I Lost my Cool…

Scrawny legs pumped wildly at the end of the bed, and I rolled heavily, sighing deeply and repeating Mr. Costanza’s “Serenity Now” inside my head as Anika shrieked ridiculously. It was hot, and the air was heavy with misbehavior. Today was going to be a long day, ending a long week, while Nick did his “work at home” gig we had so looked forward to on a roof in Chicago…work where? Home? Right…too good to be true.
The day went on, blistering hot, full of bickering, unnecessary messes, hurt feelings, all punctuated with a plastic Goody hairbrush being hurled at my temple and a pool of vomit the size of the Pacific two feet short of the toilet. I lost my cool a few (hundred) too many times.  I just needed something- some grace would be good. You know? Like when the person behind me at the light saw me batting wildly toward the back of my car, twisted unnaturally over the back of the seat (I hope he thought a wasp was in the car, but in reality, I was threatening the passengers)- he could have honked nicely to let me know the light had changed rather than race around me flashing the finger. Didn’t he understand I was alone with three kids in the midst of a Michigan heat wave and my kitchen had dishes piled to heaven and I couldn’t find one of my “good” pair of undies in the drawer? Come on, dude, show some empathy! Life is hard! Or when Nick texted me a picture of the friend’s yard where he is staying, with its serene deck overlooking a lake. I get it- he’s on an all-expense paid vacation, lounging by the pool and sitting at restaurants ordering for one. Nice. My pity party continued.
I’m going to admit this right now…I am a pretty big baby when things repeatedly don’t go my way. And when that happens, I want the world to bend to me- offer me to go ahead in line when you see me at Aldi’s with three necessary items and kids rolling on the floor under my feet; give me a sympathetic look rather than a glare when I show up eight minutes late for a dentist appointment; listen to my story while we sit at the playground so I can vent uninterrupted. Don’t you people know I’ve had a rough day/week/month?! See- I’m a whiny, weak baby sometimes. Maybe I don’t deserve to go first in line or to have an offer for some free childcare, but that grace sounds pretty nice in those moments.
The problem is this: I am not very quick to offer grace to others. Nick’s “vacation”? He has spent every day this week on a raging hot roof in a questionable part of Chicago working to fulfill a customer request that could change the course of his business, and I’m home jealous of the ten minute reprieve he had in the backyard while I lie on the couch choosing to ignore work to watch an obnoxious wedding show on TV. The secretary who was less than friendly? While I’m simmering about why she is being so unfriendly, she is trying to recover from an angry meeting with her boss. My own child who is having a full-fledged fit in the story over the unfairness of not buying a $50 Baby Alive (who created those, anyway?) is really missing her daddy and had trouble falling asleep last night. Fill in this blank with any of the people you have encountered this week who frustrated you. Now reimagine that situation with some grace sprinkled over it. I know that my week would look clearly different.
This is one of the problems with modern American Christians. We should have a better understanding of grace than anyone if we truly understand the character of Christ, but we don’t show it very well. We are impatient. We want our own way. We use our own preferences to control situations. We do not show grace. How often do I give up any of the following: my place in line, my worship preference, my schedule, even my attitude or agenda to show unmerited favor to someone who may or may not deserve it? Should it matter if they are whiny, jerky, bossy, misinformed? Nope- see my day above? Some people have worse days than that every single day. They are probably just barely hanging on; they’ve given up on grace, or worse, have never even seen it. I think I might have to bust out my dingy, purple 1990s WWJD bracelet here to remind myself that I know that I live daily covered in grace. I know I am and will be forgiven. I know that the problems of this world are temporary. And if I know all that, how can I let a hurled hairbrush take it all away? And if I know all that, why can’t I share it a little more freely with my family, my friends, even strangers?

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