Over time, I've come to realize that it's not the situation itself that is so much the problem, but how I choose to respond that matters.
Today is a prime example...
I had my grocery lists written out, coupons printed, and diaper bag fully stocked. I was all ready for our bi-monthly trip to Reno. We were up and out the door by around 8 and I was feeling good. It's a good thing we left early too, because a nearly potty trained toddler, asked for and got 6 different trips to 'the potty.'
Target - check
JoAnn's - check
Whole Foods - check
Costco - check
Gas Station - check
That's how I thrive - checking things off of my list. We did great. The kiddos were cheerful, we ran from our air-conditioned car to air-conditioned stores and had a great day of it. By 2, we were well on our way home with both boys sleeping soundly in the backseat.
And then it happened...the car overheated.
I had been watching the temperature gauge, after seeing it climb on our recent road trip and had even asked hubby if I should maybe just take the truck instead. But that little needle didn't look back and all of a sudden I started to hear a rattle. I pulled over and the engine died before I had even come to a stop beside the highway.
After a quick call to Braden, help was on its way - but his work is on the opposite side of town and I knew it would take a little while for him to go home, get the truck and meet up with us. Sigh.... The temperature inside the car climbed as we sat there in the baking sun. Before long both Ryder and Lynden were awake and getting antsy.
Yes, I was the crazy lady nursing her baby by the side of the road when a kind truck driver pulled over and offered to help.
Hurry up, honey!
I can tell you the initial thoughts running through my mind:
1. Why couldn't I have just taken the truck? I knew this would happen.
2. Now? Really?! I have all kinds of cold food in the back that needs to get into a fridge.
3. Great! Now the kids are going to be cranky for the whole rest of the day without a decent nap.
It wasn't pretty.
But then I caught myself. Here I was grumbling and complaining inwardly when I didn't really have it so bad.
1. Braden was in town and though at work, he was able to leave and come rescue us.
2. Today was 91 degrees (33 for my Canadian friends) but it's supposed to get up to 100 later this week.
3. I had remembered to bring the big cooler along and the cold food was not going to spoil in the extra hour we had to wait without AC.
4. We were only about a 10 minute drive from home, not a whole hour away, which would have been the case if it had happened in Reno.
5. We were safe. The car died on a not very busy highway where we could safely pull over and wait for help. Not too remote, but not so busy that we were in any danger.
I catch myself doing these mental evaluations every so often. I suppose the goal is to one day get them so ingrained that I think these grateful thoughts before allowing the complaining ones any place in my mind, but it's all a process.
That's the way sanctification works. These trials - some big life changing blows and others fairly trivial, like my hiccup today - are all part of the bigger picture and God intends to use them to bring about growth in my life.
So instead of whining, I'm going to choose joy in this moment, and hopefully I can remember this lesson and save myself the trouble next time. But if not, I can remind myself of these truths:
Trials are going to come and are not without purpose.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)
What I have is good, from the hand of a loving God.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)