Jean-Paul Sartre supposedly once said “Hell is other people.” I have to admit sometimes I want to agree.
Ever knock yourself out working with great precision on something only to have someone else step in and ruin everything? Take, for example, the bookcase my daughters had when they were young. It was a small one my husband had found at a thrift store. That was all well and good. The problem, however, was that his father dealt in used books, and grandpa was so generous that our kids were oversupplied. Keeping their room tidy was an impossibility.
One day I decided they were finally going to have a neat room. To that end I culled the books they had outgrown. Even after eliminating about two-thirds of their tomes, getting all the ones left into such a small case wasn’t easy, but I managed to cram a lot onto each shelf. My fingers actually throbbed with pain from holding open tiny slots to squeeze them in, but I was determined that their room would look nice. At the end of it, I sat back on my heels and sighed with contentment.
I had one second of bliss. I want you to know that. I did have one cherished, ecstatic second of accomplishment.
Then I heard the garage door go up, and my husband, returning from his parents’ home, came in with a huge box of books for the kids.
And. I. Just. Ex. Plo. Ded.
Poor guy didn’t know what hit him. (Yeah, I had to go to confession for that one.)
Or, take for example, the time I spent hours washing the car so it would be picture perfect. I scrubbed. I vacuumed. I got the chrome shiny and the windows sparkling. Muscles ached from all the work. At the end of it all, I parked the car in the garage. Nothing, I assured myself, absolutely nothing could ruin my perfection: neither birds nor inclement weather. Right?
Nope. Of course not. During the night some kids egged our garage door. Local ants found themselves a delicious treat there the next morning. And so my husband, to get rid of the eggs and the ants, picked up the hose and sprayed our dirty garage door—shooting muddy water through the slots between the door sections–right onto my clean car.
Or take the time I helped clean our parish school before the kids came back from summer vacation. My job was to vacuum the entire campus: classrooms and hallway. The vacuum cleaner was so old and hard to push that my arms ached by the end of it. Now, you’d expect this job to last at least until the first kids set foot on the carpeting, right? Surely it would last that long, wouldn’t it?
Not a chance. Some careless person left the back door ajar, and during the night a windstorm kicked up, flinging open the door and blowing the contents of the sand area all over my work.
It’s enough to make you want to tear your hair out.
I can’t help but be reminded of Someone Else Whose work also often gets ruined. Being crucified is horrendously painful, but it’s what Christ went through to endow my soul with grace—and then I often wreck His hard work by careless, thoughtless sinning.
Thank goodness He’s far more patient than I am when things go awry.
Anyway, I finally figured out why Murphy’s Law—”If anything can go wrong, it will”—is true.
Murphy’s Law, apparently, has help.