Dear I.R.S. Lady,
2:59 pm–I am already late to pick up our big kids, but still stop to get the mail.
I see your large, sealed envelope with Internal Revenue Service–Official Business printed across the top. I have a hunch it’s not a refund check.
3:01 pm–I tell myself not to worry as I drive in my lateness to the kids’ school.
It wouldn’t-couldn’t be the dreaded audit.
The one where I have to go find all the paperwork that it sitting somewhere in that massive pile-to-file.
3:17 pm–Returning home with car full, I finally open your document.
Sure enough–we’re examining your federal income tax return.
And then something-stuff about adoption tax credit, substantiate, and wihin 30 days.
And yes–I wrote:
Frustrated mama of sarcasm thinking snotty thoughts about how you all can’t even spell correctly on your own federal papers.
Besides the fact that we already sent you those exact papers you are requesting.
3:21 pm–Still scanning your letter for a phone number to call.
Blood pressure rising as I realize you have sent me duplicates of the same form and are asking for a different enclosed form that is NOT enclosed.
Kids emptying out lunch boxes in the background, while half-full yogurt containers splatter on the newly cleaned kitchen floor.
Oh poor you–dear IRS lady–who will answer this call I’m about to make.
3:37 pm–Phone wedged between ear and shoulder, I have folded two loads of laundry as I wait for a live person.
More discouraging mechanical prompts.
3:52 pm–Someone will be with me shortly because you are very busy right now.
So am I.
3:54 pm–Apparently I’m next in line but loud voices in the background alert me to a diaper-become-quite-dangerous.
I attempt a one-handed fix and create a two-handed MESS.
Phone slips, and hits the edge–
I hear you saying to me: That is not a valid entry.
I hang up.
And now I’m angry.
Dear IRS Lady–be forewarned of the frustration heading your way.
4:07 pm–Still cleaning up the mess as I dial again.
The screechy piercing sound of a fax machine greets me.
I hang up.
I dial again.
4:08 pm–Back to waiting in line to talk with you.
But you shouldn’t have said–“thank you for your patience”–
Because I’m not–
Just giving you a heads up.
4:27 pm–Still waiting. Still angry.
I look at the clock and realize that in 90 minutes, more than twenty people will arrive at our house. Before they show up, I need to feed all the kids, pull the house together, finish cleaning the bathrooms that were sidetracked by a toddler-wielding-scissors-cutting-holes-in-shirts-during-naptime.
Do you think I have time for this?
4:31 pm–I hear the phone crackle and then your voice.
You say with lightening speed: This is _________at __________ IRS ID #___________.
And I miss it all because I’ve waited so long that I am now outside breaking down recycling.
I’m ready to use words with sharp edges.
I want you to feel their point–
I want you to know that if I could fire you, I would.
Because someone should pay for this added-afternoon-stressor.
4:31 and 30 seconds– But then it all changes.
Your words are kind.
Your words are calm.
Your soft answer turns away my wrath.
You explain–you even acknowledge that I did already send those papers and the error is on your end of things.
4:32 pm–I feel my anger smothered as you ask questions about our adoptions.
I sense your supportive heart.
You are patient in my long-winded explanations.
4:33 pm–Laughing. You make me laugh–such good medicine for anxious shoulders hunched in conflict anticipation.
4:34 pm–Nothing has changed.
But really–so much has.
I still have to send in the-paperwork-already-sent-in-two-months-ago.
But I feel the anger slowly washed away in grace.
I.R.S. Lady–I know God had my line connect with you today.
10:45 pm–The house is quiet and I just want to thank you for your kindness gift.
I’m embarrassed by the word-flood almost unleashed.
I ask God for His forgiveness at my quickly kindled fury.
And I’m thankful for God’s Truth holding True.
“A soft answer turns away wrath.”
7:52 am–So on this Thursday morning….
Just want you to know I’m thankful for the difference one person’s right response can make.
Thank you for your gentle tongue–
That led me back to the tree of life.
I want to remember your response and it’s power,
the next time I come face-to-face with
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and healing to the body.”