The Box of Niggly Thoughts

Like a pocket full of jingling change, most of us carry around a mental collection of Niggly Thoughts. These are snatches of memories, conversations, or stuff we’ve read that we don’t exactly agree with, but have never resolved. They’re annoying, but not something we feel a burning need to take care of.

Well, I’m in a spring cleaning mood. Time to dump out my Niggly Thoughts and see if I can get rid of a few.

Let’s see, sorting through the pile… what have we got here?

The Pastor’s Guilt Trip
Many years ago, a former pastor told the story of how he and his family were all packed up and ready to go on vacation; but as they were heading out of town, he found out that a parishoner had been admitted to the hospital. So he had to cancel the vacation, and his family understood this was part of serving the church.

Dear pastor,

  1. You didn’t have to be the one to stay. You could have arranged for an assistant pastor or a deacon to fill in until you got back.
  2. You knew you’d shortchanged your family. You told this story to justify yourself to the congregation, casting yourself in the role of the dedicated pastor who gave his all to the church.
  3. You expected all your members to do the same thing — our families be damned, your church was the thing!
  4. We didn’t realize that you’d treat us the same way you treated your family, and decide it was time to move on to another church, leaving us stranded and forced to accept it as “God’s plan.”

I’m so done with this one. Wad it up, toss it away.

**

Contrived Plot Device
In a story I read years ago, the two women shared a fence and a deep dislike for each other. But when one of them died, the other discovered that they’d been best friends in letters they wrote one another for years through the local newspaper.

Dear story,

  1. Was that a thing in the previous century? Newspaper penpals? It’s possible I misunderstood the setup, since I was young. And I don’t remember much else about the story to check it out now.
  2. How could you become such good friends and never realize you lived right next to each other? It’s not like an anonymous internet forum where people can be from anywhere including Venus; it was a local newspaper so you both knew you lived in the same town.
  3. I lived in a small town. I didn’t know everybody, but I guarantee that it wouldn’t take too many details in a letter before the townspeople began to pinpoint location and family connections.

Your sharp little corners have been poking me for years. Fold it up, drop it in the trashcan.

**

Marriage Advice
Someone (probably irritated at my admittedly-irritating twitterpation when I was engaged) told me that two years into marriage, DJ would stop being so affectionate and thoughtful.

Dear person,

  1. We’re 16 years in. And it hasn’t stopped.
  2. I’m sorry about your marriage.

My throwaway stack for “Stupid Advice from People I Didn’t Ask” is pretty thick now that there’s Facebook.

**

Parenting Wisdom
When I was pregnant, more than one really annoying person laughed and said that once I had my baby, I wouldn’t sleep through the night again until the baby was 18.

Dear annoying people who thought my uncomfortably large abdomen gave you permission to say discouraging things,

  1. It wasn’t true, at least not in our household. Can’t help what happens in yours.
  2. Never say this again to a very pregnant woman.

Mark this one for ritual burning.

**

Because English
The English language allows me to say, “I was impressed. Which I expressed by laughing.”

  1. Impress and express ought to be opposites, but they aren’t in that sentence.
  2. English, you’re crazy.

This one… well, actually, I kind of like this one. I’ll put it back for now.

There, my Box of Niggly Thoughts isn’t overflowing anymore. Maybe I’ll dig deeper another time — but for now, sure does feel good to get a little cleaning done!

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