Worse Things Have Happened

It’s 9:55 PM on Sunday night.

The last thing I want to do right now is write about this. What I want to do is curl up in a ball and cry awhile and fall asleep and wake up to Monday. (You know you’ve had a rough Sunday when you’re ready for it to just be Monday already—)

But if I wait and I write it tomorrow it will be different. It’s already going to be different with the five or so hours of distance. I’m calmer and more rational. I’ve had time to process. I can’t allow for any more of that. Because what I know is that writing in real time—out of the purest and freshest and rawest emotions—-is the best for everyone. Because it’s honest for the audience and it connects you on a different level, and it’s healing in the best way for me.

Anyways. Here we are, to reflect on a “super stinky” Sunday.

Today started for me about 1:30AM. I could tell Lincoln had to go out (he was frantically pacing trying his hardest not to wake me up and also not to have an accident in the house) bless his little heart. I reluctantly got up to take him out assuming we hadn’t gone out close enough to bed. He did that thing that makes me crazy—practically going before we get out the door and then taking his good old time to sniff out every bush once we got out there. We came back inside and curled back up in bed. Press repeat at 3:00 and 4:00 and 7:30...I woke up exhausted and worried about how I would deal with a sick dog this week. Already annoyed and frustrated before the day began.

Then I made the long trek to north Seattle with Lincoln and a travel mug of strong Mexican coffee. I was starting to feel better about the day. Spent a lovely morning discussing the Ten Commandments and praying with friends. Spent some time with one of my favorite “ninth” graders and then headed home excited for the first official service of a church plant I’m attending and excited to finish a book en route.

Lincoln enjoyed a window seat and I finished off book one of the Harry Potter series just in time to hop off of one bus and on to another.

I’m always so careful. I always check for my phone and my bus pass and my wallet at least three times before getting off the bus knowing that’s less of a hassle than not having it later. But today I was exhausted and excited and just ready to move along. I didn’t realize until boarding the next bus that it was gone. And my heart sank. Because it had my work badge and my credit card and my license and my work transportation pass and because the bus was long gone and because it’s Sunday so no one was going to pick up if I called. The bus driver let me ride and a lovely lady came and sat with me. She told me that sometimes when we’re panicked we just miss things and calmly asked me to check each pocket and poked through my bag with me. It was definitely gone and I felt stupid and mad and annoyed and helpless all at the same time.

I tried to take some deep breaths and gather myself. I pride myself on being level headed in moments like these but I was obviously not feeling in tune with that version of myself today. I managed to try calling the number listed in the bus-of course no one answered and I did manage to call and cancel my credit card, immediately dreading all of the updates I would have to make to online payment settings. I rode the bus home and called my mom on the walk to ask her to pray that someone would turn it in. That I did indeed lose it on the bus and not on a street. I’ve had lost and found bus miracles before and I still believe there are good and kind people in the world. I also know how valuable a Microsoft orca card is for anyone in these parts.

Of course I cried. I didn’t know why exactly. I guess I was just mad at myself for adding unnecessary stress to my life just because I broke one simple habit. I snapped at my mom a few times. And then I hung up. And I fought really hard to make a choice. Because it is a choice after all.

It was astonishingly clear that Satan did not want me near a church today in any way shape or form. He almost got me this morning by keeping me awake all night and he almost got me here with a crazy commuter crisis. It was 3:30 and our first Icon church service was at 4:00. I was so tempted not to go. To stay home and surrender to the day and throw a pity party. To just “sleep it off.”

But no. The feelings of gratitude were pervasive. At first I found them quite annoying to be honest. I was trying so hard to focus on what had happened and all of the repercussions that would follow and to be worried and angry and frustrated. But drowning all of that out were thoughts like these—

“At least you had your debit card in your other wallet. At least it wasn’t your phone. At least no one can use the card now. Lincoln is safe and not sick anymore. That lady was really nice to me.”

Did I mention that my ex boyfriend got married yesterday while I was at home cleaning up dog puke?

And still the good and grateful just kept squishing out the bad. Overwhelmingly so. And it felt almost out of my control.

Now let me be real. There were still tears and I was still on edge all the way to church. I kept saying thank you to Jesus for the ability to walk instead of bus and the money and resources to buy a new bus card if I have to and bus fare for the time being and a mom to call about it all. And I kept thinking how incredibly blessed I am if this is the worst thing that’s happened to me in a long while. How could I let this ruffle my feathers this much? Don’t I say all the time that Jesus is everything to me? That he’s more than enough for me?

Did I mention I also fell down in the middle of a crosswalk on my way to church?

Worse. Things. Have. Happened.

To me and to so many other people.

And let me tell you something else. I’ve choked out self chats like these in the past because I knew it’s what I should do. I’ve forced them up to the skies because that’s how Christians are supposed to respond to hard situations.

But this was different. This was a gut reaction, one I didn’t really think through and it went against everything I was feeling and everything I wanted to say and believe and do. Something in me fought back even though I didn’t have the will or the strength to be fighting. I kept saying thank you even though I couldn’t stop crying and I stopped worrying once I did all I could do and I went to church even though I was exhausted and on edge. And all through the service I kept considering how this could be.

Here’s what I think. I think today went the way it did because of all the forced sessions in the past. All those moments that I practiced being thankful and looking for the positive even when it was just what I was “supposed to do” when I was trying to just be a good Christian. Even though my motives weren’t always the purest or the best. And today it just came naturally. It just sort of flowed out of me and pushed all of my flesh aside on its way.

My point is that gratitude is something we have to practice—even when it feels awkward and uncomfortable and maybe even when we aren’t genuinely feeling it. We have to act as though we are anyways. And then eventually, over time, our perspective shifts and we actually are grateful and so aware of how good we have it even when it feels like we’ve got it really bad. We’ll be able to do these quick assessments, pick out the positive, do what we can about the negative, and then say a huge thank you that we are alive and well and saved by the blood of Jesus.

The pastor read a quote tonight that found me and hugged me right where I was. I’ll leave you with it and encourage you to practice gratitude today—especially in any of the places where it’s more natural to roll your eyes!

“Let my losses reveal that all I really have is You. Because all I really have is You.”

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