Bad habits die hard

Ploughing through another impossible lent fast.

Lent affords a marvelous opportunity for self-examination. Honest soul-searching never fails to amplify the wonder of God’s mercy. Rather than give up some small indulgence for Lent this year, I thought, why not focus on one of my bad habits? (There’s no shortage.)

For instance, I’m a little edgy these days. Pandemic fatigue probably has something to do with it, along with endless winter, a barrage of horrific news about war and suffering in Ukraine, Canadian families and businesses in crisis and sky rocketing prices for pretty much everything. I find myself reacting quickly and intensely to life’s little irritations, especially anything that upsets my precariously balanced applecart. So on the first day of Lent, I asked the Lord to help me control the fretting and be a more peaceful, grateful person. Careful what you pray for.

Snow plough panic

Jack was away from home for a week. He had trained me on the big tractor and snow blower – “just in case.” Sure enough, the first night he was gone we had wild winds and squalls. The next morning dawned winter glorious – bright sunshine, blue sky and several big drifts to remove. I had nearly cleared them away when the snow plough passed by on the highway. And there, across the entire width of our laneway was a newly created berm. The driver had cut back a large snow bank between us and our neighbours, but failed to lift the blade at the end of it. He literally scraped up the shoulder of the road and left me with a jagged ridge of mud slabs, gravel and ice chunks, about a meter wide and half as high.

There was nothing peaceful or grateful about the words I released into the morning air regarding the driver’s intelligence. Thankfully he was beyond earshot.

I called Jack in a panic and demanded that he come home immediately. He mumbled something about the next available flight being days away. I ranted on about my predicament, feeling quite helpless against this monumental mess. He’s a good husband. He listened sympathetically and offered gentle encouragement.

“You can do this. I know you can,” he said.

“Do you think CAA covers tractors in the ditch?” I asked.

“You’ve got this!” he said with a laugh.

With that resounding vote of confidence and a fair amount of fear and trembling, I headed out to tackle the challenge. The blower made a dreadful racket as it devoured the sludgy mix of mud, gravel and ice. But as I worked at it, manoeuvring back and forth between the highway and the ditch, I became calmer. An hour later, the driveway was open. I tucked the tractor and blower back into the shed – victorious, although still vibrating somewhat from the adrenaline rush.

On my way to the house, I thanked the Lord sincerely, repenting for once again freaking out when I should have simply trusted.

Here we go again

Running late is another of my bad habits. So Sunday morning I left for church in plenty of time. Honestly. Before long I was stuck behind a line of traffic led by (what else?) – a snow plough. His blade was up. He wasn’t sanding or salting, just chugging along, 40 km below the speed limit, lights flashing ominously. At long last he pulled into Tim Hortons. I didn’t salute him with a fist in the air. We need snow plough drivers, right? No doubt he had earned his coffee break. In my heart I wished him well. Sure.

I arrived exactly two minutes before the service began. I am SO looking forward to Easter!


  • Heidi VanderSlikke

    Heidi VanderSlikke lives on a farm in Mapleton Township with her husband Jack. They share their home with a gigantic Golden Retriever named Norton, who thinks he's a lap dog. Heidi and Jack have three happily married children and seven delightful grandkids.

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