I've been discombobulated. Yesterday at dinner one of the boys asked me why I had just sighed, and I said, "I just realized that there is not a single room downstairs that's not in disarray." (Elwood pointed out that nothing had changed in the bathroom, but somehow this felt like cold comfort.") We're getting there, pushing back against the combined chaos of renovations and post-Christmas re-entry, but OH I would love to be able to put everything to rights. I can't, and I won't be able to for a bit longer.
I thought to myself, "Where is your peace? Is Jesus himself your peace? Because if so, you could be content in a war zone. And here you are, off kilter because there are crates of books in the dining room."
(Pretend Misery Poker has never been an especially effective way for me to kick myself in the pants, but somehow I persist.) (Also, books in the dining room = the tippity-topmost-tip of the iceberg.)
It's not just the house, though. I'm pushing back bigtime interview stress. Thoughts sneak up on me along the lines of "If I don't get a job offer, I will never get over the shame." No pressure, self! I keep waving it away. I keep praying for peace (and an infusion of superduper interview skillz). But it wasn't until this morning at Mass, right before we went up for communion, that I had a flash of insight: if I don't get this job, it is because God has something better for me.
Seconds after I thought it, I could imagine the counterarguments: atheist voices saying, "Yeah, that's what a subpar candidate invested in magical thinking would say." But for a shining moment I knew that it was true and I received communion gratefully, willing to accept whatever came my way. Moments later, in between lines of the Anima Christi, I was back to my involuntary mental Stump The Candidate game, in which I try to think of terrible interview questions I might be asked on Wednesday. Still, I am glad for that moment of clarity.
I have always had a tendency to blame myself when things didn't go my way -- to a ridiculous degree, actually. I remember after the third-grade field day telling my dad, a little tearily, that it was my fault that my team had lost the tug of war. If I had tried harder, we could have won. You guys, I was the smallest person in my class. In the spring of third grade I was still seven years old. And I was a scrawny little 7-year-old at that! I was so ashamed at age 14, when I couldn't keep up with the others on a Girl Scout backpacking trip in Wyoming. The reason I couldn't keep up with them was that I had an undiagnosed cardiac arrhythmia that is reliably triggered by exertion at high altitude (I had never been above 3000 feet before), and yet I was certain the problem was that I hadn't worked hard enough to get in shape beforehand.
So this is my resolve for the week: to keep chipping away at the tasks before me, at home and at work and in preparation for the interview, and to be kind to myself in the process. Preparation only takes you so far, I'm telling myself. Sometimes you have to breathe deep, and try to trust, and wait to see what happens.