Better to dwell in the wilderness, Than with a contentious and angry woman.  Proverbs 21:19

I have a confession:  I am a contentious and angry woman.  I am a selfish and stubborn woman.  I pray my husband overlooks this verse, and I panic when he expresses any interest in camping.

I am also work in progress, however imperfect that may be.

The past couple of days, I have screwed up, but I have also learned and improved.  Ergo, imperfect progress.  I am learning that imperfect progress is okay.  (thanks, Lysa TerKeurst)

Here is what happened:

This weekend’s forecast was essentially perfect – not too chilly, and not too windy.  I wanted to get outside and blow the doldrums away by spending quality time communing with nature as a family.  I had great fantasies about how all of this would play out involving worn down hiking trails, sightings of woodland creatures, picnic lunches consisting of organic and all-natural peanut butter and honey on homemade whole wheat, and nature scavenger hunts, (which seem to be all the rage on Pinterest) just to name a few.

None of those  fantasies included my husband getting called into work to handle some ’emergent’ issue.

That was, in fact, the exact opposite of my plans.

I had been forewarned.  I knew it was a possibility, but it is always a possibility, so I had naïvely brushed it off as unlikely.  Even so, when my husband started getting phone calls while we were out on Friday, I immediately knew my fantastic plans were in jeopardy.

To make it worse, it was for something stupid and unnecessary.  We both knew it.  We both knew it was a knee jerk reaction to keep someone else from looking bad in the eyes of the regulator.

It didn’t matter, though.  Nate’s job is to answer the call and to be there if they ask.

I hate his job at times, especially those times when it interferes with my plans.

I got angry.  I became tight-lipped, and terse.  I plastered a saccharine smile on my face hoping to mask the turmoil fermenting underneath my skin, but the fraudulence only exaggerated it.

Because I happen to be completely transparent (despite my best efforts) Nate knew exactly what was going on.  I explained that I wasn’t mad at him.  I was mad at his job.  I was mad at the ridiculous decision to have people come in on overtime to fix things that weren’t urgent, or even really broken.  I was mad at people who care more about performance indicators than the quality of life of their employees.

My husband apologized anyway, and showered me with increased affection, and for the rest of the outing, he acquiesced to my every whim – even taking a preschooler, who was up WAY past nap time, into a country craft store among thousands of breakables, just so I could have a look-see. (that is sacrifice, folks)

Instead of feeling better, I felt guilty.

I am blessed with a husband who works his tail off to provide for our family, and he does a heck of a job of it.  He worked very hard to get the position he is in, and he still works hard to do it to the best of his ability.  He does that for us.  He works diligently – not just to give us what we want, but also to give us what we desire.  Day in and out, he gives his all for the sake of his family.  He is a man of God, and that is reflected in his work ethic.  That is why we have warm beds and fully bellies and every new and interesting gadget a person could want to alleviate monotony.

And I am having a temper tantrum over one Saturday morning.

I remembered hearing that gratitude and anger cannot dwell in the same place.  In that moment, I chose to be thankful.

in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

I chose to count every single blessing about my husband and his job that I could think of.  At first, it was a task that proved formidable because I was stuck in the undertow of selfish anger and frustration.  I prayed for revelation.  I prayed for focus.  As I continued to meditate on the things I was thankful for, I felt the contentiousness around my heart diffuse.   We were able to enjoy the rest of our evening, without the stain of anger tarnishing it.

However, on Saturday as he got up to leave, I felt anger and bitterness creep in, again.  Empirical evidence suggests that when this happens, no good can come from it.  I stew and I pout.  I grumble.  I wallow in self-pity.  I pick fights and lash out.  It is what I always do.  I knew that if I didn’t get it together, it would fester until it ruined my mood, and ultimately everyone’s day.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.  
Psalm 37:8

I had to forsake my destructive and contentious patterns.  I prayed that God would calm my temper and replace my rage with tenderness and patience.  I prayed that he would cultivate gratitude for Nate and his job in my heart.  I prayed that we could use Nate’s absence  that morning to do something to bring him honor and show him appreciation.

And that is exactly what God did.

Since Nate had to work, we went to work, too.  We managed to clean up the house entirely.  We finished all the stuff we had left undone the day before, in addition to completing a few extra things (like sorting through the girls’ clothes to see what fit and what didn’t, taking stock of the summer items we already have, and seeing what needs to be replaced).  By the time Nate was home (around noon), we were able to have a quick lunch and hit the road.  We went to a nearby park, and enjoyed a hike in the woods.  Then, we came home, played outside, and grilled up a delicious supper.  The day with the potential to be so bad had turned into something sacred and fantastic.

Because of gratitude.

giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Ephesians 5:20