Thursday, April 30, 2009

How to Have Your Crow and Eat it, Too: Part I


Moron! That's what I told myself as the van choked out on the side of the road yesterday.

I had just left my first Weight Watchers meeting and was headed to school where I teach afternoon classes. Karen had met up with me at the 12:30 meeting and had helped me keep an eye on the clock; I left WW at 1:00. My intention was to stop for gas and then zip to school.
The station was less than a half mile way, as the crow flies, from where I pulled over on the shoulder of Route 24, out of the way of a seeming zillion cars in the early afternnon. I looked at the clock. 1:12. Oh, no. I am supposed to be there by 1:30.

I reached for my cell phone. Dead!

You're really a moron! No gas, no cell phone? How stupid can you be? How old are you? What now? Pray.

Lord, I've done it again. I'm so stupid. I know I should have gotten gas before the meeting, but I didn't want to be late. Please send me help soon so I can get to school. After all, I was looking forward to acting out my lesson on Hard Times: Soup Kitchens in the Great Depression. I had my box of chicken broth along and everything. Can cars run on chicken broth? I was tempted for a second to find out.

Stay with the vehicle. That's what Paul would tell me. I wished he were here. Even though he'd chew me out, it'd be better than being alone. Oh, Father, help me. Please send someone!
I watched my rearview as drizzle began to collect on the windshield--and my heart. Raindrops got heavier and the clock ticked on. It was now 1:37. They'd start to wonder, where is she? You're putting people out, making Cheryl wait. You've been impatient when kids have dawdled on the way to class, and now you're making them wait. Irresponsible! Why did you even try to make the Weight Watchers meeting? Is your weight loss more important than being prepared for school?

The word "prepared" made me laugh and cry at once. Teaching fifth and sixth graders means training students in personal responsibility--to help them remember to have pencils, papers, books, and homework where they need it, when they need it. I occasionally have to send home an " Unprepared Slip" with a student for a parent to sign. When a student forgets something really important that messes up other people's day, I hand a writing assignment to the offender, requiring they tell me all the ways their irresponsibillity has affected others, and make them write a note of apology, asking forgiveness of all involved. Let's see, running out of paper versus running out of gas. Hmmm.

In the distance I could see the intersection where I could turn, where just at the crest of the hill is a gas station. I was so close! Then I heard a medevac helicopter, and suddenly it was hovering just beyond the intersection somewhere. Bad accidents were common here. I quickly thought about where each of my driving-age kids would be. Ben: home working on a paper. Stephen: school or home. Sarah...works at 1:00. Dear Lord, I hope Sarah made it to work okay. I hope she didn't take 24 to work today.

Fear seized me like a grizzly bear. "God, take these thoughts. What do I do?"

Sing, He said. Sing to Me.

I was reminded of a blog post my friend, Emily, had written. No details, just the title and remembering what Paul and Silas did in their time of distress: they sang. So I began "How Great Thou Art, " which--oddly enough--led into "Silent Night" . (Whatever, it brought my thoughts into submission.)

This is no time to cry. What do you tell your students when they are about to cry over something trivial? "Take it like a man." But Lord, I've got too much woman in me to take it like a man. Help me! Help me get a grip! I'm out of gas, not oxygen. I don't want someone to come along and find me in a full panic with mascara lines down to my shoulders.

I giggled a little to myself when I realized I was weeping on the side of a major highway: Lord, you've given me a "shoulder" to cry on.

Then I wondered, what if someone heard about that accident, knew I hadn't shown up for work, and... Oh, Lord, please guard anyone I love from thinking it's me. Don't let anyone be worried. I'm fine!

Fine? You're a hypocrite as well as a moron! my thoughts said, clearly crafted by the Enemy of my Soul. You're causing people to worry, you're never gonna make it to school, you'll be the laughingstock of the campus. If you can't keep gas in your car, you shouldn't have a license. Satan's attack was vicious, each thought piercing my mind like a snakebite.

4 comments:

Laurie Lynn said...

Great Part 1!
I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for Part 2!
"Hypocrite and Moron" sound like similar names I call myself! My favorite is, "You IDIOT!!!"
Though the names seem accurate, God graciously transcends the names and reminds me Whose I am!!

Amy said...

oh, you are so mean to leave us hanging like this!

terri said...

You have to give us "the rest of the story!"
When in those situations, it is hard to remember that we are children of the most high and He will never let us down.

itsboopchile said...

You're on your computer so you must be okay.
But that's not enough. We want to know how you got to where you are, safe and sound.
Betty G