Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Hmph! (03/04/10)
TITLE: The Hissy Fit
By Brenda Shipman
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We were fresh out of college, newly married, and transplanted from sunny Arizona to the San Francisco Bay area. Greg, my husband, was in his first year of dental school, and I was teaching third grade in a Christian school, earning a whopping $9,600 a year. Needless to say, we were dirt poor.
We splurged and bought a couch we could afford, an orange and green plaid seventies throwback from St. Vincent de Paul. Bookshelves consisted of concrete blocks and wood slats; our kitchen dinette set was a card table and four chairs, on loan from a generous uncle. Our weekly grocery budget was $30, and if it ever went over that by even a few cents, I’d always put something back.
Greg stayed busy with the daily commute by train into San Francisco, classes and clinical work, and a boatload of homework. My days were filled with teaching, grading papers, making lesson plans and cooking dinner each night. We were so happy as newlyweds that we hardly noticed our meager handful of household goods.
Being a wife and homemaker was a dream come true for me and I had great fun nesting with our sparse collection of furniture. Still, I kept a “bonus” prayer list of items that I wanted, but didn’t necessarily need: a floor lamp, plant stand, and the biggie – a dining room table and chairs. I watched in amazement when someone gave us a plant stand and then later, a floor lamp.
One Saturday, we got a call from a kindergarten teacher I worked with. Edie said, “Brenda, Dan and I are getting a new dining room set and are selling our old one. Would you and Greg be interested in buying it?”
What?! I could hardly contain my joy as I replied confidently, “Of course we would, Edie! Let me just talk to Greg and I’ll call you right back.”
I hung up the phone, raced into the living room where Greg was studying, and nearly shouted the good news. He listened carefully, then hesitated before saying, “Bren, even if Edie is selling it for $25 we just cannot afford it right now. Sorry.”
Being the sweet submissive wife that I was back then, I calmed exploded, I mean replied with, “What?! I’ve had a dining room set on my prayer list for months. This is an answer to prayer!”
“Sorry, Bren. You’re just going to have to call Edie back and tell her no.”
I think a demon took full possession of my body in that moment. Fireworks shot from my eyes and I had to hold onto my head to keep it from spinning as I stomped off with a very loud, “Hmph!”
I decided the kitchen needed a thorough cleaning, immediately! I set about tossing dishes, slamming pots and pans, muttering curses at my husband because he was obviously thwarting God’s wonderful plans for my life, which I was convinced included a dining room set.
Hearing the carnage coming from the kitchen, Greg said he was going to go wash the car (unspoken message – get the heck out of Dodge and allow me some “space” to throw my hissy fit). He stayed gone all afternoon, while I cried out my disappointment through angry frustrated tears. I finally got up the nerve to call Edie back with the horrible news.
“Edie,” I said with trembling voice, “um, Greg and I just cannot afford to buy the dining room set right now. Thanks so much for the offer, anyway.” I could barely keep it together on the phone.
Then came the bombshell that shattered my pity party all to pieces.
“Brenda, Dan and I have talked about it and we have decided to GIVE you and Greg the set.”
I sat there in stunned silence until Edie finally said, “Brenda? Is that ok with you guys?”
“Yes…yes! I just can’t believe it. Thank you so much.”
Greg came home awhile later and I sheepishly told him the news. He simply smiled, and said, “Wow.”
I have never forgotten how God answered my prayer far beyond what I could ever have imagined. While I was throwing my tantrum, God had been working in the hearts of the givers to lavish this gift upon us.
I think that is called grace.
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