I Was Scathed By Harvey

Correction from my last post, I was indeed scathed by Harvey… but not in the way I was expecting. It goes like this:

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Bumper to bumper, compiled madness of every working man and woman in Houston trying to get to work and home on the same freeway and spare back roads. Lord, help us. If you’ve read my posts about working in corporate, you already know it’s a struggle for me… but now with a commute that has been doubled and, may I say it, tripled since Harvey… I’m scathed. I’m so scathed.

Yesterday, after two hours of braking and nowhere near my home, I broke down. It was tragic. And I had plenty of witnesses since all of us are so packed in and driving transparent fish bowls. People could see the tears in high def… and it wasn’t a pretty sight. I lost it.

Why? Because of everything I was losing.

I had already spent an hour driving to work, nine hours working, and now two hours driving… and getting nowhere. That’s TWELVE HOURS. I ain’t a nurse! I don’t do 12 hours shifts away from home if I can help it. It’s already difficult being away from home the regular 55 hours of a work week (yes, I include commute and lunch).

Here’s my list of losses:
Time with Tucker
Time with my roommates
Time to make dinner
Time to just relax and think about what I wanted to do with my evening

Bottom line: I lost time.

That does not feel good. Ever. I was out of control of my circumstances and couldn’t get over the injustice of personal loss. Who could I blame? My bosses for not adjusting work hours the next couple of weeks? Other drivers for making poor traffic decisions? Harvey??

Shifting blame around is pointless. It doesn’t help anything. It definitely doesn’t help my traffic situation. There are several things that need to occur for my mulligan trip home this afternoon.

  1. Surrender the moment. When I come into a situation with expectations, I set myself up for inner conflict. God is sovereign and in control. He has different plans than me for my day. He knows exactly how the day is going to go and His will trumps mine – and that’s a good thing! When life goes a direction I don’t expect (good or bad), I need to surrender it to God and see what He has in store for the time. Let. Go.
  2. Trust God. You want to know crazy? Here it is: my mind and heart were desperate to get home so I could see my dog. I am an obsessive parent. It’s true. I have no idea what I will be like as a mother to a child (if I ever experience that). I mean, I’m going to need to continue seeing my counselor and probably more frequently once I have children.Stuck in traffic, I was so sad that my time with Tucker was being taken by such a miserable alternative. Plus, I needed to feed her dinner, take her on a walk, and just play around. However, what have I learned before? She is best in God’s hands. He can do more for her than I can. So, this time around, I must trust God and know that He has everything taken care of.
  3. Redeem the time. I am a strong believer in spiritual warfare and I do not doubt that Satan wants to get the most evil out of Harvey as he can. And, you know what, I think he’s disappointed. The city, state, and nation have come together to help each other out. There is unity and light in the darkness.Now, he’s coming at us via intense traffic and loss. Well, not today, Satan! The time will be redeemed! My friend and I are resolved that we will stand firm against attack. Two and a half hours of traffic hell can turn into a two and a half hour praise session with God. It can be prayer. It can be working through our character defects as they arise. Instead of defeat, we will get stronger in Christ. We will draw near to God. Our mission is not to be “on time”, but to glorify God at all times.
  4. Don’t play the victim. Once I arrive home (whenever that may be), my goal is to enjoy the time I’ve been given. Even though my time at home may be condensed, I can enjoy it to the fullest. I’m only hurting myself if I come home and sulk the rest of the night due to my misfortunes.My plan is to look at the next couple of weeks realistically. Are there extra things I’m doing outside of work that can be postponed for a bit? How am I planning on taking care of myself in the midst of high stress circumstances? Where is God directing me in all of this?

All of the above is what I have learned so far. I plan on stumbling imperfectly into these lessons and seeing what beneficial habits come from this experience.




Anger: A Coping Mechanism for Something Deeper

I know most of you don’t know me or the looks of me, but believe me when I say the idea of me being angry is hard to accept. Most of the time, I am very chill, joyful, and easy going. However, there are the days… the last straw days… where everything is terrible. And the world and all its incompetencies have aimed their ridiculous arrows at my innocent, productive life.

A last straw day can include any of the following (and more):

Family members disappointing you and they have done it for the very last time, terrible drivers that make you late to work… for the very last time, coworkers that can’t seem to get a clue… and today is the last day you’re going to put up with it. The handle to your purse gets caught in the doorknob and jerks you backwards… the doorknob is toast. It’s the Day of Last Straws.

The Day of Last Straws doesn’t begin like this. It starts with an off feeling. I know I don’t feel right but I can’t put my finger on why. Then something will happen to spark the impending blaze.

For me, it can look like this:

In the morning, I’ll walk into the kitchen, and behold, piles of other people’s dirty dishes from last night! I’ll open the dishwasher to put a glass in there. Behold! An empty dishwasher that all those dishes could be in!

Now, on a normal day, I don’t mind either putting the dirty dishes in the dishwasher or just leaving them for whoever it is to take care of… but on last straw days? No, no, no. On those days, leaving dishes out when there’s an empty dishwasher is a murderous crime to my being and it was done with malicious intent and planning. Sparks of righteous indignation clash together from my toes and ignite into a rage that surges to my face.

After the fire is lit, it doesn’t matter what happens next… it’s annoying and an outrage. Someone could walk wrong, breathe wrong, eat wrong, say something – anything, and I’m beyond irritated.

Usually, I’m able to get out of the house without saying anything stupid while I’m in this emotion. But the car… oh, the car. The moment I pull into traffic, I’m in a sea of incompetency that could refill the Mediterranean if need be. The feelings of rage are at peak, the dialogue in my head is running about all the injustices being done to me today, and then – I open my mouth. Expletives, accusations, and slander fly out of my mouth into a thick cloud of anger, all inside the compact box that is my car. Then, I’ll feel horrible and put on some Christian music to try and turn this weird surge of anger around. I’ll be singing along and then shout an obscenity at someone going 20 miles under the speed limit (why do they do this?). This is some serious James 3 stuff right here.

By the time I pull into work, I feel horrible and basically, the cure is going to bed that night and waking up to a new day.

I’ve been experiencing more of these bouts of anger the past couple of months than I can remember ever before. Usually what this means is that God wants me to face something and work through it. When we move into our pain and seek healing, God is gracious and walks with us in the midst. I’ve found that when I am willing to step into the hurt to discover the depths of what’s there, the ongoing misery I’ve been feeling (for most of my life) releases. Living life without those pieces of misery is phenomenal. It’s so worth taking a look into the stuff we want to run and hide from.

So, if you have a Last Straw Day, here are a few tips I received from my counselor on how to work through the misery in the moment.

First, when you feel angry and the dialogue has started in your head, pause.

Anger comes from shame. There is something about yourself that you don’t like, and your ego is blocking you from the shame by placing it on others. The reason your ego does this is because it’s crucial to your survival for you to like yourself. If you didn’t, what’s motivating you to live? We take what we dislike about ourselves and we throw it away from us. It’s time to take it back and own it.

After you pause, ask yourself, what is it that I don’t like about myself right now? If you can’t think of anything, ask God to show you in His divine, perfect will. This is a small, but important step towards overcoming rage.

Godspeed and know I’ll be doing the same!