Ever feel like the fabric of your life gets ripped apart, in need of mending? I do. Ever feel like your own goals get side-tracked by the unexpected and, WHAM, you’re stuck again? Me too!
Welcome to my weekend on the farm.
Last Saturday, I woke at 5 AM to make breakfast for Zach, our 20-year-old. He was called in for mandatory overtime at the factory where he works. Wanting some time with him before he left, I sipped my coffee while he ate his oatmeal, sprinkled with brown sugar and fresh blueberries. The front door closed behind him at 5:45, which I thought was cutting it close, given that getting to work is normally a twelve minute drive at 5 MPH over the speed limit. I have timed this on multiple occasions. (Yes, I’m weird and I never drive the speed limit.)
Five minutes after saying goodbye, cozy warm in my white terrycloth robe, I’m ready to sit down and write.
My cell phone rings.
“I’M STUCK IN A SNOWBANK AT THE BOTTOM OF THE DRIVEWAY AND I CAN’T GET OUT AND NOW I’M GOING TO BE LATE FOR WORK AND LOSE MY JOB! I HATE THIS CAR! THE NEXT CAR I GET IS GOING TO BE A 4-WHEEL DRIVE!!!!”
He’s screaming so loud I worry he might hemorrhage somewhere or blow a vocal cord.
Years of volcanic eruptions such as this have taught me to stay very calm and wait until his emotions have cooled to the point where he can think again and talk in a normal tone of voice.
“Alright. I’ll be down in a minute and drive you to work. Try and calm down.”
I am not even annoyed at this point. Glory!
So I slip on some wool socks and my barn boots and start up the car, still in my cozy white terrycloth robe. When I get to the bottom of our long, country farm driveway, he comes huffing to the passenger side and hurls open the door.
“THAT’S IT! I QUIT! I JUST THREW MY KEYS IN THE SNOWBANK AND NOW THEY’RE LOST!”
He stops screaming and starts sobbing, knees pulled up to his chest. This emotional progression has happened too many times to count over the years. I know what works now.
“So what happened Zach?”
“THERE WAS A DEER THAT SHOT OUT FROM THE FIELD AND I SWERVED SO I WOULDN’T HIT IT AND I GOT STUCK IN THE STUPID SNOWBANK.”
“Were you going too fast?” I asked, suspecting.
Later investigation caused me to conclude, deer or no deer, he had been cruising at a pretty good speed to get as plowed in as he was.
Listening to him now, I would bet he knows that I know he was going too fast and he feels REALLY mad at himself.
“Well, your task right now is to calm yourself down so you can walk into work and do a good job. Use your skills.” I speak to him in my very best therapist voice as I have done over the years to help him with emotions management.
“Ok!” he says.
“One . . . two . . . three . . .”
He takes a couple of deep breaths.
“Four . . . five . . . six.”
A few more deep breaths in, he exhales through his mouth.
“Ready to talk calmly?” I ask.
So we talk and he calms some more. Twelve minutes later, he gets out of the car and walks into work.
I drive back home and have a second cup of coffee. Like I really need revved up after THAT! The writing I had planned to do was interrupted and the rest of the weekend was a whirl with company. And then . . .
I was eager to go to the barn Monday morning for chore duty after a doctor-mandated two week sabbatical. Dressed in polar fleece-lined riding tights, five core layers, hand warmers in gloves, a neck gator, a polar fleece headband under a wool hat, wool socks on feet stuffed into thermal, “Just-try-and-make-me-cold!”-defiant boots, my first day back on barn chore duty after surgery was—well—EUPHORIC! (Told you I’m weird!)
I went to feed the horses. And my plans for writing afterward got interrupted—AGAIN!
My sweetest mare, Shania, had a huge glob of frozen blood hanging to the bottom of a deep gash on her left cheek.
It was 8 BELOW ZERO, actual temperature, with a cutting wind to boot! I tried to assess the wound and pulled off the blood clot accidentally causing the frozen gash to open and bleed profusely. I applied as much pressure as Shania would allow to quell the bleeding, fed the horses quickly, then ran inside and called the vet.
An hour later, the surgical procedure began. First, the vet sedated her. Next, the clippers! That dreaded, noisy, fur-cutting instrument Shania hates most started buzzing and approaching her cheek. She flinched, fighting the sedation. I could see the fear in her blue eye so I stood by her and gently stroked her neck saying, “You’re OK, Shania. You’re going to be OK. I’m here.”
Through the whole shaving and cleansing and stitching process, Shania kept her left blue eye on my eyes. I could swear she was talking to me, pleading, “Stay! Please stay and reassure me that this is OK—that I’ll be OK! Please—don’t—leave—me!” Her ears turned toward me every time I spoke soothing words to her, and she stared at me, clinging to my voice and my touch.
After the stitching was complete and the tetanus shot injected, Shania calmed in her stall. I went into the warmth of our home and thought.
I thought about my goals and my plans—for the day—for my life. I thought about my son. I thought about my horse. And I thought about how life gets interrupted so often. I thought about the “inconveniences” that keep us from moving forward toward our goals, seemingly. And then, I remembered my mantra. There is no such thing as coincidence. And I remembered one of my favorite Bible verses. All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
Right this minute, I sit here wondering while keyboarding about the side-tracks, the ruts, the wounds, the fear that so often comes in unexpected ways to all of us. Can we breathe into these moments, trusting our God to care? He whispers softly, wisely, as we keep our eyes on Him and our ears turned toward His words . . .
“You’re OK. You’re going to be OK. I’m here—for you.”
I’m taking a few deep breaths right now and counting, calming. I’m remembering all the ways God has always been with me, through the scariest times of my life. I’m remembering that He has ALWAYS kept His promise to me, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5).
And He seals His promise with His blood.
Crazy thing just happened . . . really.
My thumb wound—a nasty paper cut I have been nursing for days—it just opened up—again—and splotched the Hebrews verse I quoted above—with a spot of red.