent grace. Anything I have is an undeserved gift, a wonderful serendipity.
I woke up with a mild stomachache, feeling spacy but able to do things. For my time with God, I decided to go back over the chapter in Ann Voscamp’s “One Thousand Gifts” that my friends and I are reading to discuss when we next get together.
I read that Martin Luther said, “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen.” And I remembered the power of words. By writing things down, they define what the reality is.
I read, “it’s been utterly pointless to try to wrench out the spikes of discontent. Because that habit of discontentment can only be driven out by hammering in one iron sharper. The sleek pin of gratitude.”
I realized I have let my habit of discontentment overwhelm me again. I have not been using the words of gratitude to drive it out. I am not finding words of faith to define the realities around me.
So instead of working on my other lists, I list why I am thankful. I am thankful for being able to work on my Christmas cards while I rested last night. I am thankful I found some Christmas presents for family members and ordered them, for sleep, for my lighted Christmas village that Layla so enjoyed helping me create, for kisses from Ken, … I have to keep writing this list through the day.
I find verses that are heart changing:
“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
“Blessed are those who dwell in your house, they are ever praising you.”
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs.” Ps 84:10, 4, 5-6
When I set it in my heart that God is the best thing, instead of anything else I might have or desire, I am surrounded by abundance. I may seem to be in the Valley of Weeping, but the REALITY is that I am rich. Let me ever praise God with thanksgiving.
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you! Ps 84:12