Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Testing


Don’t talk it if you can’t walk it.


I set myself up all the time.

Talking about things like “transparency” and thanking God in all things.

Forgetting that the teacher always has to take the test first.

I’m glad I wasn’t transparent on the way home from the doctor the other day. People would have been pulling off the road in horror. There were snakes and toads running around inside my brain. (Actually, I felt like a toad.) Every negative, foul, vile thought you can imagine. Bad words. A labyrinth of ever-increasing negativity, bitterness, dread, and hopelessness.

I can’t tell you how many little things I’ve hated about the past week or so.

I felt completely exhausted… ill… done-in.

And so over it.

All.

Like, feeling tired of life.

Wondering why in the world I’d posted that quote from William Law on the internet. Because not only was I not exhibiting a thankful heart, I was grumbling worse than the Israelites in the desert. (And we know what happened to them.)

I promise you, it was exactly at that moment, when I was feeling like the world’s biggest hypocrite, that I drove past this sign:



I had to zip across two lanes in order to circle back around and take a picture.

I sat there for a few minutes in the church driveway, shaking my head at God's blatancy and humor. A homeless man pushed past me on his bike, heavy-laden with the weight of his earthly belongings. 

I realize: All this has been a test.  One which I haven’t passed with flying colors.

Why does it seem easier to pass the huge tests of life than the daily pop exams?

I have lived through far, far worse weeks than the past one. Dealt with far more terrible things than a move and the flu.

Yet have managed to stay serene, trusting, and thankful in their midst.

I realize that true testing is not necessarily during the times of worst trauma.  Because in those times, you are given gratuitous grace. You have to allow yourself to be carried like a child. There is no other choice.

But it’s the little things that get you every time.

The tests that build spiritual muscle are in the daily drudgeries of life. When everything seems gray and joyless.

And not fun.

The tests are in the mindless tasks done over and over and over again.

They come when you’re down in the trenches with the dirty diapers and the dirty dishes and the dirty looks from snarly salespeople.

The tests are in the sick bed and during the stressful move and refereeing the kids’ fight and wondering how the bills will be paid. The tests come when there’s an ungrateful client or rude teenagers or complicated relationships or overdrawn checking accounts or hurt feelings or papers due.

Tests come from cleaning up vomit and changing the sheets again and fixing another snack and loading the dryer and shopping for groceries and cleaning out closets and closing up a home.

From writing a blog post when you feel you have absolutely nothing worthwhile to say.

Growth comes through the painful choice to choose thanks when everything in you is yelling, “NO, THANKS. I didn’t sign up for this.”

When gratitude is forced through gritted teeth.

And clenched fists are released to receive whatever comes next from the hand of God.



9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dearest Kim, This blog hit me right in my core. Thanks again for being so open..your posts mean so much to me. Praying you are feeling better. Love Carol Meredith

Callie said...

Mrs. Arnold,
This post was an echo of what God's been telling me this week. It's just been one of those weeks. Having my heart broken for the first time, coming down with several viruses that have left me completely unable to do anything, papers to write, a brother who I haven't seen since Christmas, it's been a hard week, to say the least. But God has told me this is a time of growth. Unfortunately, with growth, comes growing pains. I was driving home from the doctor's office this morning and I passed by the very church that you took a picture of. The message today? "Be joyful always." It was really awesome to come home and happen to check your blog and see this particular post. Just a reminder that we aren't alone is sometimes the simplest way to remember to give thanks and be joyful!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Kim, Thank you for helping me to understand why I have been struggling the last few weeks. I have also had to deal with problems far more difficult than what is currently in front of me, but I have been struggling with bitterness and negativity over everyday disapppointments and challenges. Thank you for you.

Susan said...

Oh, boy - I can relate! How is it that I always manage to get tripped up by the things that I think I can handle - until they happen, anyway. Here's a quote from Anton Chekhov for you - "Any idiot can face a crisis; it's the day to day living that wears you out."

Anonymous said...

Kim, once again thank you for sharing the challenges - even after I've weathered so many of the crises of life, recently all I've wanted to do is run away from the daily life and seek safe haven back home with my parents - and I'm 50+ (isn't it interesting the older we get, the more we want to return home, yet when we were younger we looked to run away from home!). I find it's the ongoing constancy of day-to-day living that drains me most, so Susan - love the Chekhov quote - so very true!!

Blessings to one and all as we continue to seek Him!
L

Peggy Dabbs said...

Kim,

Thank you so much for this post! I have been really "down" for a couple of weeks. Just tired of life.

I see from the previous post of our
"sisters" that we are not alone in our feelings right now. This blog is so special to me, because we are able to share with one another.

Love,
Peggy

Judy said...

Maybe it's just that time of the year....some of us...me, for sure...feel a little overwhelmed by the daily challenges. The dreary days and long nights allow us to have a perfect pity party. For some reason, I schedule all of my yearly check ups in February. I think I might rethink that for next year! Thanks for being that first "Burst of Spring" for me and reminding me to release my clenched fist...and jaw...and receive what God has for me. My precious friend in Montgomery calls it "being put in your basket"!! It's time for me to get "out of my basket" and look for the tiny Joys today !!! Thanks Kim !

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your honesty. I feel the exact same way, so many times. It helps to know I am not alone. Hang in there!

Laurel said...

I fail Every. Single. Day. But I haven't blown it for tomorrow yet!