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Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013
TuesdayPosted Friday, December 17, 2010, at 10:35 AM
The day began weird.
I should have known from the start that it was going to be one of those "universe-teaching-lesson" types of day.
When I got into the office that morning I found all of my voice mails were gone. I'm the type of person that will save a non-emergency voice mail until a time when I can get back to it. So, I had eight messages from the previous two days that I had saved and hadn't written down.
All of that information just disappeared!
I went to lunch at Chief's, had a great meal with some good friends, and went to pay for my meal with my credit card. With four dollars in my pocket I discover that their processing machine wasn't working. Rather than the restaurant "eating" the loss and rather than me washing dishes for an hour, I walked down to the PNC Bank located just a block away with my ATM card in hand.
And, you've got it, their ATM machine was down.
There are just days when all the technology fails us. There are just moments when all you considered certain is revealed to be flawed.
And, there are those series of experiences that are like a spiritual classroom, a lab if you will. Throughout the day I struggled with my reactions to these teachable moments. Would I get upset? Should I get mad?
I chose instead to simply laugh about all the things that were going "wrong."
I appreciate that there are things out of my control. There are going to be days when I simply need to adjust and bend. Some things are worth crying over but most things are not. And the universe has this powerful way of reminding me that I'm not the Grand Architect of all Things. Niebuhr said it best: "Give me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
Tuesday continued with more unexpected uncertainties. I used my power well in how I responded to the experiences out of my control. That is, until the late evening, when the wife of a long friend called to tell me her forty-nine year old husband was just diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
I sat there stunned, telephone in hand. And then I began recalling all of the events of the day, the technologies I could no longer blindly count upon, and the things I laughed at believing it best to find a comical response among several poorer choices. I couldn't find anything to laugh at with this news.
Yet I came to appreciate that maybe the day was preparing me for that call. Maybe the Grand Architect "designed" technology to miserably fail for my benefit. Yes, that's rather ego-centric and narcissistic, but such is what we need to be to get through the initial announcement of bad news.
Over and again the day's "message" was that some things are just out of my control.
Tuesday was a good day even with the disturbing news of the evening. And thank goodness Wednesday and Thursday had different lesson plans in store for my growth.
Christmas is coming fast. For many of us it is not the Christmas of which we hoped.
Loved ones are gone, finances can't support all the gifts we want to give, and even the weather won't cooperate with our desires. There are a lot of factors we simply can't change.
However, we can make choices in how we respond to these experiences of life.
I hope you find yourself prepared and ready with the power of the choices you can make in how you respond.
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P.T. Wilson is the senior pastor at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, Greencastle, and is also the University Chaplain at DePauw University.