I asked my wife if she was happy yesterday. A dangerous question to ask, I know. Money is tight. The new baby has us up at odd hours pacing, burping, and cooing. The children are outgrowing their bicycles. The car’s front tire has a slow leak. My oldest daughter is complaining of a belly ache (though I think she’s faking.) None of my children will under any circumstance ever remember to say, “Thank you” or “Please.” In other words, our days have enough annoyances to make us bite our nails, raise our voices, and just be grumps in general.
So amid all this I asked my wife if she was happy. She stopped running around the house for a moment. She looked at me and I could see she was tired but she smiled and said, “I’m big picture happy. There are a hundred things I’d change but I’m big picture happy.”
And that’s a lot. I think too often we forget to separate the big issues from the little skirmishes which fill our lives. When we think of the big things like our family, our country, our church we tend to drag out our rote of complaints. We too easily forget what a miracle each of our children are despite their acting like conquering barbarians. We forget that America is a uniquely brave and fragile experiment in freedom despite its faults. And we think of all the problems in the church today like “hootenanny masses” and “bad folk music” rather than focus on the daily miracle of the Eucharist.
We have the luxury of forgetting that life isn’t perfect because we can go through stretches where things are as good as they get in this world. The car starts every morning. The paychecks are regular. So we choose to believe that good days are as regular as sunrises. And when we find ourselves in a hospital waiting room on a random Tuesday afternoon or broken down on the side of the road we are completely unprepared for it. So we look to blame someone. Our families. The government. And finally God. How could God allow this to happen to ME? ME?
Today I’m going to focus on the big things. The car tire is completely flat now. My oldest child is really sick (she wasn’t faking). I held her hair as she made awful sounds into the toilet. I carried her into my bed, put in a video, and pushed the blanket up to her chin. She asked me to lay with her for a moment so I did. She laid her head onto my chest. She didn’t say thank you for any of it. But right now I don’t care. I’m big picture happy.