In December, I was at the drugstore where Colgate Spin Brushes were buy one get one free. Having recently spent a small fortune on dentist visits, I put four in my shopping cart, festively wrapped them when I got home and then gave them to my kids as St. Nicholas day presents. Am I a fun mom or what? These gifts of good hygiene were surprisingly well received but have, unfortunately, become a nuisance. See the base of these brushes, which require batteries, are much too large to store in our regular toothbrush holder. I’ve tried forcing them to fit. I’ve tried precariously balancing them into a Spin Brush, Jenga-like, tower. I’ve tried keeping them in my bathroom drawer, but all to no avail. Much to my annoyance, these brushes have littered and crowded our bathroom counter top on a daily basis.
Fast forward to January when were visiting Troy’s family, including his sister, Michelle, who also has four children - four children with…get this…four Colgate Spin Brushes! Michelle’s bathroom counter top was tidy, however. What in the world was her secret? Within half a second I discovered, oh, she keeps those brushes in a wide-mouthed glass container. Michelle had thought outside the traditional toothbrush holder box while I’d been beating my head against the wall of auto-pilotedness. How many other little headaches have I’ve been burdening myself with unnecessarily by failing to pause and think before acting? Is there a better way to do this? Is a question I should be asking myself a lot more often.
And it’s more than just logistical conundrums that leave me frustrated. I get stuck in mental and emotional ruts as well - especially when I allow, out of busyness, too much time to lapse between moments of prayer, appointments with my priest for confession, the attendance of Church services or the receiving of the Holy Eucharist. What is my deal? I’ll be guiltily wondering, while up half the night worried sick about any number of terrifying scenarios, or when my patience has run thin and I’m snapping at my family members. Why can’t I get over this anxiety, this resentment, this depression, this lust for material possessions already? It’s like these vices are attacking me; my meager willpower just can’t compete. Despair takes hold when I lose myself in that guilt rather than recognizing these yellow flags as valuable warnings that I’m drifting too far from my Source of peace, contentment and wisdom.
The American psychiatrist, M.Scott Peck said, The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers. Thinking pridefully that I should somehow be above such struggles is ludicrous. And assuming by now I should be immune to the same old tired stumbling blocks is tragically counterproductive in that I waste valuable time becoming steeped in disenchantment, growing callous, when I could be healing, thriving, starting over via repentance.
Fully accepting I cannot, for even a second, rely on myself to do anything self-less, courageous or wise keeps me from staying down when I’ve fallen down. Because, Oh Yeah, of course I’m discontent! I’ve lost my focus, I remember sooner rather than later. I’ve gotten all tripped up from running around aimlessly. Just figuring that much out, my friends, is truly half the battle.
Is there a better way to get through any given day besides fussing and fuming and ruminating over that which I cannot control? The more frequently I ponder this, the quicker I’ll be to respond when confronted by signs of waywardness with, God I need you! Lord, have mercy! Take my every thought captive! Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture, wrote Elder Thaddeus. If our thoughts are peaceful, calm, meek, and kind, then that is what our life is like. If our attention is turned to the circumstances in which we live, we are drawn into a whirlpool of thoughts and can have neither peace nor tranquility.
This salvation thing is a full-time, all consuming endeavor requiring ceaseless intercessions for guidance and forgiveness. And the tools provided by the Church are hardly optional for those of us aching to rise above pettiness and earthly cares. Perhaps I was never meant at all to once and for all defeat anxiety and self-centeredness. Perhaps the truer answer lies simply in humbly turning Christ-ward, minute to minute, exactly as I am and praying “Thy will be done,” trusting He alone can override my doubts and weaknesses and help me mean it.