You know how it goes. Sometimes you reach that point where you think you cannot possibly handle one more little thing going wrong or you will lose your mind, and then that one more thing happens.
So it's been a little bit busy over here at Casa Brenninkmeyer. I love my children, every single one of them; I love sleeping in; and I love vacation. All good things. But I also become much sweeter if I get a little time to myself in the house, and we are now on week 4 of Spring Break. This is what happens when you have two different college spring breaks, a different week for the high school spring break, and then another one for the elementary school spring break. And then a break for Easter gets thrown in, and the result is EVERYTHING FEELING A LITTLE BIT OUT OF KILTER.
So that sets the stage for when my “one more thing” happened. Bailey (our double doodle) had been given an extremely ugly haircut at Petsmart, and there was no way I was going back and taking that risk again. A random stranger said that the place to get groomed in St. Augustine was the Humane Society. So without thinking for more than, oh, two seconds, I set up the appointment. In their defense, when she came home, she looked great. But then she started to scratch. And as it turned out, she had fleas. In case you're wondering, this wasn't the “one more thing.” The fact that it was one of the worst cases of fleas my vet had ever seen, the fact that the vet bill to deal with it was shockingly high, and the fact that we would need to pick the fleas off her manually for about three weeks…not even those things dampened my spirits.
The “one more thing” came when they started biting me. At this very moment, as I write this little reflection, I am gritting my teeth and doing all that I can to not scratch, because I currently have 60 (SIXTY) flea bites just from my knees down. As it turns out, it's not a very good idea to let Bailey curl up at my feet when I read/write/pay bills/whatever.
So I know I'm not supposed to scratch the bites (I grew up in Minnesota, after all, where the state bird is the mosquito), but yesterday I just couldn't bear it anymore. I decided to go have a pedicure so someone professional could scratch them/massage them and I could get some relief.
I sat at the nail salon and waited for an hour. This was incredibly irritating to me because when I'd walked in, they told me it would be twenty minutes. I thought to myself, “This is the worst. I am so over this whole thing!!!” Then I picked up a magazine and started to read.
And I was able to gain perspective. There was an article about horrific things going on in in war torn parts of the world. I read about soldiers rushing into African villages, demanding that each family give up one child to be trained as a child soldier. Can you imagine? How could you ever do it? It's unthinkable. And I'm sitting in the nail salon thinking “it's just the worst” because I am tired and itchy and am being made to wait. Well, not only that. I was also carrying some deep heartache around, and the rest of the things were just tipping me over the edge. But even so, my heartache didn't compare to what those African mothers were facing.
Perspective. What a difference it can make.
When we're frustrated or sad or weighed down with worry, our focus tends to grow more narrow. By contrast, we gain perspective when we endeavor to see things from God's point of view. He can see all the times when the things we take for granted or even complain about are things that someone else is praying for. He can see how the story will end. He can see the why behind the suffering. And although His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways…they are higher than our thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), we come closer to seeing our circumstances through His eyes when we focus on His words.
This promise of Scripture helps us gain perspective:
“After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you.” 1 Peter 5:10
His word tells us that He will restore us-He will fix and mend what is broken within us. He will establish us-He'll settle the unrest in our hearts. He'll strengthen us-He'll absorb our weakness and infuse us with His power. The suffering will not last forever. The God of all grace calls us to spend eternity with Him, and what we will receive there will be nothing but the best. So don't give up. Hang tight through the tough circumstances. Let Him hold you close through the heartache. What seemed the worst on Good Friday turned out to be God's very best. This is how He works, then, and now.
If you want a good laugh, watch this clip of comedian Tim Hawkins, That's the Worst. Give yourself a gift and buy his DVD by the same title. It's family friendly humor that helps us not take ourselves so seriously.