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.
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.