Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Freezer Fiasco: A Lesson in Patience

It was not a pretty sight--or smell. I must have neglected to fully shut our standing freezer days ago. The stench of rotten meat alerted us something was wrong. We opened the freezer to find oozing, thawed pork and beef.

We'd just walked in the door after being gone for 5 hours, running errands with the kids. The girls were cranky and tired, and the baby just wanted some quality play time after being cooped up in his car seat all afternoon. But, we had Emergency #1 to attend to.

As I tried to hold the baby and take stock of what to toss and what to keep--and where to put the non-spoiled meat while we cleaned and defrosted the freezer--my five-year-old poked her head into the basement, crying. "There's no paper to draw on!" (She has a lovely habit of crying for no apparent reason, multiple times a day, which would test pretty much any parent's patience reserves.) After asking if she'd looked in the usual spots, we determined there was no more paper around, and I decided to go upstairs to the craft closet to see what I could find.

I didn't find the paper. I did find that the dog had thoroughly christened the cream carpet--evidently, his intestinal "bug" wasn't all better, as we had hoped. Enter Emergency #2. I walked back downstairs, still toting the baby, to break the bad news to my husband, who was barely started on the freezer fiasco. "How bad is it?" he asked.

"Ummm, I'm not sure," I hedged, not wanting to stress him more.

In the meantime, our five-year-old had escalated into full-on wailing about the paper for her drawing. That was the straw that broke my usually calm husband's back. "Go to your room!" he bellowed.

I have to admit it. It's usually me that loses my cool, but I'm pretty good in crisis mode. I whisked the kids away for a while and got them settled, while checking in periodically on my husband and doing what I could to help.

My patience isn't typically tested in so dramatic a fashion, but it is tugged on a daily basis by little hands. A  baby who sometimes seems to go from one messy diaper to a feeding to just wanting attention--all while his older sisters are needy and dinner somehow has to get on the table. A project deadline and a morning blocked off for work when a child gets sick. A full to-do list barely touched at the end of the day--and though I hardly sat down, I can't remember what I've done, much less why I didn't get around to most of the things on the list.

But the worst thing I can do is feel sorry for myself. Corinthians 6 (emphasis below, mine) helps puts it all into perspective. Paul's hardships make mine look pathetically minuscule; his determination is a source of inspiration.

We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

2 Corinthians 6: 3-10

Dear Lord, please give me patience. Help me to keep going even when the going is tough. I know you test me; you wear away at the hard edges of ego and jagged terrain of selfishness; you smooth and polish my soul with each hardship I endure and each difficulty I surmount. Allow me to accept the bumps in the road with grace and determination and help me to put it all into perspective, knowing what is truly important and what is not. Amen.

Image: Maggie Smith / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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