The Day in Two Parts

Tonight I want to be ten pounds lighter. I want to have written more pages of an essay that sounds brilliant instead of boring even to me. I want to have weeded my back patio more thoroughly. I want my day lilies to still be blooming in two and a half weeks but I know they’ll be spent out already.  I wanted to deliver a dessert to a new neighbor and they weren’t home so now I have a casserole dish of peach cobbler and no one to eat it except me, which will be great going down and then I’ll find out that I need to lose fifteen pounds instead of ten.  I wanted to run a mile but mapmyrun said I only ran three-quarters, and it was in the rain and now my shoes are wet and smelly.  The crunches aren’t working fast enough.  My zucchini and cucumbers are going to be ready during the busiest two weeks of the year and I won’t be around to pick/eat them.  Henry had to have shots today.  My husband is playing poker at a friend’s house.  I feel frumpy and old and tired.  I can’t get the dirt out from underneath my nails.  One of my kids put a cup and a sticker in the upstairs toilet and I had to fish it out.  Someone else drew pictures on the wall above her bed, and we’re blaming a kid that doesn’t live here.  And the nightlight cover was jammed into the vent.  I am discouraged and tired and lonely and depressed and impatient and disappointed and sad and discontent.  Alexander has nothing on me and my terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.

But I baked a mighty fine-smelling peach cobbler.  The kids and husband and I took a walk around the block with its pleasant aroma wafting up through the potholders.  And now it is waiting for me in the oven.  Henry smiled at me.  Several times.  Lydia chased me down the driveway at lunch encouraging me to have a good day at work and see you after rest time and I love you!  I made eggs for everyone at breakfast and didn’t break anybody’s yolks.  My toast was still hot when I buttered it so the butter melted.  My tea was just the right kind of sweet.  Sometime in the last 48 hours my husband told me I’m a good wife and mom and he loves me too.  Elvis snuggled up next to me on the couch and I could smell summer in his hair.  My boss thought I had a good idea during our meeting.  Lydia thanked God for God at dinner.  Everyone ate their food, and everyone got ice cream.  The run in the rain was refreshing and funny and I didn’t even dodge the puddles.  I ran faster than I have since the fall.  The number on the scale keeps going down.  We read two picture books before bed, one kid on each side of me.  Elvis chose Mickey Mouse to sleep with tonight.  They went to sleep without getting out of bed again.  The air-conditioning is working.  George Strait is singing “Carrying Your Love With Me”. 

I am running on empty, sure, but I have everything I’ll ever need, I’m carrying your love with me.

I have these days sometimes, when the pessimist in me shrieks and squalls until I pay enough attention to him.  He bleeds out into all the crevices of my consciousness so that I only see his ugly face and all of the negative ways he appeared today, in the sweat and the grime and the dirt.  He blots out the satisfaction of living, that deep breath, that gratification, that swelling of joy at a job well done, that quiet peace at the end of a day thoroughly spent.  It’s hard to shake him once he’s fixed his eyes with mine, but this staring contest has to end.  It takes more than just looking for the positives in the day, I must rely on God who makes all things new, whose faithfulness is great, who redeems and renews and brings us to completion even in the face of grumpiness.  He’s conquered sin and death, I think he can conquer crankiness, too.  It sounds trite and easy, sure– turn to God, problem solved.  But the promises he has made and the salvation he bought has the power to wipe away all of these weeds and replace them with the fruit of the spirit.  And let me tell you, I much prefer love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to the laundry list of feelings above.  That fruit is waiting for me.  I have to choose into it.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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