It has been one of those days where I could just lay on the bed and cry about the gloominess of it all. I feel like Eeyore. I have misplaced an essential: my ability to feel the joy. And when that happens, one is left with two choices: recoil or embrace. Cry or laugh. So I might as well laugh as cry. Here goes.
As it is Sunday, I am preparing for church. The clothes are laid out, the beds made, the kitchen tidied up. Ah! But don’t be fooled by this idyllic picture. Every Sunday morning is a mad dash to the finish line with me in last place. No contest. And this Sunday is no exception: I will be the last one in the van as per the norm. There is always that one last thing to do: wipe the dishrag across the cupboard, straighten a chair, pick up pajamas. Oh yes, and dress myself. Something I usually do about five minutes before I shut the door behind me. But finally, I am ready. I head out the door, sandals straps flapping as I go. There will be time to buckle them in the van. I look back to the rows of seats in our van. There are four children behind me. No one has been forgotten in the morning rush. A good thing, but a necessary check nonetheless.
We drive the ten minutes to church, arriving fashionably late. But we do get there just in time for Sunday School opening session to come to a close. Lovely. I head off to Sunday School class, as I believe it is my turn to teach the preschool group, finding out when I arrive that someone else has that covered today. Not to be outdone, I suggest that I will help this lovely woman organize the Sunday School material in my free hour. I wouldn’t want to actually relax now, would I? So, I sit down to what I believe in my head is a doable job: organizing three years worth of loose odds and ends that have been left in a pile for the 3-4 year old Sunday Schoolers. As they cannot read, they are not going to be too bothered doing the same paper twice. Right? I can hardly see where I’ve begun and where I came to an end. Papers are everywhere.
I set about finishing my task. And the more I search through the papers, the more I realize that it is like an absolute maze in there. A labyrinth. All of the papers have been colour coded various shades of blue. As I think I am about finished with one stack, another paper in that same hue of blue will appear. Leaving me to back track and get lost in a sea of blue color tones for the better part of an hour. And there must be a million pictures that go with Lesson 1. I can hardly even begin to make sense of it all. At the end, I shove as many papers as I can into a plastic sleeve and call it a wrap. And that’s when I find the flannel graphs and lesson plans for the light blue color-coded stack that I originally started with.
Can we say “confusing”?
Enough of that. It is worship service time as soon as Sunday School ends. As I am both piano player and worship team leader today, I get down to business. Things are going fairly smoothly, and I play an offertory solo segueing into the worship music that I am to lead from the piano. It becomes quite apparent to me, quickly into the first song that we sing, that my voice is going. And because I am losing my voice, I am also starting to get distracted. I can feel myself losing it. I have become less and less able to multi-task of late, and I begin to wonder if this is a sign of early-onset menopause. I have visions of other, far worse possibilities and none of these thoughts are enabling me to get my thoughts back to where they need to be: on the worship.
I press on in spite of my waning voice. But I am straining to reach those high notes. So I switch it up. Instead of singing melody, I sing harmony. I am on lead vocals, singing a raspy version of a Casting Crowns single when I realize my voice is going to leave me entirely. And quite abruptly. My husband tells me after (when I press him to be honest) that it was difficult to follow the music, what with me singing harmony, the guitarist singing melody with no mike pick-up and my voice- of course- going the way of the dodo bird.
During church, I cannot stop thinking about my voice giving out. I am still envisioning the worst. I believe I have a dreadful disease. I am going to have to quit my job and go on unemployment. And stay at home and write for a living. And other such delightful prospects. Nevertheless. I am determined to go to the local out-patients clinic at the hospital, immediately following church. As I hear my son coughing on the other side of the pew, next to my husband, I think that I will make it a family affair and take him too. Then I remember my second oldest has also been coughing for the last month, so why not make it a trio and get everyone looked at in one sitting. Surely we could be in and out in under two hours, leaving me and the two kiddos tagging along, the rest of the afternoon to do as we please.
Six hours later. Two antibiotics, two sets of blood work, two bottles of nose drops, two x-rays, one prescription for allergy pills and one referral to an ENT, we arrived home right in the middle of supper hour. Witching hour. And as everyone had the entire afternoon to be away from siblings that usually got under their skin or rubbed them the wrong way, we immediately began what I like to refer to as mortal combat. Because there is usually one last man standing when this fun game is over. My mild-mannered husband remarked, as the kids were screaming up the stairs to bed, that we had not had an evening quite like this one in a very long time.
To which I silently say to myself, “No, not since last night.”
Which leads me to say this: there has got to be a silver lining somewhere in these dark clouds. So, my first smile of the day was brought about by my youngest. I find her in her bedroom holding a half-naked Barbie in one hand and a scantily clad Ken in the other whilst they wrapped their plastic lips around one another’s faces to my daughter’s great delight. And I realize, as I watched them there, those two iconic love birds making out with one another on her bed, that it is all about perspective. Whether we find our joy in work or play, reality or imagination, laughing or crying, happiness or suffering: it is there. Joy. Somewhere- it is there. We just have to find it. And pin this essential back on where it belongs.