I didn’t want to say a bad word! I’m just not in the mood. And you know I’m not afraid to drop a dirty word when I need to, but I like to reserve those little gems for when they really count. And hey, poo poo IS dirty so…
But hey, while we’re on the subject of the title of this blog… let’s talk about the imagery of this common phrase: When the [poo poo] hits the fan. I mean, just give that a second to come into your brain… let the full picture of that scene unfolding- the poop… hitting the fan… and what would happen next- really come into focus.
Why am I jumping in the deep end so quickly on this blog? Because sometimes you have days where the poop literally hits the fan, and sometimes you have days where the poop figuratively hits the fan. Admittedly, the former is not nearly as common as the latter, but hey… sh*t happens, right?
About two and a half years ago, my family and I were on a road trip to the Pacific North West (as opposed to the Atlantic North West? Why do they call it that?), and we found ourselves camped out at the very tippy top of this great country in a place called Port Townsend. We were all set up at a pretty underwhelming campsite and my then three year old, Merit, and I had just enjoyed a lengthy shower- always a welcomed experience on a long road trip.
It was midday and Gage- then about one- was sleeping in the camper, while Cadence played and Tom dumped the septic tank from our travel trailer. Merit had reported, upon returning to the camper from the… bathroom… that he needed to go poop. I asked Thomas, noticing that he had a hose piped into the septic tank from the outside because he was washing out the tank, if it would be okay for us to go use the toilet.
He. said. yes.
Merit and I snuck into the camper, creeping by a sleeping Gage, and tucked ourselves quietly into the teeny tiny camper bathroom. Merit positioned himself on the toilet and went about his business, while I sat on the bathtub facing him and essentially straddling the toilet and my son with my knees. There is NOT a lot of space in this bathroom as you might imagine. Once Merit finished up his dirty work, I proceeded to help him wipe his butt because that is what I have spent the last 7 years of my life doing- wiping kid’s butts- and then Merit hopped off the toilet and spun around so that I could pull up his pants and he could flush the toilet. He loved flushing the camper toilet because it was a foot pedal instead of a hand lever.
“It won’t flush!” He reported, as he stomped on the foot pedal. I hardly acknowledged him as I was busy with buttoning his pants by feel. When he continued stomping without success, I became aware JUST in time to have what I would describe as a massive download of information in an instant…
Tom’s outside with a hose filling the septic tank with water and pressure and NOOOOOOOOOO…..
(And to think, I struggled with physics in high school…)
Everything moved in slow motion, but as you’ve likely figured out, there was a massive- not a small, a massive- explosion of, well, SHIT! Not just Merit’s most recent poop contribution, but weeks of shit. And when I say explosion, I don’t mean to say that it over flowed onto the floor… I mean to say that poop came forth from that toilet like lava from a volcano. And I’ll go ahead and say it, I’m not ashamed because it was a natural instinct and I’m quite certain that anyone would have done the same thing in my situation but… I did, in fact, use my three year old as a human shield.
My husband says that survival is all about knowing what you have and how to use it.
Y’all, the poop came out of that toilet so aggressively that it LITERALLY hit the fan in that tiny bathroom. It literally did.
That is what it looks like when you have a day where the poop hits the fan. I hear this phrase thrown around a lot, and it brings up a little PTSD for me, I’m not going to lie, and so I just wanted to really paint that picture for you, because I want to segway into something really quickly…
Yesterday was a day where the poop figuratively hit the fan. You know the kind of day I’m talking about. We woke up to a broken fridge which meant not only is everything thawed or thawing, but water from all the thawing is flooding the kitchen floor. So yes, there is the arduous task of moving freezer things to our spare freezer and fridge things to coolers and the camper and it means stress. Of course this also means that whatever we thought we were doing that day- we were not doing anymore. Tom’s going to Nashville to get whatever magic part we need to fix the fridge.
We get in the Mercedes and the check engine light comes on. I mean, if you’re anything like me… you’re feeling dollar signs being seared into the tissue of your heart with a hot iron.
So after a ‘quick’ jot up to Nashville and back (about three hours), Tom’s home, the fridge gets fixed, the food is salvaged and THEN we hear back from the refrigerator repair man. Don’t worry, no one cussed.
Gage has a soccer game, we load up the whole family and drive the 20 mins to the game only to realize Cadence ALSO has a game. Of course she’s not in uniform or in anyway ready to play, so Tom leaves with the big kids to get the uniform, and gets back just in time to miss Gage’s entire game. We eat Little Caesar’s hot and ready pizza because now our entire night is out the window and so we might as well deliberately make bad choices. And as I head out to go teach my REFIT class, while sending Tom and the boys over to Cay’s field for her game, she realizes she didn’t grab her cleats when they rushed home.
The only requirement to play is cleats.
Up until that point, the poop had definitely exploded, but it hadn’t hit the fan necessarily. Have you ever seen someone throw the poop at the fan? Like, they just lose it? Granted I was on the phone when it happened, but I definitely heard my husband find the very end of his patience for the day. And I can’t say I blamed him.
That’s what it looks like when things figuratively hit the fan.
So tonight our small group was listening to and discussing James chapter one from the good old Bible and it says:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2-3)
This is one of my favorite verses, but I’ll be honest, it’s not my favorite verse to read on a day like yesterday. And I totally get that these trials I described are mild compared to the myriad of other trials I could be walking through right now, and many of you are walking through right now, so please don’t hear that I’m trying to make anything trivial.
What we discussed tonight and what I want y’all to ponder, whether the poop is literally or figuratively hitting the fan in your life, is what would it look like to swap out your perspective on days like yesterday- when nothing seems to be going right- to a position of gratitude? What would it feel like if we recognized in these moments/days/weeks of trials that God is literally doing us a favor by strengthening our faith through it all? We know that God promises to work all things for our good (Rom. 8:28: one of my least favorite verses as it seems so patronizing when people like me use it in context like this), and so even when the poop is hitting (or being thrown at) the fan we can feel confident and even… joyful?… in knowing that this is a character building opportunity.
Y’all… I got off the phone with my husband when he was just at the end of his rope. These days are always extra hard on him because I’ve gotten in the practice of laughing at our problems, while he actually carries the burden of them, and so I know that days like yesterday really take him down to the studs (which is to say, they demolish him… you get where I’m going?). And what I didn’t share with you is that my husband suffers from some pretty severe seasonal allergies and yesterday was one of the worst days he’s had in that department in years. It looks unbearable to me, watching him go through the blood shot, watering eyes, the constant sneezing and the tickling throat and nose. I can tell that he basically wants to stab himself in the face- like that’s what it actually seems like he wants to do. I fully understood why he was headed home, why he was yelling, why he was upset, why he was ready to just call it a day and hurry up and get into bed before something else came loose.
But do you know what he did after we got off the phone? He drove to the sporting goods store, and he bought Cay new cleats (Hey! They were on sale because who buys new cleats with just two games left??), and he took her back to that soccer field to play. You see, God’s not concerned with making us happy, He’s concerned with making us holy (I stole that from the bible study). God’s working on us. And although He’s promised to bless us, blessings don’t always take shape in the ways we expect and hindsight is always 20/20, is it not? Have you ever found yourself 10 years removed from what was the biggest hurt of your life… while now, you can plainly see it was the biggest blessing?
That’s God for you.
So I don’t know what you need to take away from this message, but what I’m packing up and taking to bed with me right now is this: God is not concerned, merely, with our mortal life… He’s concerned with our eternal life. And although we’re always going to have those days where nothing is going right… I wonder if we can find a way to anchor into the perspective of gratitude… that a God so big, would go through so much trouble to remind us that who we are becoming matters to Him.
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