Lord, I look upward to you, you who live in heaven. Psalm 123:1, NCV
I have often been complimented on my “authenticity” or “transparency.” I have a confession to make: I don‘t know how to be anything else. It’s almost impossible for me to keep my personal business private. While I’m pretty discreet with regard to other people’s affairs, I can be downright indelicate about sharing my own. If the news is wonderful, I celebrate in front of everyone, and when something rotten occurs, I complain just as publicly. I am Chicken Little: when I think the sky is falling, you can be sure I will run around telling everyone about it!
One week I had plenty of news to share, both good and bad. As I encountered the same people each day, the gracious friends who heard me sing praises on Monday were the very ones who also endured my griping on Wednesday. The cause of all my grumbling? Money worries, what else? Trips to the gas station or grocery store were a constant slap in the face. Rising summer temperatures came with mounting electric bills. Every time one of the kids went outside I could almost see the dollar signs floating out behind them. (“Close the door!” could easily be the title of our family theme song.)
Though the squeeze on our wallet kept getting tighter, I didn’t snap, at least not immediately. That is, until the week in question when I took the girls to the eye doctor and everybody to the dentist. As I looked over bills for exams, procedures, contacts, fillings and crowns, I felt the sky falling. (Crowns for a six-year-old? Are you kidding me?) To quote my husband, “I felt like a giant bird—everywhere I looked I saw in front of me an enormous bill!”
Since I don’t like the sound of whining (even my own), at first I tried the old “attitude of gratitude” approach. After all, perspective is a wondrous thing. I gave thanks that the only real money we spent on our children’s healthcare was at the dentist as opposed to say, the oncologist. Unfortunately, the “count your blessings” strategy didn’t stop me from panicking. I grew increasingly anxious and irritable, and true to form I made sure everyone knew it. I felt a little sorry for the unfortunate women who picked that day to ask me how I was. My answers were predictably and painfully honest.
Eventually I told so many people how awful everything was that even I got tired of hearing it. That’s when I had one of those “coming to Jesus” meetings, and on this occasion God condescended to meet me in . . . well . . . a bathroom stall. Not exactly what you would call holy ground. To be fair, it was the church restroom during Vacation Bible School, sounds of praise music drifting in from the sanctuary. But still—Jesus in the potty? Can a girl have no privacy?
He didn‘t waste any time. “Pam, here’s the thing. You’ve been hit by something that scares you, and you are running around trying to fix it.” (He was right. It would take a LOT of coupon-clipping to recover from bills this size.) “Meanwhile, you’ve spent so much time listening to your own words that apparently you’ve forgotten some of mine, like, ‘Don’t worry about anything.’ And ‘You can trust me to take care of you.’”
See, this was Chicken Little’s problem, too. He assumed the worst at the first sign of trouble, and then ran around frantically trying to figure out what to do about it. However, if only he would have looked up, he could have saved everyone a lot of fear and panic.
In the midst of our “Chicken Little” moments, if we will look up to God, he will provide all the answers: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace” (Phil. 4:6-7, NLT).
The next time life hits me in the head and I just have to tell someone, I’ll know where to start. Whether I’m shouting for joy or hollering in fear, I’ll be sure I share it first with God. And we’ll go from there.