Stressed


Up and down my back, my spine, in my brain

It injures me, babe…

Anger, can make you old, yes it can

I said anger, can make you sick, children… oh Jesus

Anger destroys your soul

Rage, there’s no room for rage in there

MARVIN GAYE ANGER

With the office on half shifts, one person per cubicle, it was easy to feel completely alone in the middle of a workday. He had been taking callers at home and in the hospital, working up schedules, reviewing reports, putting out fires, and fielding emails while still in his sweats, chugging coffee and eating breakfast bars at all hours. The younger kids usually went to their mom, but often enough he had one climbing over his lap reaching for the t.v. remote and the other chasing the dog, with his partner shouting at the top of her lungs in the background.

Coming back to work was a relief, but it was obvious he was way behind, and not prepared for this afternoon’s Zoom meeting. God, he thought, I am not used to this quiet. And he was tired. Bone weary, in fact. Tired of working out of his briefcase, laptop balanced on his lap, while his partner used the table. Tired of the constant noise and mayhem in his home, and of the eerie otherness of the hospital where his eldest slowly recovered from the transplant. Tired of the weird hours and long drives. Tired of Zoom. 

“Hey Pete, you in here?” a workmate yelled from across the room, over the cubicle walls.

A burst of adrenaline shot through his body, spreading from his chest to his legs and head. He just about yelled in surprise, and was aggravated that his workmate’s call had startled him. He toyed with the idea of just hunkering down and keeping quiet. Last thing he wanted was another task, or any more time taken away from prepping for this meeting. The guy always needed something, and he didn’t have any more to give.

Finally, reluctantly, he called back, “Yeah, I’m here, whaddaya need?” Even he could hear the resignation in his voice. Don’t hear me, he thought. Just thinking about dealing with this guy made him irritated.

A head suddenly poked over his cubicle wall, causing another spurt of adrenaline to shoot through him. What the hell! I am gonna kill him, he thought.

“Oh yeah, here you are!” His workmate, overly loud in that forced cheerful way, nearly shouted. “I need you to look over this brief.” As he talked, he went round to the cubicle opening, and towards him. “It’s for this afternoon,” and he shoved his tablet under Pete’s nose. This time, he let rip a few choice words, and roughly pushed the iPad away from him.

“You gotta be kidding me!” his own voice was also loud, biting the last word short. “No way. You cannot expect me to deal with this!” He could feel his heart pounding like a jackhammer, his face was hot, sweat breaking out along his hairline. His hands had balled up into fists, and he was this close to taking a swing at him.

“Whoa! Cool your jets!” Laughter.

God, he hated it when that guy said stupid trite stuff like that! His teeth clamped so tight his jaws ached, and the anger arcing through him felt like a living animal. He got his finger ready to jab this guy in the chest as he made his point, don’t be loading your junk on me, it’s not my problem, when a flicker on his monitor screen caught his eye.

Another popup? only this one was so uncannily apt it instantly deflated him.

In big, glowing letters,

The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed,

“The Lord, the Lord,

a God merciful and gracious,

slow to anger,

and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

Exodus 34:6 (NRSV)

He recognized the passage. It was when Moses had asked God to reveal God’s glory to Moses. He had remembered thinking that God’s blinding glory was the visible splendor of God’s mercy, grace, steadfast love, and faithfulness.

And that God was patient, slow to anger…

It was then he realized this was his own doing. He’d loaded a number of passages into an app to keep his focus spiritually minded during his workday.

Turning to his workmate, he offered an apology in a low voice. “I’ll have it to you by noon.”


“Stress” | Wallpaper.flare.com

Joanne led and taught a Bible class of 350-500 students from 2003 to 2013, and has recently retired as an advisor and mentor to eight Bible classes in the Maryland area with BSF, International. ____________________________________________________________ Joanne continues as a Bible teacher with Ancient Voices, Sacred Stories, LLC, and serves on the pulpit teaching team of her church, New Hope Chapel, Arnold, MD. ____________________________________________________________ A long-time "armchair archaeologist," Joanne joined the Board of Directors for the Biblical Archaeology Forum in 2013 and has participated in two excavations, Tel Kabri and Tel Akko. Another passion for Joanne is the healing work of counseling. She serves as a lay counselor and trainer in affiliation with The Lay Counselor Institute, since 2012. Joanne is currently attending Portland Seminary, working towards a Masters in Theological Studies, with an emphasis in Biblical studies

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