Throw Your Hands Up
You know those bad days when nothing seems to go right? The ones where it seems a string of unfortunate circumstances keep occurring and at first, you freak out a little, but then you get yourself together and naively try to do everything in your power to control the damage. Alas, you find yourself in that inevitable moment: paused, glazed over and resigned as you watch the havoc unfold around you. Finally, the realization sets in that you can't do a thing about it. The worst of it? I keep blaming myself for the aftermath. Because I'm such a control freak, I keep thinking, if only I had been more prepared. If only I tried harder. If only I had been wiser about it. If only I had more control over the situation.
These past few days have been just that: a string of "if onlys" and a trail of self blame. But what else can you expect when you're running on empty? I had one whole day off in the month of August. One day. I don't even remember what I did that one day. Probably Netflix binging and laundry and catching up on everything I didn't get to because of work and meetings and over scheduling myself. It wasn't even a day of true rest, I'm pretty sure. I desperately needed rest and it's funny how it starts to reveal itself in my relationships, my day to day work, and in my thoughts and my mood.
The sweltering summer heat wasn't good for my mood either. It wasn't letting up going into September and the humidity had been almost unbearable. Read: not macaron weather. But of course, I had an order for 150 macarons for a wedding, and what a nightmare it had been. I thought I was a seasoned macaroner by now, but when tray after tray of the finicky things came out bumpy, cracked and flat, I was deflated. There was nothing to do but continue to move forward. Fans a blazing at every angle, I tried drying the meringues as much as I could before baking, to no avail. Humidity won and hope was lost. I made my buttercreams, I filled the cookies, and I packed them for delivery. Nothing could be done anymore; it was time to go.
I was delivering the ugliest macarons I had ever made to someone's wedding, and my heart was sinking from the perfectionist's ever present feeling of disappointment and failure. Oh great, I just ruined one of the most important days of a couple's life with ugly macarons. Ugh, lies are so easy to believe, aren't they? Maybe if I arranged them really well on a pretty platter, no one will notice. My heart sank even further as I squeezed my delinquent macarons next to the perfectly placed pies and gorgeous baked goods the other vendors dropped off earlier. Relieved to get them off my hands and excited at the prospect of getting some sleep since I had been baking macarons all night, I was finally starting to cheer up.
Leaving was not going to be that easy, I found out, as I made my way down from the reception site at the top of the grassy hill. The gate I had come through was now locked to prevent wedding guests fom parking at the reception. So, I did what anyone else would have done and drove to where I thought I saw a gap in the fence. Unfortunately, it had been raining and I miscalculated the depth of the water that had accumulated at the bottom of this grassy hill. Next thing I knew, my front tires were being swallowed up by the swamp thing.
Fortunately, a few park rangers(?) were nearby to witness my unfortunate misstep, and they radioed the DNR tow truck to come to my rescue. As I stood there, waiting in my wet and muddy Esperadilles, looking at my little red car- now mud splattered, halfway sunken in the swampy land, windshield cracked all the way across, a passenger window missing from a recent break-in, a headlight just barely hanging on (but working!)- I found myself in that inevitable moment I described earlier. It was resignation. My car became a physical manifestation of everything I was feeling at that moment. Exhausted from barely any sleep and emotionally depleted, I was about to give up right then and there. I was ready to throw my hands up in the air, ready for my knees to give in and my body to collapse in the mud and drown in my own tears of self pity.
Dramatic, I know. Good thing this only happens in my mind, and I don't carry out most of the things I want to do. And there are also the three park rangers I had to keep myself together for. As my attention went back to them, I thought about what they had done for me. One of the guys took his shirt off and crawled on the wet grass to hook my car to the line, and as he came back up, the whole front of his wifebeater was soaked. They worked as a team and they got me out quickly, unbegrudgingly, cheerily, even. And they did it without making me feel bad about doing such a dumb thing as driving my car into the mud. My heart went from sinking to swelling up with gratitude. I thanked them profusely and apologized for the wet shirt. I was humbled.
On the way home, I kept hearing this song on repeat in my head: "Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord; and He will lift you up." That's the thing about being down: you can, and you will be lifted up. I came home to giant buttercream bombs in my kitchen. There were broken and rejected macarons everywhere and my feet kept sticking to the sugary wood floor. My double kitchen sink was overflowing to the max. It wouldn't be cleaned up anytime soon, that's for sure.
Yes, my exhausted mind, body, and soul were quite disheartened by the sight of it all, but in the midst of this messy life of mine, I was still able to see the beauty. It's because I don't ever want give up. It's because I forever have hope. If I'm throwing my hands in the air, it's not going to be from resignation. It's because I've been rescued from the mud. It's because I'm dancing and praising God for the hope He's given me.