Garrett was edgy. His tension erupted in bursts of temper--which, with a little more effort, could have become tantrums.
Coral tried, as lovingly as she could, to get at the root of the problem. But as so often happens between wives and husbands, it seemed only to heighten his moodiness. Or lower it, as the case may be.
Garrett Thomson was owner and manager of a popular local restaurant which his dad opened back in 1955, before Garrett was born. What had begun as a tiny lunch counter in a “hole in the wall” between an alley and a department store in downtown Portland, was now in its own building, with architecture like its neighbors in the Northwest district of the city: hip, happening, expensive. Thompson’s menu was eclectic, the cost of the artwork--otherwise known as food--could be called “spendy.”
And Garrett was reaping the benefits of this money-tree, both positive and negative.
He thought back with fondness on his dad’s venture, the small café Garrett knew as a child: cozy, tasty and filling home cooking, with patrons who knew each other and the Thomson family, and prices which didn’t cause the diners to bleed. His dad never seemed worried or stressed. His mom threw in a few hours’ work a day, but never whined about it, or showed by word or attitude that it was beneath her or too tiring.
He wondered what his dad would have thought about Thomson’s now. In the excitement of building and updating the restaurant, he was sure his mom and dad would have applauded his efforts and the success he was having. In his quieter moments, he wondered.
Times had changed. External pressures were nearly unbearable. Restaurant inspections, human resources rules and regulations, brutal competition; he continually felt like he was being challenged, that he would never be able to get in front of the race.
He was getting less sleep than ever. His weight was out of control. The doctor’s visits were becoming more and more frequent as they tried to get a handle on his escalating blood sugar and blood pressure. He had almost given up watching television: the commercials for all the products dealing with life-threatening ailments added to his unease and worry.
And Coral wanted to know what was the matter. What was the matter?
If he could just shut off his mind! But if he did that--well, who would take over the business? Who would take care of the mountain of details which daily threatened his livelihood? How could he deal with the personnel problems, the constant turnover, the governmental laws and ordinances which, God knew, nobody could keep track of, much less adhere to. It occurred to him that perhaps he needed to sell the restaurant.
STOP! He loved that business.
He was once again on that thought merry-go-round which just wouldn’t slow down.
He remembered last Sunday’s sermon, grateful that his wife still maintained the Sunday service habit and insisted he do the same. The Pastor’s message centered around thoughts.
In II Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) was the phrase: “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Pastor then went to Philippians 4:8 and 9, that list of positive thinking which would result in the presence of the God of peace. That meant a personal responsibility on the believer’s part, in order for God to do His.
Peace, he thought. That’s what he needed. If Christ is alive in him--and he believed that to be so, with his whole heart--was his undisciplined thinking hindering God’s peace?
He went to find his Bible; then he went to find his wife.
In humility and with prayer for God’s grace, he apologized to Coral, then shared a couple of thoughts he’d had while reading Scripture. He explained his failure in keeping his thoughts disciplined, and knew that was what was bringing about the turmoil in his life (and consequently in Coral’s, and in the business as well, he had to admit).
“Can we get back to our regular prayer and Bible study time together?” he asked, deferentially (Coral had long ago quit nagging about it). “I need to refocus, to get my mind on things above.” He grinned self-consciously, preaching to her now.
They agreed it wouldn’t be easy. But with positive faith they stepped into conversational prayer, each taking a moment to share thoughts and petitions as they gave glory to God for His peace and presence.
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