This morning I read that GOD is an acronym for “gifts of desperation” (Anne Lamott). Yes, I do believe that makes perfect sense, at least on this morning as I struggle to ignore a head cold and the natural frustrations of dealing with teenage children. I choose to have a fabulous day. I put my troubles in a box and put them on a shelf in the deepest corner of my mind so I can move forward.
In the first class of the day, we read the latest news about North Korea. Fear licks at my heels. Talk of war is crazy talk no matter how sane any one sounds.
“I’m a pacifist,” I tell myself and then I remember the argument I had with my daughter as I dropped her off at school. Am I really a pacifist if I am so easily drawn into conflict and defense of my position? Give peace a chance, let it begin with me? St. Francis and Gandhi and a few crazy hippies start fighting for real estate in my soul. No body is winning. I am at war with myself, the person I want to be and the person I really am. The cold in my head and the conflict in my soul make my head ache. I lean on my hands.
My body language starts to say, “I am defeated.”
This must be stopped. I take another empty imaginary box and pile in all the bits and pieces of problems that are robbing my day of contentment. I tape it shut, good and tight and carry it down to the darkest cellar in my soul and put it on the highest shelf. I had to climb to do so.
I smile and repeat, “Fake it until you make it,” over and over in my mind until the noise starts to set me on edge. Fear of nuclear war blends with fear of not being a good mother. That fabulous day I planned seems a bit out of reach.
The school security guard named, Steve wishes me a good morning. I smile broadly and say, “Happy Friday.”
He responds, “It is a happy Friday indeed!”
For a few minutes, I crawl into my smile and actually live there. Ah, I like this place. It fits me and it feels so good. I remember what I read this morning before the day really began: GOD=gifts of desperation. This is my God. I need a gift in desperation. This is a gift I must take off the shelf. It can’t remain locked inside. I have to open it and use it, get to know it, become part of it because I am that desperate, desperate for a salvation that sometimes seems to lie just beyond my grasp on a Friday morning full of head colds and teenagers.
My mind slips into yesterday afternoon. I’m in the dentist chair moments after getting a call that my daughter doesn’t have her house key and can’t get in the house. The day is warm and there is no rain. There are kind neighbors nearby. This is a teachable moment. I allow consequences to run their natural course but still I worry. Should I run home to rescue them? No, some times you have to let people learn things without rescuing them. It is the only way. This is something a gift of desperation knows.
Soon my feet are higher than my head. Three shots of Novocain numb my upper jaw. I am giant chipmunk with nothing to show. My eyes are numb. Will I still be able to see clearly?. My fear of the dentist hides in the back of my mind. It’s in a box in that dark corner of my head. I once felt terror in the dentist chair. For a moment, the terror rises in my throat. I say hello and let it shrink back into the darkness. Several times during all the drilling, suction and metallic tastes that haunt my open mouth, I feel the terror try to climb into the light. I stare up at the ceiling and debate if I should close my eyes. I leave them open and blink behind a pair of cheap sunglasses as spit and mist and amalgam swirl out of my mouth, a reverse whirlpool of unpleasantness.
Gifts of desperation don’t fail me now. I try to pray, to empty my mind and only allow goodness to fill it. Prayer without words touches my desperation and floods me with a quiet almost imperceptible peace but I still know it’s there and that for a moment, I am different than I was the moment before. Desperation and confidence, war and peace, light and darkness really aren’t opposites. They are part of the same thing. They are all part of my God of desperation. They are gift. I would not know one without the other.