This seems to be the week for me to discuss some local friends that God has placed in my family’s life. On Monday, in a post called “Encouraged by the church again“, I shared a very encouraging thank-you note that one friend gave me. On Tuesday, in a post called “Relationships and Ministry“, I shared the story of another friend who was meeting with believers closer to his home and serving with them. Then, on Friday, in a post called “Exhortation to remain faithful…” (the title was much too long), I discussed a passage that was brought up by my friend Leah. So, here is another one…
I (and other friends) recently received an email from a friend of ours. She gave me permission to publish her email here. I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent. I hope it encourages (and convicts) you as it did to me.
Dear Friends… I’ve had quite a day… I thought I’d share.
How insanely small is my perspective? How incredibly short-sighted am I? How quick am I to anger? How tiny are the things that I let get to me? How unaware am I of what is important? Let me tell you… it is small, short, quick, tiny, and very.
My husband and I have had a kind of tough week. We’ve been bickering about just about everything. We both feel kind of beat up and worn out. Let me give you an example of what we bicker about. My husband gets home from UPS at 10:30PM. I tell him that I might be able to pick up a Wednesday night shift at the restaurant. He says “will you please pick it up, we need the extra money”. My response should have been “Sure darling dearest! I want to help our family in any way I can” Can you guess what my response was? I bet you can’t! I said “I JUST SAID I WAS GOING TO PICK IT UP!” and then I continued with my madness with, “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’D ASK ME TO WORK MORE THAN I ALREADY AM!” For clarification purposes you should know that I don’t work more than 20 hours a week at the restaurant so this is a ludicrous statement from the get go. Of course at this point my husband must be thinking, “Who is this person? What did I say? Are we having the same conversation?” As you can imagine, knowing me, the rest of the conversation continued downhill.
These are not rare occasions that I decide to over-react. I know you are all thinking “You? Over-react? NO!!” But it’s true, I am too quick to anger. Another example from today: I was working and a couple came at 11:00 (what time we open). They didn’t leave until 3:00 (an hour after I’m usually gone). The couple occupied one of my four tables for my entire shift and they left me four dollars, less than 20%. I was LIVID! I told all my co-workers how mad I was and that I can’t believe how rude people are sometimes. As soon as I left, I called my husband and told him how mad I was and that I CANNOT believe these people… “if I ever see them come in again I’m going to tell them to go sit in someone else’s section!”
Remember, I am in my car at this point, driving home from work. About ten seconds after I get off the phone with my husband I hear this loud crash. I can’t see what happened because there is a garbage truck right in the middle of the intersection ahead of me. All the cars in front of me started going around this truck when the light turns green, and I start thinking, “Great! Stupid man can’t drive and now I’m not going to make it through this green light!” I do make it through the light, and on the other side of this truck I see glass everywhere. I see people on the other side of the highway jumping out of their cars and running towards me. I see the truck driver grabbing a fire extinguisher and jumping out of his truck. I look to my right as I continue to pass the truck and I see what used to be a Toyota Camry. I see a fire. I see that the drivers side door is now somewhere on the passenger’s side of the car. I see that there is no way that anyone is getting out of this car alive. And then, I don’t see anything at all because I can’t stop the hot tears from gushing down my face. I start screaming “GOD, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, let them know You!!”
I keep driving home because I know that there is nothing that I can do. I just cry and pray and cry. I keep thinking, somebody just lost a brother, or a sister, or a daughter, or a son, or a friend, or a husband, or a wife. After several minutes of those thoughts I begin to personalize the shock. I begin to think about what my husband and I have been arguing about. I begin to think about all the opportunities to do what was right that I passed up. I think about all the times I consider calling my mother or sister but don’t because I’m just too tired. I start to see how selfish I am, and how careless I am with my words. I see that I have this unconscious attitude of being unbeatable. I can’t die, or be hurt, or lose an argument. I see that I think I deserve so much. I deserve a bigger tip. I deserve a better section. I deserve a bigger thank you. I deserve for my husband to tell me to put my feet up. I deserve a vacation from my 20 hours a week. I deserve only green lights. I don’t think about how I deserve hell. I don’t think about how God provides, not the people who come camp out in the restaurant. I don’t think about how my husband works 60 hours a week. I don’t think about how much I’ve been given. I am alive, I have my parents, I have my Savior, I have a healthy beautiful nephew, I have loving in-laws, I have a sister who would walk through fire for me, I have a husband who works 60 hours a week so that I can work 20 and take care of our house… so that I can be what I’ve always wanted to be when I grow up, a wife and a mother, I have a church body that bends over backwards every time we have a “crisis”, I have friends that laugh with me, I have so much more than I deserve. Nothing in this world teaches us that we don’t deserve a single good thing. We are taught that we deserve a new car, we deserve a big house, we deserve a family, we deserve, deserve, deserve… So often in my arguments with my husband this phrase is said, “I DON’T DESERVE TO BE TREATED THIS WAY!” Well sure you do! You deserve a lot worse!
I have a problem with anger. I have a problem with my temper. I have a problem with forgetting the lessons that I learn. I will probably lose this shock-induced clarity in about a week. I just wanted to share this with you so that maybe you could have a week of clarity with me. Maybe this time it will stick, maybe our perspectives will change. Or maybe we just need to help remind each other of what really matters.