Courage for Tedium

(Preview: Chatter letter from the Editor, September 2011.)

Right now there is a man with a bad attitude in my house. I don’t know why he is so testy, but I am grateful for the opportunity to use the word “testy.” Well, maybe I do have a small idea. He is, at this very moment, applying tint to our sunroom windows on a day when it’s 115 degrees in the shade and mosquitoes are turning in their man cards because even they can’t bear it. This man is from a company purported to have the best customer service in the business — which I’m coming to doubt given that his earlier counterparts flummoxed the Internet connection and downed our phone line when installing radiant barrier in our attic. All this after leaving a misting of dust, asbestos, hate and demons in the hallway for me to vacuum up.

(Perhaps this man is not the only one with a bad attitude around here. Mere conjecture.)

I want to treat this man with kindness. I really do. Really. There’s the me I am right now, and the me I wish to be, and a great big chasm of frustration separating the two.

I had asked him to please start his work in the babies’ rooms so they could go down for timely afternoon naps. He promptly started in the master bedroom.

I asked how much longer it would take and he told me 10 minutes. That was 40 minutes ago.

While we’re at it: I asked AT&T if they could please reinstate the Internet for optimum Facebook capabilities. They declined until Saturday. (It’s Tuesday.) I asked Drew to please go back to bed. It was 6:15 a.m. He whined and threw blocks at his closet door. I asked Drew (at 7 a.m.) why won’t he poop in the potty? He said nothing at all, and then did it in his pants a second time out of spite.

All this before lunch.

There’s the me I am right now, and the me I wish to be. Sometimes I think if I could get out from under the cloud of mosquito frenzy, I could become faster at finding Jesus in my spirit. I’m quick to acknowledge my trials are not gorilla-weight, and I’m grateful. No family tragedy (yet), no financial straights (yet), no bleak health diagnosis (yet) — just the beleaguered life of a mommy who can’t seem to hack it even in the 20th century where she has air conditioning, a sunroom, friends, freedom, Diet Coke and healthy kids.

In his classic My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes, “God does not give us overcoming life — he gives us life as we overcome. The strain of life is what builds our strength. Are you asking God to give you life, liberty, and joy? He cannot, unless you are willing to accept the strain.”

Chambers is expounding on Jesus’ words in John 16:33 where he promises his disciples that “in the world you will have tribulation.” You will. It’s just a fact — tribulation, big and small. Tribulation, tragedy, and, surprisingly: tepid tedium.

Am I willing to accept the mosquito clouds? To embrace the unsexiness of my run-of-the-mill angsts? I may not have a giant to slay today, but I do have a man applying a 3M product to my windows so I’ll save 25% on my electric bill next month. And he’s driving me nuts. Am I willing to have faith enough to take this moment seriously?

We’ll see. He just walked in with the bill.

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