Our car wouldn’t start this morning. Nothing new there.
It’s sitting down the street, where it ended up after my husband and son pushed it in an effort to pop-the-clutch. Sadly, no amount of clutch-popping could bring it to life this morning, so it will just have to sit there until a mechanic can come take a look.
I walked in the house, frustrated over the car, and I looked out the back door into what used to be the yard, but is now an overgrown white-trash jungle ever since our mower kicked the bucket. There’s just no money to fix it.
There’s no money to fix anything.
“It’s ok.” That’s what I told myself. I took a deep breath, gazing over waist-high grass, and I reminded myself that we can live with an embarrassing yard and we can also live without a car. And while I feel mostly sure about the yard, the car thing has me a little more confounded since we have kids to shuffle back and forth to school and work stuff that can’t be ignored – But still, we’ll live. We’ll be ok.
I can’t fix cars, but I can fix breakfast, so I offered to make my husband something since he was home waiting for the mechanic. I told myself to be grateful as I pulled out the toaster, because it’s on its last leg and must be watched carefully lest things catch fire, but hell, it still makes toast. And then I grabbed a pot holder to prop up my frying pan. It has a broken handle and the bottom is warped so that it wobbles on the burner while you’re cooking, but a couple of pot-holders, folded just so, and you’re good to go. I snagged a couple of eggs and the bread from the pantry, thankful for the food at my disposal. And that’s when I saw the butter.
My black cat from hell had licked the butter.
Aaaand? I completely lost my shit.
I started pacing back and forth. Tears burned my eyes and my heart began to pound, because DAMMIT, DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THAT BUTTER COST?! I have seen that cat put his tongue on parts of his anatomy that don’t even have names – they’re thatobscure and disgusting. Now my butter is all contaminated with stuff that comes from those parts. How, God?! How will we ever survive if we CAN’T EVEN MAKE EGGS AND TOAST?! Life washed over me like an ocean as I stood in my kitchen in despair because my cat chewed his balls and then licked the butter. I mean, WHAT WILL I EVER DO?!?!
I am a time bomb attached to an hourglass, the sands of anxiety spill through a tiny hole in my heart, collecting higher and higher. I’ll carry all this weight around with me, until that last bit of sand, the tiniest little thing, crushes my spirit. And then? Ka-boom!
My problem is not that my cat is the spawn of Satan, himself, sent to destroy me. (Although, he is.)
My problem is that my car broke down and everything else around me seems to be crumbling into chaos and the grass is trying to swallow the house and there’s no money to fix anything and one of my kids has a crappy grade in math and he’s giving me all kinds of attitude about it and my pants are too tight and I didn’t sleep very well because I sensed some kind of tension between me and El Chupacabra and even though I don’t know what it is I know it’s there because our feet weren’t touching in bed and I’m overwhelmed with a project and we carved pumpkins last night which was super fun but the whole time my heart was twisting inside of my chest because my oldest child will be moving out next summer and that might have been the very last time that our family sits around a table together stabbing gourds with knives and… you know… I really haven’t been the kind of Mom I wanted to be for him… and now I’m out of time. And the cat licked the butter.
And just like that, the hourglass is full. It can handle no more. So the time bomb goes off in the kitchen, over the quarter inch print of a cat-tongue in the butter dish. And I appear, for all the world, to be a humongous spaztard with a complete inability to cope, when, in fact, I’m just like anybody else who is drowning in the sands of time, overwhelmed by how fast the world is happening around them. Cars growing too old. Grass growing too tall. Marriage growing too cold. Work growing too demanding. And kids, Oh!, these kids – they’re growing up waytoo fast.
So, I poured some coffee and I told God in no uncertain terms that I don’t think I can handle it anymore. “I’m done. I’m tired. I just can’t handle any more of… anything.”
And God was like, “You can’t handleit?…What on Earth made you think it was yours to handle in the first place?”
Then, as if to teach me a lesson, the mechanic showed up and started our troublesome car with no trouble at all, I got a positive email from the math teacher, and fifty bucks arrived in my Paypal account. Like magic. But not.
And I realized that I had tied myself to the hourglass, forgetting, first, that it always leads to a time bomb, and second, that Jesus, in his great mercy to humanity, has offered us a different burden to carry, saying:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
And I love that he’s not saying “La la la, I’ll make your life easy!” but instead he says learnfrom me and I’ll teach you how to carry your burdens in a new and better way, a gentle and humble way, a way that doesn’t include you drop-kicking a cat. And then he shows you, as you walk together, where to find Peace when your bank account is empty, and Hope when your kid is giving you crap, and Rest when your marriage is wearing you out, and Grace,so much Grace, when your baby walks out the door, a grown man.
It’s an invitation to ditch the hourglass.
…. ….. ….
Have you ever felt like a time bomb, ready to go off at any moment?….. No? Oh. Well, what if your cat licked the butter?!