It is a rainy and windy Saturday afternoon when we finally make it out to do our weekend errands. A disappointing attempt to find some way to stop the carpenter bees boring into our deck, check on the prices of gas grills and finally groceries and all the household items. Our second stop, Wal-Mart for the groceries and household items.
I am physically hurting, the swelling all over my body has me so uncomfortable I feel like a ripe banana about to explode out of my skin. Our list seems to grow longer and longer despite my crossing item after item off so I find myself just eliminating things until “next week”. Anything to get out of the store, away from the crowds and impossible to navigate aisles piled with more merchandise than can possibly be sold, I’m in favor of skipping food for the next week if it will let me out of this mass of people, out of this painful chair, and to be at home. Safe. Warm. Able to take a pain pill and it not matter if I wake up at a specific time or can be awake enough to remind my child to brush her teeth.
My attitude is stinky and I know it so I’m refraining from complaining out loud. I’m careful with my responses to my husband and child to not be snappy. I patiently allow others to go ahead of me and maneuver the power shopping cart around displays and groups of family and friends who’ve decided to make the Wal-Mart aisle their reunion site. It is no one’s fault, including mine, that I am in physical pain and that the pain is draining my attitude into the “ugly zone”.
God has given me the power to turn this around, I remind myself, as I am on a hunt for peanut butter and fighting a rising panic being in such a crowd of people who mostly ignore me making me feel invisible. He will make a way. A silent and quick plea for an avenue out of the gloom.
My eyes spy muffins. A nine pack of those nice big fat muffins, blueberry, apple crumb and orange cranberry. They look delicious. I decide to buy them for our Sunday School class the next morning. The decision helps. I know they will be pleased although the ladies will moan over calories and the men over the orange cranberry ones. It will be in jest. It will be another way to say “thank you” to people who rally around me during times my Lymphedema flairs up dramatically like now.
God’s way out. A simple gesture of gratitude and a reminder I am not alone in battling this.
As we are waiting to check out my daughter asks, “Why are you buying those?” Her nose wrinkling in distaste. Neither blueberry nor orange cranberry are flavors that attract her appetite.
“Oh, no special reason. I just wanted to be nice. I just wanted to think nice thoughts.” I reply.
She’s intrigued. Her eyes holding mine. “Don’t you always feel like being nice? Don’t you always think nice thoughts?”
“No.” I admitted. “Not always. No one does.”
She leans in and whispers in my ear, “Do you ever just feel like knocking someone upside their head?”
Her eyes are positively dancing and I can see how excited she is at the awareness that her Mama doesn’t always think nice thoughts. And maybe, just maybe her Mama also thinks about giving someone a wallop upside their heads sometime.
I laugh and I admit that, yes, there are times I would like to give someone a good hard knock in their head. I admit to the thought.
My daughter is delighted! “I do too. All the time!”
Later when I bring the conversation up again we talk about the things that we find irritating in people. For my daughter it’s people who stare at me, kids at school who think they are better than others, “spoiled brats” and girls who think make-up, boys, and talking about other girls is fun. For me it’s people who ignore me as if being in a wheelchair makes me invisible, “bubble people”-those who live in worlds where nothing goes wrong, they are never grumpy, their homes never messy, their children never make below a “B” in anything and whose lives seem “perfect” as if they live in some isolated bubble away from the “real world” and of course those who just can’t “get it” that Lymphedema is a real and painful disease and it cost me my left leg.
“How often do you think about ‘knocking someone upside their head'” I quiz my daughter.
“Everyday. Don’t you?”
“No,” I tell her slowly. “No because I don’t like to dwell on those type thoughts. You know the Bible tells us we are to think on good things.”
She nods her head. “I know, but I still think it ’cause my school is full of gossipy girls and “spoiled brats”. At least I’m not actually knocking them upside their heads.” She reminds me. Then impishly she grins, “It’s not an appropriate way to handle anger, right?”
I grin back. My own words spoken back to me. Words I wasn’t sure she listened to. “No, no it’s not. But let’s make a plan, okay?”
“Since we both have these thoughts let’s try really hard to ask God to help us think on good things, to find good things in people, especially the ones who irritate us. I bet if we do it together with God we can stop thinking about knocking someone up side their head altogether!” I smile, knowing she is enjoying knowing that we share this and now that I am proposing we work together on curbing our bad thoughts.
“Okay.” My daughter says, laughter in her voice, “but Mama, you don’t go to school with all those gossipy know-it-all’s like I do.”
“No honey, I don’t, but I did and they grew up to be “bubble people”!”
Getting out of the car this morning our 11-year-old turns back to me, grinning and says, “Philippians 4:8
today Mama!” And the door slams and she is off to her world of school.
Her grin was contagious and I’m still smiling as I turn in my Bible to read, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Think good things today my friends, think on praiseworthy things, and really, avoid knocking someone upside their head. It is not an appropriate way to express your anger!
Thinking Philippians 4:8 today!