This past Tuesday was a bad day for me. It started on the way out the door when one of my boys confessed he had “forgotten” to do his homework and study for a test he knew he was going to fail. This after a four-day weekend in which he had plenty of time to do the work, but simply chose not to. This led to a silent car ride to school, because I was about to lose it.
From that point I started to sink. Deep. I felt the defeatedness (is that a word?) of being a “bad parent.” Just another example of my recent failures. The weight of my life started to crush me. This led me to the acute awareness of my short comings as a husband too. “Why didn’t I tell my wife she looked pretty when I thought she did?” “Why didn’t I tell her I loved her when I thought I should?” “Why didn’t I sleep with her when I wanted to?”
I was also worrying about a few slow weeks at work and the lack of hours I had not clocked. Speaking of work, Tuesday’s project was going slower than my boss had planned. It was was costing him time and money. So, I began to think, “Did I do something wrong?” “Was it going slow because of me?” Incompetence. “Should I count these hours I am waiting and waiting for this product to work its magic?”
Needless to say, on Tuesday I had a lot of time and a lot to process. As I sat and stewed in my own regret, frustration and defeat my mind ripped off a list of remedies to the pain I was experiencing. It offered up salves, cures and different options to satisfy the angst of my soul:
- Bail on the job and move on. Just screw this one.
- Take a nap while I waited.
- Play a game on my phone.
- Look at porn on my phone.
- Listen to music, a podcast or an audio book on my phone.
- Plan to go out to eat after work. Wouldn’t a Red Robin Banzai Burger be good?
- Go spent some money. A new tool, gadget or shirt would made me feel better, right?
- Yell and scream it out. @%&*(^# this (*^%$!
- Maybe Netflex had a new movie I could zone out and watch tonight.
- On the way home I was tempted to romp of the gas pedal and let the 300+ horses in my truck run wild. Let’s play Mario Cart down Colorado Blvd during rush hour!
I would like to say after listening to all these options I settled on reading Scripture where I found peace, security and hope for the rest of the week. However, this is not the case. I didn’t engage God in prayer, listen to Christian music or even a sermon on the radio.
In the end, I did nothing. Nothing seemed like it would help. I just sat in the pain I was experiencing. I reviewed by mistakes. I kept pronouncing myself guilty. I just examined the regret, anger and defeat, holding them close. Reflecting back on this I was amazed at how badly my mind wanted to end the pain I was feeling. The alternatives just kept flowing, fast and furious.
But, I wonder if the non-safitying option was the right, best and most helpful option? Nothing seemed like it would help…and it did. By doing nothing, I did not hide or mask, defer or deny what I was feeling. I lived in the uncomfortableness of my own thoughts. They may or may not have been accurate, but they are what I felt, so on some level they needed to be dealt with directly.
I believe our culture is too quick to reach for pain relievers. Meds/drugs, entertainment or a full calendar. Let them be false and empty relievers (sex, money or power) or ones that are good and true (rest, silence or confession). We just want the uncomfortable pain to go away at all cost; no matter if it causes us more pain down the line or not. No matter if its only temporary or short lived. Anything is a welcome alternative to misery we are experiencing in the now. We are just not willing to suffer. We are not willing to sit with the tension. We are not willing to do the hard work of processing, wrestling or slogging through our emotions, thoughts or issues.
The best options was the non-option. Actually, by doing nothing I Forest Grump’ed my way into the spiritual disciple of reflection and meditation, I just did not realize it at the time. And now my meditation has found its way into journaling with this post. By not placating my need for release I have taken another step in my journey. A journey I believe that would have been distracted had I followed one of the above rabbit trails. From the experience of Tuesday’s torment I have begin to form a vocabulary that describes the path I am currently on and found strength anew to wrestle with my ego and identify as well as poke into some dark corners of my soul. More on that later…