Years ago, when my mother was in the exact stage of life that I am in now, she did a stupid thing. That does not sound very nice of me to say, but just listen to what she did. She stuck her hand into the garbage disposal while it was running.
That day when she picked up my junior high carpool, she was not herself. Her hand which had been stitched together by emergency room doctor was carefully wrapped and she didn’t smile the entire ride home.
I sensed that my mom was distressed and I was, of course, concerned for her.
I worried that she was in pain.
I also worried about the damage done to her hand. She was an amazing pianist. I loved listening to her play. She was also an artist. Those hands were talented and the damage to them must have been a blow. But there was something more.
At my stage of life today I think I finally understand the deeper reason for her distress. She was worried that she was losing her mind. I mean who puts their hand into the garbage disposal? That seems like a pretty easy thing to avoid. But she was in such a hurry that day and had so many things on her to do list. She was rushing to get the kitchen clean so she could move on to other important tasks.
At the time my mom had children in three different schools and a toddler at home. She took care of all of our needs and as I look back now, she did an amazing job of it. She cooked mostly healthy meals and kept our house mostly clean. She took us to all of our lessons and encouraged each of us to get our chores, homework and practicing done. She took good care of my father, who was also very busy and worked many hours of overtime. In addition, my mom donated time each week to church service. She was divided in so many ways, as only mothers who have experienced this stage of life can really understand.
A few days later mom was bemoaning the garbage disposal incident to our next door neighbor Lea who had a gift for listening. Lea’s husband Dale became very interested in what my mom was saying. Dale’s job was to investigate military aircraft accidents for the government. When an F16 crashed, he was called out to determine what went wrong.
After listening to my mother, he said something along the lines of “What you are describing is the primary reason for most non-combat military aircraft accidents. It’s called task saturation. It is stress-based paralysis from having many concurrent demands. It happens when a pilot becomes overwhelmed by knobs, gauges, dials, blinking lights and, of course, and what’s going on outside the aircraft. At the speed an F16 is traveling, an overwhelmed pilot is only seconds from crashing that aircraft into the ground.”
Apparently my mother was in good company with quite a few dead F16 pilots. But lucky for her, the consequences were not permanent. Her hand healed up nicely. And while that stage of life continued to be very challenging, and she probably made a number of other mistakes, the most important things worked out for the best. Her children are mostly healthy, mostly happy and without a doubt trying their best to be good people.
As I consider the reason for my mom’s ultimate success, I give credit to the fact that she was never alone in the cockpit. She had chosen over and over to give her life to Christ. While things were not always kum ba yah in her life, there was protection, direction and divine assistance in her life.
I find great comfort in this because I am often overwhelmed by the challenges of the life I have chosen. And I sometimes find myself doing stupid things, and like my mom, questioning my own sanity.
Just last Friday I got my very fist ticket. Just after I dropped my oldest off at cross country practice, I saw the flashing lights. The officer approached the open window and said, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” to which I responded, “I have no idea. I was just on my way to return some overdue library books.” He looked unamused. “You’re registration expired back in January – SIX MONTHS AGO.”
I could have sworn that I remembered renewing my registration. Or was that last year…..
I desperately wanted to defend myself. I have eight children who bathe on a regular basis and are really polite. Who get excellent grades and already have their sights set on college.Who play the piano and also in the youth orchestra. Shouldn’t what I’m doing right outweigh what I am doing wrong in a court of law?
It is times like this when I fear I’m losing my mind that I need to remember why I chose this life. It was because I love the Lord and want to give my life to him. Because of this, I can be assured that I will not be left alone in the cockpit.
While I may have to pay a ticket or an emergency room bill every now and then, and even struggle with challenges that seem insurmountable, I can trust that the most important things will turn out for the best.
I can know with surety that he will not leave me alone.
You are not alone. You are not alone. You are not alone. Yu are not alone.