Monday, June 7, 2010

Thankful- A Lesson on Suffering

I am so very thankful today as I look and see how well I am taken care of.
When I first learned that our air conditioner wasn't working, I had high hopes that it would be a quick fix and that we would only need to try and stay cool for a day or two. As the days grew more and more, I realized that maybe we would need to be suffer through this just a little longer than planned. I admit that I was unhappy and complained in my head. I worried about the kids getting too hot (even though they seemed to handle the heat better than I did) and I worried about having to bring a newborn home before the air could get fixed. Worse than that, I grumbled about how uncomfortable it was to be almost nine months pregnant and having to sweat like a pig all day and be nauseous at night and unable to sleep because it was so stinkin' hot. I at least made sure to keep the whining to myself and not say anything in front of the kids. I did my best to keep the work flow going in the house by trying to do as much as possible downstairs where it was cooler. We ate a lot of Popsicles, filled up the baby pool for the kids to play in, ate cold dinners and wore cold, wet washcloths on our heads at bedtime. I kept water bottles in the freezer so we could drink ice water when we needed it and we all took cold showers before bedtime. It was more work than normal, but we were getting through each day and that was all that mattered. The only thing that kept me going was to tell myself that we would have air again soon.
When we finally had a professional come out to check on our unit and were told that the whole thing needed to be replaced, I foolishly expected Mike to go get the unit and have it fixed ASAP. I had no idea what a huge and costly project it would be. Or how long it would take to get done. When it was all laid out for me, we realized that being able to afford both AC and Montessori school for the kids became questionable and if we were able to get a new AC unit, it would take a lot of time. It definitely wasn't going to happen before Little Miss Sunshine was born.
Being the imperfect human that I am, I got angry. I didn't want to sweat through my last few weeks of this pregnancy. I didn't want to keep giving cold baths to the kids every. single. night. I wanted to fix something for dinner besides sandwiches and salad. I wanted to crawl into a nice cool bed at bedtime and actually be able to sleep with a blanket on. I wanted Mr. Tickle's heat rash to go away. I wanted to be able to drink a cup of hot coffee in the morning. I wanted to know that paying for Montessori was not a problem. I wanted the air conditioner to work because the basement was starting to smell moldy and I didn't want to re-live the nightmare from last summer. I didn't cry. But I wanted to do that too.
Instead, I became cranky and irritable. I got angry at Mike. My poor husband was doing all he could to fix the problem but I was angry that he still hadn't fixed it. I was also angry that he wasn't showing me more compassion. To tell the ugly truth, I was looking for pity. Didn't he see what I was going through everyday? His poor pregnant wife couldn't handle this kind of suffering and he needed to fix it! He also needed to tell me how horrible it was that I had to deal with this but also tell me that I was doing a great job. I know. It's pathetic.
Instead, he told me that things weren't that bad. Ugh! How dare he! Well, if I wasn't going to receive any pity from him, I was going to call my mother and get it from her.
Instead, she told me that at least I have a home. Things could be worse. My family and I could be spending these hot days living in a car.
When I got off the phone, I plopped onto my bed and felt so embarrassed by the way I had been feeling and acting. (Why is it that my husband can tell me something and I get angry, but then my mother tells me the same thing and I listen? There actually has been a study that found out that just hearing your mother's voice over the phone reduces a key stress hormone and releases oxytocin. You can read the whole article here.) I thought of all the reasons why I was angry and upset and realized that I was relying too heavily on comfort. Yes, it sucks having to be hot and sweaty for my last few weeks of pregnancy but at least I'm healthy. How thankful I am to be able to get pregnant. To have an anatomy perfectly built to carry and grow a child in my womb. To not have any medical problems keeping me from having a stress-free, low risk, normal pregnancy.
Yes, it's a pain in the butt having to find dinners that everyone will like that don't involve cooking in the oven or on the stove. But how thankful I am that we have food. That my husband is willing to wake up at the crack of dawn each morning and work his butt off to get us that food. That if one day I'm just too worn out to think and cook, we can afford to order pizza.
Yes, it's stressful to wonder if we can pay for a new AC unit AND Montessori school since the only money we have saved up is enough to pay for one. But how thankful I am that we have a savings. That my husband has a good paying job and that after the bills are paid and the family fed, we still have money left over to put in the savings. (well, sometimes.)
Yes, it's a lot of work having to find ways to keep the kids cool. Like dealing with wet bathing suits and kids dripping water throughout the house even though you told them 100 times to dry off before re-entering the house. Or cleaning up Popsicle juice off their sticky hands and faces and the numerous little pieces that they let drop on the floor. And having to bend over in the tub, every night, to wash the sweat off your heat rashed 2 year old who hates baths and wrestles with you the entire time while you yourself are sweating and your belly is getting squished against the tub and your back hurts and your ankles are swollen and you wish you could just put the kids to bed without having to add an extra bath in every night. But how thankful I am to have these kids. To be able to share each day with them. To see how happy a little baby pool can make them and listen to their giggling as they splash and play in it. To watch their face light up when they ask me if they can have a Popsicle and I say yes. To have a sweet little 2 year old to cuddle with in his towel after his bath is all done. I have SO MUCH to be thankful for and yet there I was, complaining about being hot. Getting angry at my husband who loves his family so much and was doing all he could to fix our air conditioner. I apologized to God for the way I had acted for He was the only one who really knew all the bickering I had done in my head and the self-pity I seeked. Then I remembered what I did a few days ago when Mike had bought a new motor for the AC. I had every bit of confidence that it was going to fix the problem. He had a terrible time getting the old motor off. I watched him struggle in the heat, sweat pouring off of him, working for two hours when he thought it would only take minutes. He was getting frustrated but I kept thinking: God will make this work. It will all be worth it.
After Mike finally got the new motor on and tried it out, it didn't work. I couldn't believe it. I got angry again and said to God, "Fine. You want to give me this cross to carry? I will. But I really don't want to!" After remembering that, I realized that God didn't make this happen. He didn't decide that He was going to pick on me that day and see how I handled it. Why was I so quick to blame Him? That AC unit out there is old. We had problems with it in past summers and had even been warned that it would eventually need to be replaced. I apologized to Him for that too. Then I humbly asked Him to help us. I knew I didn't deserve His help after the way I had acted. But I also knew how much He loves me despite my imperfections. I ended my prayer with, "Whatever happens, I trust in you."
On Wednesday, Mike talked to his dad who happened to have a window unit lying around. Mike picked it up, brought it home and installed it in our bedroom. I got to crawl into a cool bed that night.
On Thursday, my brother called and said he had a window unit in his basement that we could have.
On Friday, my dad told me that if we can get Justin's window unit and use that for the summer, he could get his buddy to order what we need for a new unit and then get his other buddy to install it AND that he would start saving up some money to loan to us so we can pay for it AND still send our kids to Montessori school. (Thank you Mr. Hev!!!!)
On Saturday, we went to a rummage sale at our Church and found a de-humidifier for $3. On our way home, Mike picked up my brothers window unit and installed it in our upstairs living room. I was finally able to use the oven for dinner that night and I could stop worrying about bringing Little Miss Sunshine home to a sweltering house.
Yes, life will sometimes throw you a curve ball. But how thankful I am to be surrounded by family members who coach me on how to hit those balls and a God who cheers me on even when I strike out. I know that He answered my prayer and has taken care of us. He will bring out some sort of good from any circumstance that is bad. In this case, He taught me a lesson on suffering. He also taught me that He is always willing to help. All I need to do is ask. Yes, I am very thankful, indeed.

"Pray, hope and don't worry." - St. Padre Pio

1 comment:

  1. Oh Jodi. What a great post. I had no idea all this was going on!!You know if you had called me you would have gotten sympathy and comfort and pity!!! hahahaha. Guess I wasn't the right person to talk to at that moment. I'm SO glad it's going to work out and that you have these window units. And I am so glad you turned this into a positive and that your prayers were answered. I love you!