Saturday, January 26, 2008

ants on my pants

It's been an ants on the pants kind of week.

It was the last week of the school holidays, and I wanted to get ready for the year (weekly plan, budget plan, exercise plan, prayer plan, chores plan, menu plan) and spend some meaningful time with the kids (playing with lego, walking to the park, visiting the library).

But I've been sick most of the week, with one of those viruses that makes you achy, feverish, sore, irritable and exhausted. So I've been doing a lot of lying around and thinking about getting stuff done. I dragged myself through the household chores, completed 2 out of 6 plans, and listlessly built some lego with the kids, but that's about it.

I was going to take the kids to Eltham Park yesterday, an idyllic park with huge old trees, grassy hills perfect for running down, an over-flowing library, and a coffee shop with a view of trains running over an old wooden bridge. It was a glorious morning, with clear blue skies, warm sun, and a cool breeze, just right for a promised trip to the park.

But I felt too ill to walk up hills with 4 energetic children in tow. Instead I sat on the steps to our front porch while the older children played, Andrew (1) pressed against my leg. A brief excursion outside to feel the breeze on my skin, breathe fresh air into my lungs, and watch the neighbour's shrubs trace patterns against the sky.

Until I noticed that Andrew and I were sitting on a trail of ants and they were crawling all over our pants and his beloved yellow blanky.

Modern psychology at this point would tell me to replace negative, catastrophic, glass-half-empty thinking ("I always get sick! We never make it to the park! Something always goes wrong!") with realistic, resilient, glass-half-full thinking ("Sometimes I get sick, but usually I'm well. We can go to the park another day. Yes, I have ants on my pants, but I can move to another step and still enjoy the morning.") Which is helpful as far as it goes, and I did exactly that.

The Bible, on the other hand, would remind me to replace grumbling thoughts with thankful ones (1 Cor. 10:10; 1 Thess. 5:6-18).

So I also thanked God for the sun, for good health, for a giggling baby copying my every move, for the cool breeze, for a week with my children, and even for the ants. For my heavenly Father who "in all things ... works for the good of those who love him", the greater good of making me not necessarily more comfortable, but more like Christ (Rom. 8:28). A Father who counts the hairs on my head, notices the fall of every bird, keeps my body in sickness and health, and guides the path of every tiny ant.

Even ants on the pants can remind us to be thankful.

1 comment:

Jean said...

I'm reporting in with a comment from a friend: she suggested that we not only turn our attention to thanksgiving (which could serve to keep us focussed on ourselves, not always helpful when you're feeling discouraged) but also to praise (I think I've got that right).

Read Psalm 42 - a great guide to focussing our thoughts away from ourselves and onto God, arguing ourself out of a state of doubt into a state of faith. More about this another time.