Haven’t we all had those days, weeks, and months when it seems like one bad thing after another keeps happening to us and we can’t seem to catch a break? It’s these times when people experience things like the car breaking down, an appliance giving out, a check bouncing and the kids getting sick all in a few days span of time. It can be so frustrating, somewhat ridiculous and leaves you questioning, “why me?”
I recently had one of those weeks. It was a very important week as our church was in the final preparation stages for our Annual Easter Sunrise Service that is held on the Capitol grounds in Washington DC. It’s one of those events that are an honor and a privilege, that no other faith-based organization has had. There are dozens of security guards, several media crews, thousands of people and every year hundreds of people accept Jesus as their savior. For those of us that are responsible for this service, it is several months of work that add up to a lot of hours. My main responsibility is graphic design and marketing. Normally my deadlines are two weeks before the service. Then I spend the week before laying low and praying for the people who will come to this service.
This Easter season seemed to be very low-key. Everything was going smooth and my stress level was minimal. That is until a week before Easter when I was asked to design some publications that took me several days to create, and a few of those days were spent working into the early morning hours. I am absolutely not a night person and I love my sleep. In fact, there have been many times that just one sleepless night has done me in for the rest of the week. Although my work load was heavy and I was lacking sleep, I was surprisingly handling things well. One of those nights my son had an accident in his sleep that he didn’t tell me about. I discovered his soiled bedding and mattress at the end of the next day. Frustrated and tired, I headed to the store to purchase a steam cleaning vacuum and scrubbed it until I thought it was clean. The next day the second floor of my house started to smell very pungent, so I attempted to tackle cleaning the mattress again. This time I soaked the mattress in vinegar and water and let it sit before steam cleaning it again. Now the second floor smelled like vinegar so I decided to sprinkle a box of baking soda all over the mattress and leave it to absorb any residual odors.
I was starting to get weary from all my tireless work and I decided to have a friend and her kids over for lunch. I had planned it a couple of days before and I didn’t want to cancel even though I knew it would have been the wise thing to do. I managed to race around my house throwing clutter into closets and then made Waldorf chicken salad, fresh iced tea and a batch of double chocolate brownies for lunch. While they were at my house, the church office called several times to ask me to make edits to one of my publications, and then tell me about a couple more publications I needed to make. While I was busy chatting with my friend her two-year old got into some markers and colored all over my wood stairs, walls, carpet and doors on the second floor. It was everywhere! It was so overwhelming that all I could do was laugh! I thought to myself, “I don’t have time for a mess like this.” These past few days of publications and messes had happened on my days off when I normally spend time cleaning my house and getting spiritually refreshed. Now I was about to be in the office for the rest of the week, while my house was a mess. I hadn’t done laundry in almost two weeks and I was growing weary physically, spiritually and emotionally.
The next couple days I got home from work late and the laundry, marker mess and mattress remained untouched. We had just gotten home from spending hours, handing out flyers in DC while the weather was cold and rainy. I was tired, cold and miserable the entire time, and when we got home my husband asked me to make some homemade chocolate chips cookies. My only response was to laugh. He said to me, “Fine. If you show me how to make them, I will do it.” I agreed to it, even though I knew it usually takes more work to teach then do it myself. I started gathering ingredients and while I reached into my spice cabinet, somehow my fingertips got pinched between the hinged part and the cabinet base. The pain was excruciating. I screamed and sat on the floor, wincing from my throbbing fingers and favoring my hand. That was it! I was about to crack. My husband gently asked if I was okay and I responded by yelling, “No, I’m not!” I was ready for this week to be over and I was beginning to wish we didn’t have this Easter assignment anymore.
Once the pain in my fingers subsided, I proceeded to help with the cookies again. We didn’t have butter so I scooped shortening into a bowl to melt in the microwave. After only a minute the shortening exploded. I opened the microwave door and huge gobs of grease fell onto the stove top. The entire microwave was covered in the mess. Every inch and crease was filled with grease. Even the ventilation holes were filled with the substance. I thought to myself, “why me?” I already had two major messes upstairs as well as my untouched housework, and now I had the impossible task of getting rid of a grease explosion. It took me about 45 minutes to clean the microwave and I still couldn’t get the grease out of the vent holes. I had a really bad attitude and my resolve was to eat about a fourth of the cookies and go to bed. I would rather just sleep until Easter was over.
The next day I was up early. I ran an errand for the church, went grocery shopping and started baking cupcakes all before 8:30 am. I was still tired and frustrated and I continued to eat from the batch of cookies I had made the night before. I am normally a very health conscious person, but I had decided that it didn’t matter anymore. I would just eat cookies and only cookies all day long. I took advantage of my day at home by doing laundry, scrubbing marker off the walls, steam cleaning the carpet, cleaning the kitchen and microwave again, and cutting my daughter’s hair. While I was doing the evening dishes my daughter asked me to cut her apple. I walked over to help her and as I turned to get back to the dishes, I slammed my shin on the open dishwasher, flew over it and came crashing to the tile floor. Once again, the pain was excruciating, but this time I didn’t respond with anger. Instead I found it so ridiculous that I started to laugh. My husband said to me, “At least this time you’re handling it well.”
When it was nearing bedtime I decided to finish my day of cleaning by vacuuming the baking soda off my son’s bed. The vacuum sounded like the bag might be full so I got a new bag and proceeded to replace it. As I was kneeling on the floor, I opened up the vacuum, and to my surprise, the old bag was not even attached. A giant mixture of dust, dirt, hair and cat litter fell all over my legs and the carpet. I yelled for my kids to grab a trash bag as I thought to myself, “the messes couldn’t get any worse than this.” It was getting ridiculous. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or scream, but I did start to wonder why my week had been filled with so much chaos. I wiped down the vacuum, cleaned up the floor, changed the bag and turned on the vacuum. As soon as I hit the on switch a huge cloud of baking soda blew out of the vacuum and left everything in the room covered in a white, powdery layer. I could even taste the saltiness of it on my tongue. What in the world was going on with me this week?
As I finished cleaning up that mess and put my kids to bed I thought about my week and the importance of the next morning. It was the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior in our nation’s capital, and hundreds of lives would be changed because of it. I thought about the weight and responsibility on me, my family and our church. I began to understand that the things that happened to me throughout the week were not a coincidence. I was doing great things for the Lord and the “enemy” didn’t like it. In fact, he was doing everything in his power to discourage me from the task at hand. The Bible says that he comes only to kill, steal, and destroy. He was trying to distract me, steal my joy and discourage me from what the Lord wanted to do through me. I may have had a couple miserable days, but I wasn’t going to let it bring me down anymore. Satan wanted to make me miserable so that I would not be effective in my assignment.
This is a very important lesson for all of us. If we allow ourselves to let our circumstances dictate our mood and behavior, we are allowing the “enemy” to render us useless. He doesn’t want us to succeed and he will do what it takes to keep us from that victory. Have you gone through anything lately that might be a tactic from the enemy to bring you down and make you miserable?