Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Math and mercy

I had a minor “freak out” session this week.
It had just been one of those days, you know? I was in a stressed out mood from the start. Two cups of coffee didn’t help. Reading my Bible probably would have helped, but I didn’t get to do that because the boys got up before 7 a.m. They complained about the fact that we only had one cereal option. “Tough,” was my response. “There are children all over the world who don’t get to eat any breakfast. Sit there, eat this, and be thankful for it.” After breakfast, we got dressed and we started school.
I should have known it would be a rough day with my mood being what it was. But I was unprepared for how grumpy the kids would be. School was a nightmare. Them talking back, or not listening, or making up excuses over and over of things they had to do…things that only became pressing when I was right in the middle of teaching them something. The two little boys, who usually play happily while we do school, kept running into the school room, yelling and fighting. At one point I bodily removed them from the room, closed and LOCKED the door, and then felt absolutely no remorse while they stood outside the door and cried. It was just that kind of morning.
To make it worse my daughter finally came up against a math problem that she couldn’t figure out. Not that this is the end of the world. I knew it would happen eventually. But if you knew her you would understand why it was such a surprise to me. She has been easy to teach from the very first day. She just GETS it. Reading came easily, and math, and EVERYTHING. She tests two grade levels ahead of her age on the state required testing. Teaching her is a breeze. My son…well, he’s a boy, so everything starts slower. But Faith is my easy student. Until this day.
Now math is not my favorite subject. Rephrase-I HATE MATH. I always got good grades in it, but I never liked it. I think it’s a waste of my time. And yes, I have heard all the arguments about how it’s the subject you will need most in real life. I am married to a financial analyst, people. I get the “Math is the greatest” speech every day. But I hate it. And Faith is doing 6th grade math this year even though she is only in 4th grade(see what I mean about smart?) so the math is getting pretty hard. I explain this particular equation to her…and she just blinks. So we go through it again…still no dawning realization…I try another way of explaining it…and she shakes her head and asks me to do it again. Now keep in mind that during all of this Clay is supposed to be writing down the months of the year in order (and they are written down for him already, he only has to COPY them) but instead he is staring out the window, and drawing doodles on his desk, and making machine gun noises with his mouth. Nate and Gabe are still standing outside the locked school room door crying. My patience is hanging on by a thread. Finally I say “You know what Faith? Let’s wait till Daddy gets home and we will ask him about this problem.” Her look of total devastation breaks my heart. I smile at her. “It’s not a big deal, Faith. You’re not in trouble. I just think maybe he can explain it to you a different way than me and you’ll understand it better.”
So school ended and I was feeling pretty wrung out. Faith had a play date set up with her friend, so after I dropped her off I decided to treat myself to frozen lemonade from McDonalds. The boys were asking for some too. I ordered a large and told them I would share when we got home. We arrived at home, and I dumped some for each of them into a cup. I was holding Gabe on my hip, enjoying my self-indulgent treat, when he decided to try and grab it out of my hand.
You know where this is heading. He knocked it out of my grasp and the whole thing spilled onto the floor. I said a really ugly word under my breath. It was just that kind of day. And then I had to mop up my splurge treat that I didn’t even get to enjoy…while listening to the boys slurp theirs.
By the time Heath got home from work I was worse off than when the day started. I asked him to please help Faith with her math problem. He said sure, and asked me to tell him what the problem was. I showed him the book, tried to explain to him the trouble she was having…and he just stared at me like I was speaking Chinese. I guess I wasn’t very clear on the problem. So I tried again…”You’re gonna have to give me an example,” he said. After a few more attempts, he finally understood what my FRIED mind translated into words for him, and he started explaining to me what to do. Now it was my turn to stare. “You’re speaking college math to me.” I said. He laughed. “No, I’m not. This is exactly what the book is telling her.”
“AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA!!!!!!!!!” Okay, I put that in quotes even though I didn’t actually scream out loud. But I wanted to. If I couldn’t understand what he was saying, how would Faith? My one salvation in this homeschooling thing is that when higher math arrives I can let him help them, since he is a math whiz. Except I have no idea what he is talking about!!!!!!! In fairness to him, I don’t think I would have understood if he had said “when you find two Easter eggs in the grass and then you find two more on the playground, how many do you have?” I was too fried. So we ended the conversation by deciding that when that problem came up again she should skip it and have Heath help her with it at night…without me there to confuse things.
By the time I crawled into bed, I was beating my head against the pillow…wishing it was something hard. Heath was sitting in chair beside the bed getting ready to read a Psalm to me like he does every night. But I was ready to vent.
“School was a nightmare. The house is a wreck. The boys wouldn’t nap, so I didn’t get the flowers planted that I was planning to. The kids don’t listen. They argue with me, they whine, they disobey. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”
Again the scream was only in my head, but I swear it was loud enough that Heath could hear it.
“None of that is really true, you know.” This was his calm, quiet response.
“Yes!” I snapped. “I know that. But emotions don’t care about what’s true, and right now all I feel are emotions.”
He read to me, kissed me, and I turned off the light to go to sleep while he went to the living room to work for a few more hours. Because the truth was that his day was every bit as crappy as mine. He still had work to do at 9:30 at night, that’s how crappy his day was. But he didn’t complain about it. He just let me rant about mine, then went and continued his.
Feeling appropriately reprimanded by this thought, I lay in bed, tears in my eyes, thinking.
I wondered if God had ever felt like screaming. Or wished for something hard to smack His head against. Or ranted to the angels about how BADLY His kids had behaved. If ever there was a day for Him to look down and feel like freaking out over someone’s attitude, this was it, because my attitude SUCKED. I deserved Him to freak out on me.
But He didn’t. Instead, He just listened while I poured out all my emotions to Him. Just like Heath had done. He listened, and then He reminded me what was true…just like Heath had done.
“Mightier than the violent raging of the seas (and a woman’s emotions) Mightier than the breakers on the shore (and a kids disobedience) The Lord above is mightier than these!” Psalm 93:4
I cried. He spoke. I listened. And I fell asleep with the peace that only comes when you KNOW you deserved a beating and He gave you mercy and comfort instead. That’s just how He is. Wonderful news, isn’t it? We deserve His wrath, and He gives us His love. And in the morning, His mercy is NEW!!!!!
“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness: His mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself ‘The Lord is my inheritance, therefore I will hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, those who search for Him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” Lamentations 3:21-26
I use up ALL my mercy every day. I need new mercy!!!! Sometimes I need an advance on tomorrow’s mercy. I wonder if I have to understand higher math in order to get that advance…maybe Heath can explain it to me.

1 comment:

  1. I surely needed to read this today. Thanks for your transparency Charity