Saturday, October 19, 2013

Justice or Mercy?

This afternoon I was too angry to be angry. Ever had that feeling? Knowing that it is better to say nothing because what you will say will be so awful that it will take forever to make up for it? Yeah, that kind of afternoon. (Let alone that we still do not know Nikolina's surgical status -- all that is still pending. So today was not the best day for bad news.)

Nonetheless, bad news forced itself into my happy little day. And it all happened so innocently. I had taken time off work to be available to help Shane with any family needs before, during, and after Nikolina's surgery and decided to use some of my found time to balance my checking account. I opened the online version, figuring it would only take a few minutes since I was pretty much caught up, having balanced everything last week, which was pay day. And then a thunderstorm overtook my sunny day. To my horror, I saw that a $1500 payment to the IRS that I had put into my list of checks-by-mail account as a temporary place holder had not been removed when I sent the paper check on pay day to the IRS (my bad) and the bank had gone merrily on its little way and already mailed it, with an arrival date of today. Needless to say, I do not live in that echelon of society that can swallow an extra $1500. Trying to get the $$ back from either the bank or the IRS will take weeks; that much is for certain. The first payment already cleared, and now the second payment, unless something happens, will bounce (or all my other pay-bills-by-mail will bounce and cost a fortune in bounced check fees and quite a bit of embarrassment and paperwork with the companies that are expecting paper, not rubber, checks.) Putting a stop-payment on an IRS check was a nervous-making thought. So, the only reasonable approach seemed to be to find the extra money somewhere -- and I knew where. I could take out an advance on one of my credit cards that would cover half of it, and the rest could be taken from savings for now. We had put that amount of money into a savings account six months ago for an expense we had anticipated (and still anticipate); that could be borrowed temporarily. So, off I went to ask Donnie to go take it out of the bank while I worked on getting the credit card advance.

And then that little bubble of perpetual happiness that seems to bounce up and down around me wherever I go got a leak. Donnie became very quiet. He had that little-boy-caught-with-his-hand-in-the-cookie-jar look on his face. Finally, he admitted that (1) he had never put the full amount into the savings account and (2) over the past six months he had been removing the money bit by bit to buy himself comfort things (like foods that I don't buy because they are bad for his diabetes and little gadgets that I don't quite understand the need for). Now, there is nearly nothing in the account. My happiness bubble was leaking pretty fast, and I decided I had better do something to get out of the house -- uh, I could pick up the mail -- before I totally lost it and said those forever-type things.

On the way to the mail, all kinds of things went through my head, most of which centered around divorcing the "freeloader" (Donnie has not been able to find a full-time job since we returned to the USA from Jordan three years ago and brings in small amounts of money through freelance graphics, which he typically keeps for his own use unless there is an unexpected urgency), divorcing the "thief" (Donnie has emptied one or another account in the past without telling me -- the only joint account left is the savings), or putting the "child" on a short leash (making him turn over his checks to me and then giving him an allowance). Clemency was not among any of my thoughts.

Of course, divorce won't solve the current problem. However, the leash might take care of things in the long run! And then there is the real situation. We have been married 40 years, definitely have a quiet but deep bond of love (when I am not angry), survived all kinds of trauma and drama (more than a dozen families together would be expected to survive), parented a bunch of kids, serve actively and happily as grandparents to Nathaniel and Nikolina, and stability is needed now more than ever for Shane and his wife Lemony, given the situation with their children, for Doah who will need to have a united front to solve his addictive-medicine dilemma on Monday and beyond, for Lizzie and Blaine who have just moved to South Carolina on a shoestring and both about to start new jobs who will need a little financial support for a short while, and for Noelle who herself is trying to provide emotional support to her significant other who will likely be in a care facility for the rest of his life due to total renal failure. Shura has returned to Russia to be with his natural parents, has had Julie for support anyway, and has not needed us for a while. Ksenya is busy becoming famous in Hollywood and has her natural mother here now. Nonetheless, at least a half-dozen members of the successive generations do not need to have their parents losing their cool at this moment in their history. Still, the thought of total freedom, just walking away into the sunset, enticed me, well, at least for 5-10 seconds.

In real life, away from my thought-life, I guess it boils down to the one thing I did not consider on the way to the post office: clemency. (Not that the post office trip helped much: there in my post office box lay a demand for payment for $650 for a bill that we have sent evidence twice that we have paid in full! Argh! Is anyone in the billing office capable of reading?) Sigh! Clemency...That is not the choice I feel like making right now. It was not even the choice that came out in the two daily mass readings that I heard this morning. One was the post-battle sacrifice of the king's daughter and the other was the binding and ejection of the guest who came improperly attired to the banquet. Sheesh!

I am going to go walk around the mission grounds in just a little bit and talk to God. I am pretty sure God will hand me back my happiness bubble and teach me more about mercy, my initial reaction always being oriented toward justice rather than mercy. And then life will go on - because it has to and because God always makes my boo-boos stop hurting.

Oh, the money? I sort of forgot about that, didn't I? Nothing to worry about - I already asked God for help, so I have indeed forgotten about that problem other than being ready to follow any guidance that comes along. Actually, after today's thunderstorm, I am looking forward to tomorrow's rainbow, just one of those many gifts from God!

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