There are myriad different levels and brands of fatigue. There is the 36 hour labor fatigue, the sitting in Seattle rush hour traffic fatigue (which, it is worth noting, sometimes gets confused with being homicidal, but it isn’t. It is just fatigue), burpee fatigue (which tends to hit just by contemplating doing one) and then —
First week of school fatigue.
Don’t get me wrong — I think this week has been a tremendous success. Cheerful quail, all subjects completed and only a teensy bit of crying (I admit, I did accidentally start one student in the last of a four book series of math books and didn’t notice until I couldn’t answer the 3rd grade math problems correctly either… awkward). But there is a level of fatigue that hits simply by introducing an intense schedule after the leisurely pace of summer and I am feeling it. I was not oblivious to my descent into decrepit, but it wasn’t until I woke up this morning and had opportunity to analyze what felt like a terrifying dream that I realized my fatigue has gone fully round the bend.
The dream itself shouldn’t have been scary (so says reason in the light of morning, the big fat know-it-all). It starts with me buying a watermelon. The cashier insists I can get a 2 dollar melon (it later rings up for $5.99, which manages to hack me off even in my dream) and that is the thing that lures me into being kidnapped by an extremely elderly couple, who are determined to step on me, like physical steppage with their orthotics, repeatedly. Man… this sounds stupid saying it out loud. But there was something about the watermelon and the smashing that caused cold sweats and silent screams (pretty sure I beat up the old couple in my dream…) and in the cold light of day, I am pretty sure I know why. Turns out, I didn’t need Freud for this one.
As I have already waxed poetic about a particular kind of watermelon from Eastern Washington, I will not bore you all to tears by a repeat performance. By Thursday night this week, having almost made it through our first week of school and feeling the exhaustion down to my bones, I had spent the day looking forward to a large watermelon heel that was chilling in the fridge. I was anticipating it the way people anticipate vacations and boob implants — it was to be the making of me (the human heart is an idol factory).
Now, I would like to preface this dark tale with the disclaimer that I am NOT defending my thinking here, nor my behavior. I actually hate dragging this sin to the light, but there is purpose here and it is my hope that my stumbling somehow edifies one of you.
My husband has a methodical way of eating watermelon that butts up against my own. I love cutting huge chunks of ripe melon with my fork, the bigger the bite the better and I hate mealy, mushed up melons. He, in a desire to get every last bit of juice, takes his fork (I am shuddering as I write this) and scrapes along the bottom and sides of the watermelon, creating a pit of juice and a million floppy little pieces of watermelon. He flat out RUINS the watermelon. But, I do actually desire to kill my selfishness and not be a monster, so I have never said anything…
Until this week.
I was an idiot and mentioned in passing that I race to get bites out of the watermelon before this procedure kicks in, and he looked bemused, obviously not seeing anything wrong with his method and finding my particularity amusing (read: asinine). I knew he didn’t understand… but I underestimated that he thought he did, and would be inclined to take action.
So last night, my legs cursing me out with words that I seriously don’t know how they learned (is it possible for your limbs to take out HBO subscriptions without you knowing?), I finally sat down and breathed deeply, thankfully, as the Beloved went to get the watermelon. I noticed he took longer than usual, but thought nothing of it… until he set the heel down and it was completely mutilated!! He had cut the entire thing into little tiny squares, like a grid of melon abuse, and I admit to having utterly failed to hide my horror and disappointment. It was everything I hate about what he does to the bottom of the melon, spread abroad to every inch of that beautiful melon. I made an effort to be a grownup and scoop the tiny bits up with my fork, as he laughed at my response. In the moment, I felt proud of myself for not strangling him.
My dream comes into focus, no?
Had I curbed my irritation and been less selfish in the first place, I never would have made the observation about our different melon eating styles and he would never have felt compelled to “fix” it (which is honestly what he thought he was doing. I am afraid I cannot explain why he thought this). And as much as I am tempted to blame fatigue… I cannot.
We are not exhorted to die to self, to love one another, to obey God and give thanks in all things (even meloncide) only when we cannot find a good excuse not to. Weariness does not let me off the hook — it drives me to the throne of grace, because I have need. It will take a long time before my husband doesn’t heckle me about this, because I did it badly and it made him defensive. The consequences of my selfishness, even in an arguably small thing, will take time to undo (one of these days I will write about my husband’s mental illness, and this will make more sense, but for now, you can take my word for it). So. I am exhorting you today with what I am loudly preaching to myself — burn the bridges to your sin! Leave no roadway unblocked, allow no occasion for excuses and defenses and go falling on the grace of the Lord Jesus, who alone can lift you from the ash heap, who can heal all that you have broken with your sin. Expose it for what it is — don’t say you were tired, or provoked, or that melon murder is wrong. Say you sinned. And repent.