Dirt under my nails vs. clean folded laundry. The ground will dry and harden, and weed pulling will be much more difficult. The clean laundry isn't going anywhere. I pulled weeds.
Today in my Bible reading, 1 Peter 4:12 jumped out at me:
"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you."
Anyone else do that? Trial comes and the first words out of your mouth or into your mind are words of surprise and disbelief.
It's not like Jesus didn't warn us or anything:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
I have a short memory.
Something goes awry in my day, and I act surprised and sometimes even offended and there might just be a thought that goes something like: "God, how could You?" as if He owes me a problem-free day.
They are just going to happen. It's guaranteed. Jesus warned us. Peter reminds us not to be surprised.
So, then, why am I?
I don't know.
But I do get surprised and I do get offended and I do allow unbelief in the utter goodness of God to cloud my senses and totally disrupt my day and in comes the stinky attitude of "why me?!?"
What if I tried something different? What if next time a problem arises I try a different question? What if I try asking "Why not me?" I mean, is there something special about me that says that I should be precluded from problems?
As I am extrapolating my thinking process here, I quickly realize that my reaction to problems in my day reveals a self-centered mindset that causes them to grow bigger-than-life and my view of God to shrink in size.
That doesn't change who God is, but it does screw with my attitude.
Reading (and re-reading) 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp has radically shifted my perspective and highlighted my great need to develop the discipline of thanksgiving.
After I read it the first time, I remember talking to my sister, and she said: "I decided to stop doing it. It's just hard." And I laughed and she laughed because we both knew that neither of us really wanted to give up the habit of thanksgiving.
It's just that the habit of "oh, no!" and "not again!" is so much more familiar and, well, comfortable. New paths are hard to carve out. It's so easy to slip back into old patterns.
But God IS good and His grace IS plentiful and He IS strong when I am weak.
He can take any mess, any interruption, any problem, any catastrophe and give me peace. He can and He does. And I must increase in awareness of His work going on all around me to take everything and work it for my good because I'm called according to His purposes, and He uses it all to rub off rough patches and reshape twisted places and mold soft parts and soften hard ones so I can look like He created me to look ...more like Him - a glorious human being created in His image.
It's getting better and I have so far to go and He is so faithful.
That's where I land today. On His faithfulness. He is faithful even when I am not, even when I am surprised and offended by trouble that comes my way.
He gently picks me up, tilts my chin up to meet His gaze, looks me in the eye, and says in voice so tender and true:
"Hey, you. Remember Me? I have overcome the world. Here, have some peace instead. I'll take that worry and stress and selfishness and stubbornness and weakness and infuse it all with strength and beauty. I'll be Me in this situation, and you can just sit back and watch and be amazed at My goodness. Because I am, you know. Good. Really, really, really good. You are weak. I am strong. You're in me, so guess what, I'm strong for you."
Deep breath. Big sigh. Relief floods my being as I am recentered on what is true about God and suddenly here He is big and tall and enough while my problems shink to their true size, just a tiny drop in the palm of His hand.