Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Grain of Sand in my Shoe

Mount Taranaki, New Zealand
Posted partly because it fit the quote below, but mostly because right now I just miss New Zealand

It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out - it's the grain of sand in your shoe.
-Robert Service

I would like to be different.  I would like to be more loving, more tolerant.  At the very least I would like to be growing towards being more tolerant.  But some days, it's all too much.  And it comes at me from a million different sources- irritating Facebook posts, text messages, rude grocery store clerks, aggressive drivers, children, squeaky brakes, no parking places at my apartment.  The little tiny annoying things that make me crazy.  And some days I can handle them, but some days, I just can't.  

I go through phases, really.  I can go weeks and sometimes months without being affected by the little things that go on around me.  I can be patient and long-suffering.  I don't comment on the ignorant things people write on Facebook, and I barely give them a second thought.  I let the rude driver pass me and I don't say a word.  I smile at the unpleasant cashier.  I let the passive-aggressive tweets go by.  I clean off the sweaty gym equipment and I don't even look for the guy that just used it (so that I can give him the stink eye). 

But other times.  Oh, other times.  I get a condescending email.  And my 13-year-old Facebook friend has just posted her 37th picture within the last hour.  Someone talks to me like I am a five-year-old.  And Sugarland comes on my Pandora station.  And my knee hurts.  And there are 7 passive aggressive Facebook statuses, two hyper-spiritual ones, and one person talking about what a great and perfect person she is.  And the person in the truck behind me honks his horn the second the light turns green.  I'm going!  And the cashier is talking on her cell phone while ringing up my purchases.  On.  Her.  Cell phone.  Seriously.  And I have just enough of a headache to frustrate me.  And my shoes are too tight.  And I gained a pound.  And I am two days behind on my Bible reading and I feel like I will never catch up.  And Netflix "is currently unavailable".  And the only thing that sounds good for dinner is a big fat cheeseburger.  

None of these things are mountains for the climbing.  They aren't bankruptcy or divorce or cancer or natural disasters.  They are grains of sand in my shoe.  But they destroy happiness and contentment just as effectively as a larger enemy.  The process just takes longer.  It's just a long and painful death rather than a quick one that I didn't see coming.  

You want to know the difference, though, between my good, tolerant phases and my oh-my-goodness-if-I-see-one-more-stupid-thing-on-Facebook-I-am-going-to-punch-someone-in-the-face phases?  The difference is me.  The difference is in my own heart and head.  It is in my current spiritual condition.  It is in my prayer life.  It is in my choice to ignore the insignificant things in life and focus on truth and things that are good and lovely and virtuous.  

I was at a really low point last week when I started this blog post.  I texted a girlfriend "When I log into Facebook and I see a status and instantly wish the author would fall into a deep, dark pit for writing stupid things, I know I am not in a good place".  She responded with the wisest and simplest of answers, "Maybe you should step away".  And so I did.  I limited the number of times a day that I check all social media.  I started to meditate on the Scripture that I am working on memorizing.  I started to say quick prayers about the minor irritations.  And you know what?  It helped.  It always does.

It's funny that I have no problem handing over the big things in life to God.  I look at them, think "Whoa, there's no way I can do this... so here you go", and pass them right off to the One who can take care of them.  But the small things.  The small, annoying things in life, I feel like I am capable of handling alone.  And so I put them in my backpack and I carry them until I am so tired and crabby that I want to punch everyone.  And that is a dumb idea.  Because it never works.  It always ends badly.  It always ends with me crying my eyes out because the world is too hard.  And it is.  And so I renew my determination to hand these small things over as they come.  To respond in the Spirit instead of the flesh that grows tired (quickly) and reacts badly (often).  To practice Philippians 4:6 and pray about everything.  Everything.  Pray about Netflix and my sore knee and my car that seems to be falling apart.  And parking places and work problems and gaining weight.  Everything.  

And so, as you go through your day, I invite you to join me.  Pray about the laundry and the toys scattered all over your house and the unpleasant tone of voice your husband used with you this morning.  And pray about your bills that you can't pay and your singleness that you are trying to be content with and the person at work that drives you nuts.  Pray, and I'll pray, too.  


  1. I'm praying too!!!

  2. Less of me. More of Him. That's my prayer every day (and a thousand times in between)
    Love you!!

  3. When I deleted my Facebook, people thought I was crazy. They still give me a hard time. I shut off my Twitter. I stopped all forms of social media. I'm not saying it's the best thing for everyone but it has been the absolute best thing for me. Those times that I would have spent checking out some friend's "WiLd NiGhT On ThE ToWn" pictures or pictures of their Great Aunt's birthday party, I now spend with my family. Talking, sharing, laughing, reading, listening. It has changed me.

    I finally realized that me being intolerant wasn't the problem. It was me filling my head and filling my time with nonsense. Things that just don't matter.

    This guy did a 90 day "Amish" project with no technology at all. It's a neat video. My favorite quote from it is when he realized how he changed and he says, "I had relationships with people and not profile pages." Check it out:

  4. Goodness I needed to hear this today! You are so funny and I COMPLETELY empathize with you on this. I sometimes shock myself with how impatient with people I am! I just have to hand it over to God!



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