I stand in the middle of the isle, hands grip the cart. I challenge my visual discrimination skills, spying out the giant size boxes of Goldfish crackers at Target.
My heart beats strong as my squinted blue eyes shock wide at the change before them.
The near-square box with a milk carton top and a picture of a big happy Goldfish on the sides now is covered with less-happy Goldfish dressed as Pirates!
That is so unfair. Just like that, with no consultation with me or Stevie, the box has changed.
Life will no longer be as it has been.
Stevie will remember the time Pepperidge Farm decided to add orange basketball shaped traitor-crackers to their traditional goldfish shaped ones.
The horror, the Outrage!
I drive home, put the box away and wait.
Stevie skips off the bus and travels the driveway to our house.
"Goldfish? Mommy, can I have Goldfish please?"
I bring out the box.
"Different Goldfish please?"
"These are all we have, Stevie." I say matter-of-factly.
"Look, Stevie." I pour the fish as I try to pour courage into him. I hide my own fear at what lays inside the box: Are there goldfish in costume, mixed in with the bare ones? Are there swords? Ships?
The possibilities are endless because of the deeds, the crimes committed in boxes past.
I pour from the mysterious carton. Our heart beats slow and breath returns as we see them dressed only with salt.
"See Stevie? They are just the regular Goldfish! Only the box is different!"
He gratefully takes his bowl and crunches the salty snack, his head buzzes with the high only regular Cheddar Goldfish can provide him.
All is as it should be, this time.
But the last time?
The last time was a disaster. The offense of basketballs mixed in with the treasured Goldfish was a unforgettable sin. Goldfish boxes will be scrutinized from here on out!
Often, the last time determines the next time, but not always. It isn't a rule set in stone as my ASD children may expect; as we may expect.
Anxiety stalks "the last time"; crouches at its door, waiting for it to repeat--as if fueling itself for the mocking scream, "It will turn out just like the last time this happened!"
Maybe the millions of children who delight in Cheddar Goldfish as much as Stevie does, complained to Pepperidge Farms about those invader basketball crackers.
Maybe they learned their lesson!
Maybe they won't ever put impostor-crackers in the cute fishy boxes ever again, and Stevie can relax a little when they make the box festive.
Just because it was different the last time the picture on the carton changed, doesn't mean it will be different this time.
But that is what we expect, isn't it? That history repeats itself?
Let's complete these scenarios:
1) Car breaks down. Last time it was the transmission (read expensive!) so this time ______
2) A child throws up. Last time everyone got sick at the same time, so this time ______
3) You wake up with a sore throat. Last time you were sick for weeks, so this time _______
4) Your boss calls you in to his office for an unexpected meeting on a Friday. Need I say more?
And Anxiety sits there waiting to spark the heart to beat faster, the muscles to knot. It is satisfied, it's stomach full.
The first few examples really did happen to us recently, but the results were far from expected. There was no reason to worry; history did not repeat itself.
What happened in reality is:
1) The serpentine belt had shredded and it wasn't nearly as expensive or time consuming to fix.
2) It wasn't a stomach virus at all and no one else got sick.
3) I didn't get sick, coffee soothed my wintered-dry throat.
Just because it happened "that way" last time, doesn't mean it will happen “that way” again.
Having said that, Isn't the definition (according to Albert Einstein) of insanity, "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."?
It’s so freeing to allow ourselves to be insane! (grin)
So much emotional energy is wasted by falling into that all-to-easy trap Anxiety has set up for us. I am sure this is why there is so much good advice in the Scriptures regarding worry and anxiety.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Phil 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
"Anxiety weighs down the heart,
but a kind word cheers it up."
Jeremiah 17: 7-8
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”