Tom called me into his office and said, “Here. I want you to sit in my seat a minute. I will be right back.” I was thinking, “Ok…?” So, I began gazing around the room (formerly known as MY office) and glancing at his multiple computer screens, wondering why I was sitting there.
Bounding back in, he exclaimed indignantly, “Well, did you feel the whole house shake!?” I replied, “Umm, no? What are you talking about?”
“I just went outside like you do and slammed the door shut to demonstrate how freaking annoying it is! It’s been 3 months working from home and I thought I could deal with it, but I just can’t take it anymore!”
Cue the inappropriate laughter. I mean, you all, I was doubled over and cackling, because I was utterly oblivious as he tried so hard to demonstrate how thoughtless and irritating I am. I just didn’t notice. I was completely unaware.
Actually, I think my laughter diffused the whole thing. He smirked against his will and gave me a little love tap on the derriere before telling me to get the hell out… while shaking his head. It was actually incredibly funny. There wasn’t any escalation, and that’s the magic of love.
Afterward, I went outside to rebound while Z got up a few jump shots. I asked Zach if I have a door-slamming thing. He said, “YES! Mom, you are actually the worst!”
HAHAHA! Who knew? Apparently, everyone but me. Okay then, now that I know, I can work on that. Once again, I affirm that although I am certainly the daughter of the Most High God, I am also Shelly, which means I am unambiguously limited.
Without a doubt, the repeated door slamming was both anger-inducing and thoughtless. We’re in month four of COVID (working from home) world, and the unrelenting lack of professionalism by Tom’s current “co-workers” might be starting to get to him. Also, though, it was a series of acts committed utterly without malice. Is there a need to amend my behavior? Yes. Am I now a door slammer in recovery? Well, the jury is still out. I would contend that my poor behavior has improved as exit percentages go, but I’m pretty sure Tom only remembers the times I slide back into old habits. Do you think it makes it any better that I usually cringe on the other side of the door when I realize I’ve done it again? Eh…likely not.
This is far from the first time that our lack of temperamental compatibility has caused an impasse. Placing my mouthwash bottle on Tom’s side of the bathroom counter and the crunching sound I make when chewing my lifesaver mints instead of sucking on them are also frequent decorum violations to which I’m prone. You guys, I have these lesser parts which abound. The thing that makes this and all relationships work despite the character and behavior flaws as well as the disagreements over matters both miniscule and boulder-sized… is the presence of love. What also helps me when I screw up (or someone I live with is just flat bugging me) is that I know in the light of eternity, there is precious little for which it is worth losing my peace. I’m a work in process with so much to improve, but I’m trying. This applies to things much bigger than door slamming and counter hogging, by the way.
I’m not everyone’s preferred flavor, and that’s just fine. I admit that I am a person who entertains her feelings a little too much, so sometimes I’m wounded by this reality. That can end badly if I let it. Satan loves the kind of rejection that frightens us into the belief that God doesn’t love us, or He doesn’t have a good plan for us. This is a corrupting, hopeless lie. If you find you need to find the escape hatch from the darkness, pray this quick prayer to stop the king of lies. Jesus, tell me You love me until I believe you.
I have learned to choose differently, and so can you. I find that when our hearts are cracked open a touch, we leave that vulnerable, glorious space for Jesus to sneak in. If He, who is love itself, finds a welcome space, we soon find ourselves participating in the divine life, despite our shortcomings, fears, and limitations. He has loved us anyway, restless hearts and all.
Our souls are ordered to the love of the God who made us, so a sniff of His overwhelming grace and mercy begs for a response. For me, it makes me want to speak life. I want to inspire hope and be the reason someone believes in goodness. Some other great folks have done the same for me, and I’d like to pay it forward.
As dangerous as it might feel in the environment we are surrounded by today, I propose we try loving others with abandon, despite their flaws or our own. Right now, the world is telling us that hope is a waste of time and our enemies have us trapped on all sides. I read this old quote by CS Lewis which demonstrates the danger of this line of thinking quite succinctly.
“Suppose that one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then, suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling ‘Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second, then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then finally to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything– God and our friends and ourselves included– as bad, and not able to stop doing it; we shall be fixed forever in a universe of pure hatred.” (CS Lewis)
Deep goodness and beauty exists in each and every one of us. Heroic virtue is what we need right now. First, we’ve got to maintain mercy towards ourselves, then we need to let it spread to those around us– especially when we think they might not deserve it.
Admittedly, I am just a housewife here but the acrimony is easy to spot and fury seems to be dialed to high out there right now. There are a plethora of influential and powerful folks making a lot of bothersome and provoking noise right now. However, as far as I can tell, Jesus was not into big shots. He wasn’t into strict adherence to rules that lack compassion or common sense. He was more into speaking life, tending to the least, and most of all Jesus was into sacrificial love. From what I’ve read, He was really, really into that. I want to be like that guy a little more. So, I pray a lot.
“You go to pray; to become a bonfire, a living flame, giving light and heat.” (St. Josemaria Escriva)
That means I’ve got to die to myself and love EVERYONE foolishly. I’ll start with you. You are deeply and powerfully loved by the God of the universe, in whose image you are made, even if you slam doors and irritate your family. When you look in the mirror, see the good. You are enough. If you need me to pray for you in your current struggle, say so. I’ve got a list, and I’d be honored to put your name on it.
I’ll leave you with this golden nugget from a holy priest named Msgr. Laughlin. He said when we weren’t sure if we were getting it right, we should try to order our lives as much as possible to love like Christ, knowing of course that we will fall well short. However, also he suggested we pay no attention to the devil when we fail, but instead remember the last four things: death, judgement, heaven and hell. While we don’t want to be presumptuous, it’s equally important to understand that our judge loves us so much He died for us.