“The drips and the crickets.”
My brother Jim has long said that those are the sorts of things that finally drive you “over the edge” when you’re already under stress.
Along the same line, we might recall an agricultural metaphor: “Well, that was just the straw that broke it!” The old wagon or cart or trailer or pickup was handling the load of straw pretty well, maybe just showing a little stress as the weight was piled on, and then someone dropped on one more straw. Just one. A little thing. But one straw too many. And that’s when the axle broke and the whole thing crashed down.
Or drip, drip, drip . . .
Or chirp, chirp, chrip . . .
“Stridulating,” by the way. That, I’ve discovered, is what crickets are doing when they make that “chirping” sound.
I almost wrote, “chirp, chirp, chirp.” Yes, with a period at the end. The Brits call a period a “full stop.”
But there’s the point. There’s no “full stop” to it! The maddening sound doesn’t stop; it just goes on and on and . . .
I suppose the aforementioned “crash” is a sort of stop. Just not the sort you want.
The crashes come in different forms and severities.
The kids are playing, really as they pretty much always do, but the noise just seems to get louder and louder, and that’s when you blow up.
Your spouse didn’t mean to say anything to tick you off, but suddenly and seriously ticked off you were, and you felt like your head blew up just before you shot your mouth off, thereby shooting yourself in the foot. Shots fired.
Your aging auto fleet has been needing regular patches and fixes and $100 bills plugged into leaks and rattles for months, but finally one rattle trap needs fifteen C-notes shoved into its transmission. That’s when your fuse blew.
Maybe it’s just a rough stretch for your family. Or rough sailing at work. Or maybe it’s a more than bumpy patch for the whole country and beyond.
Maybe it’s been one of those days, or one of those weeks, or, just maybe, a particularly long stretch like a year—say, 2020—that shall “live in infamy.”
We’ve all had bad days when we found ourselves needing most of the next day to retrace our steps and apologize to the folks we ran into, or across, or over the day before. We’d used harsh words. Skewered someone with sharp tongues.
And our world sees way too many incidents all of the time where tempers flare and fists fly—or a trigger gets pulled. Road rage. Physical abuse. Workplace violence. Relational dysfunction and mayhem.
What happens when a pandemic is added to the mix? And when people who rightly think they have “free speech” wrongly choose to become mobs who loot and vandals who tear down statues (and ought to be in jail)? When dealing with real social problems becomes venting rage rather than seeking solutions? When, in one way or another, whether it’s a “slight” or a mask (or a loud opinion about a mask) or a bump or a word or a smirk or a good law or a stupid law or a text or a tweet or a load of self-righteousness or a wad of “virtue signaling” or any of a million ways to try to exert some control over what we’re having precious little success controlling as our whole world seems out of control, or . . .
Well, it doesn’t take many drips or crickets to lead to a crash. Burn-outs. Burn-ups. Blow-ups.
And people get hurt. They end up wounded and wounding. Bleeding and drawing blood. Hurting and hurtful. Sad and angry.
What to do? You tell me. Right now! Because I’m fed up! Okay. Breathe.
I might suggest a stroll. Some silence. Some deep breaths. Even a little time doing something you love even if you can only find a few minutes each day.
I’d suggest remembering very specifically who you love.
A hug. (Virus be hanged.) A prayer. A walk. A talk with someone who builds you up.
Think about what’s still good. Tell someone thanks. Take a nap. Turn off a screen. Watch a sunrise or sunset. Pet a dog. Or a cat if you’re desperate.
Read what God says about being “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” and ask for his help to be sure you “do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” That means, don’t go to bed mad. But did I mention your spouse? Should I mention or apologize for mentioning that you’ve got a license for stress relief?
Give some grace. Right now might be good. Receive some grace.
God is not short of grace, of power, of peace, of love, of comfort. We need it, and our God promises to give it. Yes, in the midst of drips and crickets, frustrations and fears, and even the occasional pandemic.
You’re invited to visit my website, and I especially hope you’ll check out my new podcast at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com/podcast!
Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.