Bathroom Shelves and Old Books

The car ride to my in-laws was the breaking point this weekend. The babies decided halfway to Knoxville to scream with all they had in their tiny lungs. For an hour. Normally I just deal with it but on Friday I found myself cowered in the passenger seat, head on the glove compartment, hands pressed over my ears. I felt pathetic. There my husband was, one eye on the road and the other on his crazy wife, seeing me fall to pieces over the same amount of stress he manages to deal with so nonchalantly every day. I felt guilty. There I was spiraling into despair when there are such real and devastating issues of sex trafficking and ISIS—to name a mere two of 1,000,000. Finally, I was just so frustrated at myself. Why was I allowing my mood to ruin what was supposed to be a wonderful evening?

Of course, it wasn’t just the stress of crying babies. There were and are a dozen deep-seated issues that I’ve been shoving aside for some time, not realizing as they’ve quietly mounted like piles of snow on a chilly Vermont curbside. But cowering does not solve such problems; allowing my chest to get so tight it’s about to explode doesn’t solve anything. And I knew it. I just (felt I) couldn’t help it.

And of all the places and people and ways for God to speak to me, to comfort me and bring me back to logic and perspective, it came in the bathroom.

In the quaint little guest bathroom–the place I ran to for escape–there are three shelves in the corner, stacked with magazines. And on the bottom shelf, I saw an old copy of My Utmost for His Highest. I plucked it up and the passage spoke to me:

There are certain things we must not pray about—moods, for instances. Moods never go by praying, moods go by kicking. A mood nearly always has its seat in the physical condition, not in the moral. It is a continual effort not to listen to the moods which arise from a physical condition, never submit to them for a second. We have to take ourselves by the scruff of the neck and shake ourselves, and we will find that we can do what we said we could not. The curse with most of us is that we won’t.

Just like that, I had the strength to follow through and pray about the things going on in my life. Just like that, God met me and helped me pitch the tar off my heart, freeing me to both enjoy the evening and rationally discuss how to deal with my current issues.

As Oswald says, sometimes it takes a good kick of sturdy words to get back in the game.

 

But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

-John 14:26