Tuesday morning as I was scraping gum out of the inside of the dryer with a butter knife, I was waiting to exhale. I waited a really long time. I normally don't get that upset when my kids do things like let an entire pack of gum go through the wash cycle but it was the domino effect and the gum incident was the last domino added to the line. When it fell, all the other dominoes I've been guarding and trying to keep standing, perfectly aligned and in my control tumbled too. Of course they weren't really in my control. It was just my perception. All it took was a pack of gum and an hour of my time to send me over the edge. I was forced to let go of the idea that I could keep controlling them and exhaled. It doesn't make anything less hectic in my life right now but what it did was force a change my attitude about it. I was sitting there scraping, feeling unappreciated and, because I'd told him Monday night that his gum had gone through the wash cycle and he didn't offer to clean up the mess, really ticked off. The truth is I know I'm not unappreciated. And as far as being ticked off he has his own set of dominoes he's struggling to keep standing right now. His haven't tumbled yet and he's doing what he can to keep them standing. He's young and he's still learning. Even adults, when we're watching our dominoes that closely and we get overwhelmed, we take advantage of others. Normally he does take responsibility when he makes a mistake so it's not a pattern. But when you're feeling sorry for yourself, that one time you feel taken advantage of has a lot of power over your ability to look at the whole picture. I'm grateful that, because of my love/hate relationship with the book of James in the bible, I was equipped with the right attitude and thought process to deal with it Tuesday night. I wasn't Tuesday morning but because I've read James 3 so many times, I kept all the things tumbling through my mind in my mind and off my tongue.
I don't think you can fully understand unless you see it in person but you can tell a bit by this photo that the book of James in my bible is in sad shape. When my life feels out of control, many times I will read my bible as I'm styling and drying my hair after my shower because I know I can't make any excuses about other things that have to get done first. I'm guaranteed to be standing in one place for at least 15 minutes and if I can't read while I'm holding a hairdryer in my hand then I have bigger problems than I realize. When life feels out of control enough that I'm having quiet time in the bathroom, my mouth often gets the best of me so turn to the book of James.
As of Tuesday morning I hadn't actually turned to the book of James. I was struggling just with the verses about the untamable tongue going through my mind and honestly, I didn't want to read more. I was content sitting there scraping and feeling sorry for myself all-the-while struggling with the fact that I know feeling sorry for myself never helps.
After I got the gum cleaned up, I sat down in front of my computer to study but, of course, first took a detour to Facebook. I follow Casting Crowns on Facebook and Mark Hall has a study on the book of James that started Monday so I watched the 2 videos that he'd posted so far. Ahhh. Much needed. My trials right now are nothing compared to what Christians experienced at the time the book of James was written. They aren't really trials at all but merely frustration over issues of control. Although I knew this and I kept thinking to myself that there are women who still wash their clothes by hand and carry buckets of water to their homes, and suffer persecution simply because they are women, it took getting into the Word to get my seriously out of whack attitude adjusted.
Once that happened I dealt with the other dominoes that are battling for my time, one of which is the ongoing pressure of not feeling like I'm doing enough to serve others. In other words, adding something that requires me to give even more time. It's been a topic that's been very much stressed in Sunday sermons lately (as it should be) and sometimes I get so focused on fitting into a mold that I forget that I need to keep my priorities and my service to others where God wants me, not necessarily where my pastor wants me. I struggle with focusing on the perception of others rather than the will of God for myself far too much. The path of serving others is not the same for everyone. My obligation is to the path God has set me on, not to worrying that someone in my church might, possibly, maybe be keeping a list of tallies. So until July when 2 of my most time consuming dominoes get put back in the box, this one gets set aside. It doesn't mean it doesn't belong in the line, just that it doesn't right now.
Whew. So that's the long, drawn-out way of saying I needed an attitude adjustment Tuesday morning. If you're interested in following the video series, as far as I can tell they are only posted on the Casting Crowns Facebook page which is linked on their blog. If you're not a Christian but you've ever been curious about what the heck the bible is all about, Mark does a great, very quick, easy to understand, historical summary of the New Testament in this ancient book we "freaky" Christians use to guide us!