Don’t worry, this post isn’t about potty training. Or about gastro intestinal bugs. You don’t have to be a mom to relate to this post.

Because some days, I think, we all feel covered in ick.

There’s the slimy goopy ick of worry that I feel my feet squishing around in.

There’s the impossible-to-scrape-off ick of constantly being behind with the housework, the laundry, the dishes, my deadlines. There’s the rotten in your tummy ick of anxiety, of not being able to control the circumstances that surround you, of being unable to guarantee the future or anyone’s happy endings.

There’s the ick that makes it hard to breathe.

Some of the worst ick is what spatters on the walls, the floor, the toys and your kids’ faces when you let go of that last shred of your temper and yell. The angry-mommy ick is vile.

The any-kind-of-angry ick is awful.

It gets on everything. And it does not wash off easily.

Cleaning up that kind of ick requires salt water. You know the kind I mean.

Salt water and apologies.

And the dangerous thing about ick is that when you are tired of being covered in it, when you want to get rid of it, when you are mad at those who are ick-free there is the overwhelming temptation to fling some of your ick at someone else.

To pull it off, watch it stretch long and sticky, then whirl those gooey globs around and around and let fly at anyone who’s in range. It lands and explodes with:

Irritation and tempter tantrums to rival most two-year-olds.

Laundry lists of past annoyances.

The why-me whine.

And a litany of comparing, complaining, and dissatisfaction.

But the problem with indulging your ick like this? It always boomerangs back.

Messier than before.

And that kind of mess is one that even Oxiclean can’t handle. So, I am learning to play defense instead; the more I want to yell my ick, the more I work to shut it down.

Jesus has always been counter-intuitive. Stable, straw, donkeys and cows for a castle, bedding, court and first home. His advice is usually the opposite of my instincts.

A gentle answer turns away wrath,

but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

The only way I can figure to manage my ick is to ruthlessly contain it.

So, when I screw up all my will power

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

And follow it,

A gentle answer

I am astounded by the results

turns away wrath.

My ick slowly starts to dissolve like so many bubbles in a bath full of soap. Clean emerges.

And second chances.

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