Day 2: August 28, 2023
In an effort to do 3 happy things for myself each day, at 11:30 a.m. this morning I decided to head to one of my favorite downtown Beaufort cafes for brunch with the girls.
At 11:50 a.m. after finally dressing, wrangling, and buckling them in, the car made a dreadful sound that announced to me clearly that I wasn’t going anywhere fast.
To be clear: Being a woman absolutely has its perks. Men hold doors open for me and lift heavy baby car seat buckets. I’m adept at multitasking and keeping the house in order (when I set my mind to it, that is).
But one tremendous downside to my particular female noggin’ is my disdain for any technological systems. Legos? I can handle. Love building some little worlds with kids. Car issues? Nope. Hate it. Not interested.
Once, while my husband was in the training field for a week, I needed to go pick up his car from the military base where we were stationed and switch it with my car.
Upon arriving at the Honda (what is wrong with this car??) I turned the key in the ignition only to be met with a low battery signal and a momentary burst of A/C. And then it was dead. I opened the hood truly expecting some horrible puff of black smoke or perhaps a raccoon to jump out into my face, but everything seemed oily and fine. Until I noticed the light blue fuzzy substance on the battery.
The color of the buildup was like Sully from Monsters Inc.
In high school, my dad taught me how to change a tire (which has come in handy a couple of times!) Unfortunately for me, I had no earthly idea how to change a car battery. Since Caleb was in the field, I called the only other guy I knew: my dad. He told me to head on over to AutoZone and see what they could do for me!
As the sun slowly set, I hurried over to AutoZone before they closed. The first good news I had gotten this entire experience was not only that they had a battery for me but also the wrench tool I might need to get the crud off and disconnect and reconnect the wires to the terminal things.
Off I went back to base, all alone with my brand-new battery and wrench.
Upon arriving, I called my dad again (who thought this whole situation and the panic it caused me was pretty funny) and asked him to walk me through each and every step I’d need to take to replace the darn thing. He did. I was as ready as I’d ever be.
“Oh, and one more thing,” he laughed, “when you reconnect the battery, it might spark a bit.”
It might Spark.
This was NOT okay with me and NOT what I wanted to hear. My heart began racing. I was going to set the entire military base on fire and all because the stupid car’s dumb battery had decided to die the ONE week Caleb was in the field.
But I wasn’t going to give up. After all, I had to return the wrench to the AutoZone that day, and the helpful mechanic there was counting on me. So I said a Hail Mary and plucked up the courage to remove the old battery. After some twisting and jimmying, I got it free! I lugged the heavy thing out and dropped it on the ground . . . halfway done!
My celebration was short-lived and my heart dropped when I remembered the potential jump scare in the next step. But it had to be done. So I connected the first terminal . . . aaaaaand I couldn’t bring myself to do the next. I panicked, and my dad (and now mom!) cracked up at me. They encouraged me to try again and I decided to just get it done briskly–the anticipation was killing me.
Connected! And no sparks! A grand success except it immediately set off the blaring car alarm in the quiet, stillness of the base parking lot. Before I could get out of there, I had to explain why my car alarm sounded so long to a confused cop . . . it was mostly because the alarm scared the heck outta me and it took me a second to get out of my frightened daze.
But I got that battery changed and that wrench returned, dang it.
I digress, back to the present day:
The mysterious death of our Honda wasn’t the only suffering I would have to endure today.
At approximately 5 p.m. for the first time since I was a child, I stepped in an anthill (and not your friendly neighborhood ants, these were the firey feisty ones). Normally when one steps on a pile of rage-filled bugs, one brushes them off before any damage can be inflicted.
Unfortunately for me and my Chaco-adorned feet, Caleb and I were in the middle of transporting our hefty (and unwieldy) 70-pound table from our backyard music studio to our new home, the (yet-unnamed) Open Range travel trailer. This meant two things:
- I wasn’t aware of the dirt pile I had detonated.
- Once aware, it wasn’t a matter of simply bending over and brushing off the attackers.
First, naturally, I screamed at Caleb, “SET IT DOWN, I-AAaaagH!”
To which he replied, “What? No! Why? Okay!”
For about 30 seconds, I skipped and yelped and hopped and hollered around the fence corner and finally to a straightaway on the path where I could quickly set the darn table down.
I kicked off my shoes as fast as I could, but by then the soldiers had already had time to make an impressive advance. Over a dozen little demonic creatures had bitten my toes (no thanks to my favorite pair of hiking sandals).
And it buuuuurned! I’d forgotten how unpleasant that felt, and promptly remembered why my brain told me to be extremely cautious leading Abigail around the ant pile areas in our yard.
After swatting at my feet and dramatically swishing my skirt, I had won the war–-but not without battle scars. The teeny tiny bugs had left bumps double their size on my feet and ankles. (I would count them, but the number it comes out to in reality would make this traumatic story seem far less so).
Satisfied that the attack was over, Caleb and I lifted the table again—and a thought crossed my mind:
“I should offer this up!”
I triumphantly declared the same to Caleb and asked God to unite whatever suffering I just endured to His on the Cross and to decrease the suffering of some of our dear friends (if it be His will).
Saint Paul institutes this often-overlooked Christian practice in Colossians:
“I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.”Colossians 1:24
This theological concept is explained more thoroughly by Elizabeth Scalia at Catholic Answers:
“To offer one’s aches and pains, one’s disappointments, for the sake of others is always love-in-action; a redemptive act. There is a particularly true and hardy love that springs from an offering made for the intentions of another.”
The last time I intentionally offered my suffering for others was during labor for the souls of loved ones who might be in purgatory. And though this practice doesn’t end the painful afflictions of labor or the (admittedly mild) stinging from ant bites, it does distract the mind from present discomfort and lift the heart to Our Lord on the Cross: our ultimate hope and salvation.
You can offer up the big stuff and the little stuff–the ant piles and the auto mishaps.
And next time I walk outside and see my dead Honda, I’ll be sure to offer that suffering up to God as well.
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