Earlier this week, things did not work out. Monday hit with a vengeance. Outside, the snow had started falling, and I was not impressed. Snow in Iowa is different. As soon as it hits the ground, it becomes ice. I've driven in snow my entire life, but when it snows here I lock myself indoors. The feeling of tires refusing to stop elicits a raw terror inside me which I'd rather avoid.
Unfortunately I had to drive everywhere Monday. I had to return my dear friend to the airport, 30 minutes away (that's like going to China, in this little city I call home). I had to drop Spencer off for a play date with his bestest friend "Vangelina." I had to drive Grant to preschool. I had to drop Justin at work since he'd missed the bus to watch the kids while I delivered Trisha. Then, I had to take the girls to a homeschool class across town. I had to do all of this by 9:30 am.
The airport drop went well on my side, although I later learned the pilot slipped and fell, stranding my friend at the airport for hours. She ended up missing work that evening. Spencer went to Lena's. I forgot his diapers and wipes and found only an undersized emergency diaper in the car. Who knows what they did for wipes? Because I know Spencer's "schedule" would have required a change! Grant got to preschool without his "snowbag" - which I'd asked him twice to put in the car - and was doomed to a very cold outdoor recess. Justin went to work. And I went off to homeschool... where I, and no once else, got stuck on the hill going up the parking lot.
Oh the pain!
After several frustrated tries, where I yelled how much I hated Iowa and wanted to move (I like Iowa when it's warm - I'm a fair weather friend) I backed my way down the hill, parked in a random parking lot, and dragged my baby and two children up a snowy hill in the hail. What fun!! What excitement!!
In an abnormal fit of apology, the weather in Iowa looked up from that point. With the temperatures rising to 45 by the afternoon, any further driving I did was in a happy slush that caused me no problems. After dropping the girls, I hiked myself back down the hill, picked up my car, and went to a nearby bagel shop with my one smiley child in tow. There I was helped by very nice bagel ladies and spent some time pretending I was a writer hanging out at the local hot chocolate shop.
Upon my arrival at the bagel shop - and before I cheered myself up, I felt irritated and bothered by my entire morning. It was then I decided to begin the list. How many times have we been told to list the things we're thankful for when we feel like smacking someone instead? I started in:
I'm thankful there was no one behind me when I slid backward down the hill. Luckily everyone else was stuck behind a train crossing while I failed at topping the hill.
I'm thankful Spencer was at Lena's and I didn't have to carry two boys up the slippery snow to drop the girls off.
And eventually... after several small items like my boots and Sterling's hat making the list...
I'm thankful I got stuck, because if I'd barely made it to the top I would have been too scared to leave and I wouldn't have enjoyed my quiet time at the bagel shop with hot chocolate and only one child. Instead I would have had to contain a noisy one year old in a school hallway with no breakfast. Boo!
It was at this point I realized - again! - that often the thing we want so very much, at the moment, is not what will help us get to our final goal. I had been looking forward to that almost-alone time all morning. It's a rare type of moment for me. And the only way I got it was by being unable to summit that obnoxious hill.
Gratitude does save us. And it also helps us see the pathways we've followed. Pathways we don't understand, and rarely want. Pathways our Heavenly Parents know will lead us to where we actually want to go. If we don't take the time to send our minds back we miss the point, and we often go on thinking that everything went horribly wrong. In this way, perhaps the purpose of gratitude is in its ability to open our minds to God's viewpoint. To let us see what he was seeing all along.