Cabin Fever Woes

winter scene 3-19-17
View from the front deck of our driveway on March 19, 2017


Do everything without kvetching. –Philippians 2:14 CJB

“Quit your kvetching,” my mother often told me.

She used that Yiddish word whenever I complained about something, like when I’d gripe that my nose didn’t look right on my face.

“Imagine what you’d look like without a nose,” she’d say.

No sympathy. At all.

But she knew there were things in life I’d have to deal with – things I couldn’t change and things I could (like my attitude), but I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. Pity parties may be good to air bottled-up emotions, but they don’t remedy the situation.

My friend Rebecca is a lot like my mother in that way. I have to admit, sometimes I don’t appreciate her words. All I want is a little sympathy. I don’t get it. Instead I receive a verbal boot in my feeling-sorry-for-myself attitude.

Take, for example, my grumbling on Facebook this past week about being cooped up during this messy winter with its manic weather and the resulting cabin fever. Every time I plan to make the 12-mile drive down the mountain to town to get my hair cut, precipitation is forecast. I don’t drive on roads that may freeze up in the blink of an eye or if there’s even an inkling of the possibility of freezing rain. I’ve rescheduled my appointment three times. And from the looks of Tuesday’s forecast, it’ll be four.

“I find if I get cabin fever,” Rebecca wrote, “it usually means I have too much time on my hands.”

Too much time on my hands? I resented that. I have a schedule packed with things to do: prepare services and sermons, write my weekly column, schedule my blog, work on my novel, do laundry, make meals, clean up after the cats.

Oh, did I mention I’m kitty-sitting my grandkids’ two cats? And vacuuming up hair (they’re big, fuzzy cats) and cleaning up you-know-what because one of them won’t use the litter box.

But there I go, kvetching again.

Rebecca was right. Although I have items on the to-do list, I wasn’t doing them. “I don’t feel like it,” I’d tell myself. Or give myself some other lame excuse.

Instead of centering down and focusing on being productive, I’ve been wandering cyberspace, chasing rabbit trails, accomplishing nothing – and making myself more depressed.

Rebecca says I can regain my focus, motivation, and momentum by getting busy. And she suggested some activities:

  • Cooking/baking for an elderly friend or neighbor;
  • Putting together little packages for moms at a homeless shelter;
  • Rearranging or redecorating a room in your home that you have wanted to do for a while;
  • Start a new Pinterest board or web page;
  • Make a craft and do a video of making the craft and post it online so others can try it out too.

Her suggestions go right along with what Paul wrote to the Philippian church: “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:4 NLT).

Cabin fever? Focus on doing one item on your to-do list at a time and find ways to help others. Getting your eyes off yourself will pull you out of the pit of self-pity.

And it’s a sure cure for kvetching.

 Take this winter day, O Lord, and fill it with Your peace. Show me someone I can help and make my grumbling cease. Amen.

 Read and meditate on Philippians 2:1–18

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

When Life Isn’t Fair



Read and meditate on Matthew 20:1–16

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. –Philippians 4:11 NIV

Cheryl (not her real name) worked for one company for more than 25 years, faithfully showing up on time and putting in a full day’s work and then some. One of her responsibilities—for which she was not compensated—was to train new hires.

One day she discovered the girl she’d been training, who’d just passed the probation period, made the same hourly wage as Cheryl did. Compensation, she learned, was based not on seniority but on job position.

I never understood the point of the parable Jesus told in today’s reading. It just seemed unfair that those who worked only a few hours received the same pay as those who’d slaved all day under the hot sun.

But when I finally got past what I perceived as unfairness, I gleaned not one, but four lessons.

First, life isn’t fair. Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers then thrown in jail, where he languished for years, on a false accusation. Paul faithfully pursued God’s calling, only to be shipwrecked, stoned, beaten, left for dead, chased out of town more than once, and arrested on false charges (2 Corinthians 11:21–33). If that wasn’t enough, a “thorn in the flesh” (no one knows what it was) plagued him. Even though he prayed about it, God didn’t remove it, instead telling Paul, “My grace is sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:7–10).

The second thing I recognized was that we humans are a grumbling lot. The Israelites complained all the way from Egypt to the Promised Land. We’re no different. You know what it’s like to spend time with a grumbler. They’re miserable, so they make everyone around them miserable. Our complaining has an effect not only on our perspective, but also on others. Both Paul (Philippians 2:14) and James (James 5:9) tell us not to grumble or complain.

Instead we are to let everything we say be good and helpful so that our words are an encouragement to those who hear them (Ephesians 4:29). Every morning I pray, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

It helps to have a good perspective, and that is attained by allowing God to transform our minds (Romans 12:2) and think only that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).

The third lesson I gleaned from this parable is to stop comparing myself with others, my situation with their situation, my pay with their pay. Instead, I am to be content with what I have (Hebrews 13:5), in whatever circumstances I find myself (Philippians 4:11–13).

Either I believe God is in control of everything that touches me—and has a plan and purpose for it—or I don’t.

And finally, once I got past the unfairness, I saw that this isn’t a parable about fairness at all. It’s about God’s grace. God’s amazing grace.

If He wants to give the deathbed conversion the same heaven as the lifelong servant, He can. It’s His grace to dispense as He chooses, and His home to open to whomever He welcomes.

I still struggle with unfairness, and I will as long as I tread this sphere. But I have the assurance that even though life may be unfair, God never is.

Help me, Lord, not to focus on “fair” but to focus on You. Amen.

© 2017, Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Image in public domain.