When my sister Cecelia lived at home, she had two posters on her door. One read: “I’m short, and I intend to stay that way.” The other read: “Some days, the dragon wins.”
Thursday was one of those days.
After starting the morning with a rant and resolution to have a better attitude, I tried hard to keep my cool through the normal annoyances of life: Nicholas wetting himself twenty minutes after using the toilet, soiling himself forty minutes after that…a to-do list a mile long…the ordinary squabbles and power struggles and refusals to eat…a phone that wouldn’t quit ringing…Alex tugging on my arm while I was on the phone, trying to tattle on his siblings. Christian called, and suddenly we were snapping at each other.
Even so, I held it together. Barely.
In the evening, Alex and Christian went to baseball, leaving me to bathe and get the little ones in bed. I got most of the dishes done before muscling them up two floors for baths. For a change, Julianna didn’t seem to be tormenting Nicholas in the tub, so while they played I ran downstairs to finish the last few dishes and check something on the computer. I headed back up, and as I rounded the top of the stairs, the first thing I saw was Nicholas turning a water drum—full—upside down on the bathroom floor. “Nnnnnnooooooo!!!!!” I shrieked, running for the bathroom…where my foot splashed in half an inch of water. And I realized how little was left in the bathtub.
There are times in your life when you get so angry that you don’t even know where to begin reacting. No curse word is strong enough. No punishment severe enough. And he’s two, so he wouldn’t get it anyway. All I could do was get him out of the tub, set him on the sink, and make him watch while I cleaned. Two bath towels, one beach towel—all dripping. Mop and bucket. The thought of how much everyone would laugh at this story just made the choking rage even worse. Look for the positive, I told myself through gritted teeth as I pulled everything off the floor of the closet and set it in the sink to dry. The floor needed mopping, and now it’s mopped.
All I can say is: Some days, the dragon wins.
Fast-forward to Friday morning. A phone call from a friend to update us on her child’s health. Two major surgeries…life-changing surgeries. Sufferings I can’t begin to imagine. Hospital bills that would make us hyperventilate. An evening spent at the Relay For Life. A survivor’s story—a younger survivor, with children still at home who must confront the specter of losing their mother on a daily basis. A little girl in a sundress, walking the track with a shiny bald head.
Sometimes you can’t shake your dragons by yourself. Sometimes it takes seeing other people’s dragons.
I firmly believe that no cross is insignificant. There will always be greater and lesser sufferings than mine, and that doesn’t invalidate them. But there are times when I get so mired in the quicksand of my own negativity that I can’t get out of it on my own. Thank God, He’s always willing to smack me upside the head with a sense of perspective.