I don’t know what is wrong, but I can see it, feel it, yet I don’t truly ask.
She smiles fake and I ask if work was difficult, ask if she’s tired. Typical questions. Easy questions, yet I stop asking before I hear the real answer; the answer of what’s causing the tension in the air. I reach for her hand, hold it in mine but it feels stiff, like she’s not really there anymore and I worry a little more.
I tell myself again, like I do everyday all day long that my Jesus has broad shoulders. So why, I ask myself, do I always feel it my duty to allow the day’s troubles to weigh heavy on my shoulders, and mine alone?
Like my dad the other day, the way the stress rises so I just walk out the door and do the work because I’m so, so tired of being drug around the fence and back by everyone’s drama and grumpiness. I walk straight into those pig barns, puffing on my Albuterol inhaler so I don’t collapse from the dust and ammonia in the air, but I do the work because I simply can’t take the noise of everyone stressing on me. Within minutes, I’m joined by my dad and we work a while until I start rubbing my eyes and I can feel my throat closing and please, just let me close my eyes here for a minute to catch my breath, but there’s no breath to catch because I simply can’t breath. My dad knows this, too. He remembers the time I was determined to help him and collapsed blue-lipped on the stairs when I finally made my way to the house. He tells me I have to go, now, yells it at me over the screaming of the pigs. “Or you’ll be dead soon,” he finishes.
Ya, but at least the work got done! I want to yell back but I don’t because I’m shaking and sweating yet shivering cold with anger at everyone.
I climb on the ATV and make my way to the house, dreaming of the day I finally snap.
“You think your day is going bad?” I will yell. I’m dreaming now. I’ll yell it loud, too. Over and over. Louder. More whiny each time. And then, at the end, after I’ve exhausted myself with all the bellowing, I will whisper in everyone’s ear, “Like a broken record, friend. I can go on for hours if you still haven’t gotten the point.”
I stop dreaming.
Dear Lord, I pray instead, help me be strong. Because I’m drowning here. Drowning here in this life that isn’t always beautiful unless you’re looking for it and you have to remember every minute, some days every second, to always choose joy in every circumstance.
We’re driving together, my wife and I… and here I finally blurt it.
“I’m tired of everyone’s incompetence affecting my happiness.”
So, your job isn’t pleasant? Welcome. It’s called work for a reason. So your computer won’t connect to the wireless router? Reboot, restart, then come talk to me. You think getting out of bed at seven in the morning gives you rights to be grumpy to customers? Think again, pal. Espresso was invented for a reason.
Looking back, I hope I didn’t say all those things but I think I did and now tonight, when I hold her hand and it feels stiff within mine, a little part of me crumbles because I know it’s me, not her, and a little something is broken between us because she wouldn’t tell me anyway, even if she really did have a bad day.
I can’t think the rest of the evening because this is an epidemic now, this unhappiness sweeping over the midwestern states and now it’s gotten me too.
And the worst part is, I think to myself, nobody knows where to find strength anymore.
I can’t talk to Southern Gal. She won’t talk to me.
So I turn to the One Who cares and I apologize up front for whining and I give Him permission to plug His ears but I doubt He does. And then I start. Oh my, I whine, good and proper. I beller and holler about how simply awful everything is, how everyone is so grumpy around me all the time and how hard it is to be happy but then I realize I must sound awfully grumpy ‘bout now so I start laughing because this life is just so unpredictably wild.
But then He comes quiet to me and whispers a reminder.
“Who else can be your strength, Duane, when you’ve given all yours away and you’re needing some too? I can. When your shoulders are tired of carrying the weight of the world, Who better than Me, the One Who created the world in the first place, to lean on? Let Me be your shoulders. Oh, and one last thing. That girl I blessed you with? She’s got shoulders too and sometimes, it’s okay to tell her you had a bad day.”
I start laughing again because I think I’ve discovered something.
Maybe this is why God created marriage. So someone else, besides Him, could listen to all the whining going on.
(I love you, Southern Gal, now and forever. I’ll whine to you if you promise to whine in return. Oh boy, what have I gotten myself into? And… what about you, friends? Do you ever get tired of people complaining to you?)