My Jewish friends tell me that arguing with God is par for the course. That it should be done early and often. That such wrangling—a good scolding now and then—is good for the soul and for my spiritual relationship.
I was raised Roman Catholic. Not only did we not argue with God, we even capitalized the pronoun referring to our deity. There was no wrangling. He was supreme. We were docile, loved peons in the grand scheme of things. The scoldees, not the scolders.
The other night, I took a page out of my Jewish friends’ book. I told God, in no uncertain terms, that something had to give. I used those exact words. I felt I had too much on my plate—too much to handle—yet again. Life needed to get easier.
It did not. And something certainly did give. I believe it was me.
Just in case you were wondering, this is not what I had in mind when I delivered my little diatribe to the almighty.
I awoke the morning after scolding God to a morning of conference calls and a few errands. As I ran my first errand, my car was hit by an elderly woman. An elderly woman who could not properly see her traffic light was red because her eyes had been dilated by her ophthalmologist. That meant she could not also see that all cars at her traffic signal were stopped because of a red light. She sailed through and hit me soundly. I’ll spare you my diatribe on people who drive while unable to clearly see.
This incident was followed up that evening by my youngest saying he has not ruled out boarding school. As I smiled and said, “Great,” I was hoping he did not see the tears forming in the corners of my eyes. I am verklempt at having just four years left with him at home, let alone contemplating having less than one year. As an added bonus, I’ll spare you my diatribe on the cost of tuition.
And just today, I had the distinct pleasure of being on a conference call with a woman who insists on calling me “the writer” when referring to me—never addressing me directly by my name. While I certainly can’t compare conference call corporate politics to the Rwanda genocide or the Holocaust, I was tempted to remind her that dehumanizing people by not using their name is something most of us savvy journalists are familiar with already. And we avoid it. (It’s called being human.) Oops, I guess I can’t say I’ll spare you my diatribe on corporate politics.
The icing on the cake was meeting a good friend for dinner tonight and having just about the worst Vietnamese food I’ve ever had. And then wondering if that really was chicken they served me. My upset stomach begs to differ.
You get the idea, right? You don’t need me to go on. When I got “salty” with God, as my eldest calls it, I was clear. Something had to give. I meant the outer events in my life. But the icky ones kept on comin’. The ones that make me frustrated, or fearful, or angry–or sick to my stomach.
My first reaction to it all: “Very funny, God. Now stop that. Seriously.”
And then, it hit me. I was being shown what had to give. It was me. Specifically, it was my old programmed reactions to the outer events in my life.
The beauty of it is—I think I passed this test with flying colors.
I was sweet as pie to the woman who hit me. Even when she started to get salty with me after she saw the price for auto body work.
Rather than kvetching (Oy. All the Yiddish words. I really am channeling my Jewish friends in this post, aren’t I?), I am focusing on the bright side of boarding school for my son—the many opportunities it would open up for him and the new freedom it would give me.
As for corporate politics, I’ve been able to keep a lofty distance from them this week. It’s as if I’m able to observe from a mountaintop, without being in the middle of the fray. I can’t explain it, other than knowing it’s a good feeling. A better feeling.
There’s no easy fix for the meal, people. Believe me, for literary symmetry, I’ve tried to come up with enlightenment around my reaction to the meal. But I can’t. I’m drinking tea and hoping to feel better in the morning.
I’ve not become Pollyanna. I still see, very clearly, that being in an accident sucks. Having a dent in my car because someone else was careless is not fun. I see how much I’d miss my son and what we’d miss out on if he leaves for boarding school—everything from Sunday dinners to hearing about his day, at the kitchen island. And I still really cannot stand the egos that drive corporate politics. I find them silly and want to encourage them to find a new hobby.
But my reaction to these events is now a response. Read that again. I am responding, not reacting. I am not allowing any event to determine my mindset and thoughts—my degree of happiness or lack thereof. Events will continue—both good and bad. My mental and emotional well-being does not have to yo-yo with them. Easy to say, harder to do. But this week, at least, I’m doing it.
Therein lies the difference.
I scolded the Universe and promptly got schooled. It follows that I’m not sure I share my Jewish friends’ passion for arguing with the divine.
But in this case, I’ll take the end result.