The answer to your question, “What the hell is wrong with [me]?” is that I’m flawed, human. Thankfully that obvious and inescapable fact no longer plagues me as it once did. It used to be such a burden, trying to appear just so, to wear the masks of got-it-togetherness, brilliance, wit, savvy. I never felt known when I wore those masks. No wonder. But after I began to know Jesus, to spend time in the Bible and recognize love there, I eventually accepted it. Love, that is. When I accepted the love God has for me, the burdens of shame and guilt I had carried around no longer pressed on me. I wasn’t even ashamed that I hit your car. I was bummed, certainly, and sorry, especially given the fact that it was a brand new VW Beetle. There was a time when a shiny (oh so shiny) new VW bug would have made me a raving lunatic too. And I’ll even confess, there was a time when I would have feigned injury for some free chiropractor appointments and a big, fat settlement check. But those are what the hell WAS wrong with me, and you asked what the hell is wrong with me now. Ok, though God and I are like this: picture my crossed fingers– I still mess up sometimes. Like right after I bumped you I said an unlovely word in the presence of my two boys. And I smacked my dog. Once. Some people are 65% water; I’m 65% sarcasm. I could go on… But I try to love like God loves, to admit when I’m wrong, and live at peace with all men. Which is why, after bumping you ever-so-slightly, I got out of my car to apologize and exchange insurance information. I’d have gotten more than “ssssss–” out of my mouth if you hadn’t cut me off with your “question.” My heart hurts when I think of it. But I’m asking God to help me move beyond my own hurt feelings, to yours, since you clearly expect the world is full of people whose intention is to hurt you and/or your beautiful car. Be comforted. The tiny stamp of my license plate bolt will be sanded away, your Monroe-red paint job will be expertly re-touched and shined, and you will not even be able to tell we ever met.
I was in bed reading. I didn’t believe him at first. Mostly because my son is joking 90% of the time, but also because I didn’t want to believe him. Ever since we adopted Abbott we’ve had various casualties. Initially his tastes ran toward media: books, games, magazines, DVD’s, and spiral notebooks (essentially, the homework). He also likes pens and seems to strongly prefer the taste of Bibles. At least he has good taste. Candles, purses, socks, and the usual– shoes, are also on the menu.
Last night was his first foray into something soft and foamy– and expensive. I lay in my bed, too cowardly even to survey the damage (but also because I thought seeing it would make sleep even less of a possibility). To prove he wasn’t crying wolf, my son brought me a very asymmetric piece of yellow foam; he held it out to me like a gift.
Fine. Abbott ate the couch. But I still wasn’t going to go down there until I had a night of sleep. There are two kinds of people when it comes to sleep: some think they need more sleep when they’re overwhelmed, and some think an overwhelming sortie is best faced with less rest and more prep. I am definitely the former. And did I mention I love sleep? I also want to love my handsome new German Shepherd, my protection from would-be rapists and burglars, so I considered it prudent and proactive not to see him while wanting to kill him.
Visions of my once-cozy, book-lined family room as the ground zero of a foam explosion bullied through my troubled mind. I saw in my future a spartan room, all my precious stuff evicted by Abbott and his pile of abandoned dog bones and chew toys. Eventually I fell asleep. But not before my son came to me and asked, “Aren’t you going to say it?”
“What?” I growled (no pun intended).
“You know. That you didn’t like that couch anyway.”
He was fishing for a sign that Abbott wouldn’t be served for lunch tomorrow or be taken to the taxidermist (a threat I often made with our cat).
“No. I’m not going to say it.” I was firm. Abbott had gone too far.
Luke made a petulant little grunt and retreated to his bed. I considered how fragile and transitory my stuff became the instant we brought Abbott home from the pound. Rescuing Abbott put our possessions in danger. But it was always like that with stuff. My winking at the kids’ use of the couch for a trampoline or my pride at their nimbleness in climbing the hallway walls underscores my lukewarm relationship with my stuff. I just got a pop quiz from Abbott, that’s all.
I didn’t really like that couch anyway.