I sat and talked with a gentleman yesterday about a disappointing experience which had happened to him in recent days. We spoke about turning negatives into positives and how what we might label as “bad” doesn’t have to be a continuing negative experience. “What you do with this extra time, a time you might not have wanted, but have been given will go a long way in shaping the rest of your life. This time is either a blessing or a curse and the choice is yours.”
We underestimate the moments and seasons in our lives that are unwanted and seem to be working against the goals and dreams we have for the present and the future. Wisdom teaches us that every experience can enlighten us, give us knowledge and wisdom, and take us further along the path of life we all are traveling.
Perfect Timing –
Today was a great day for yard work. Our lawn has feasted on the rain and nutrients it’s received this week and has started to grow wild. It was windy and cool today and so I put on my blue jean overalls and hopped on the lawn mower. I had exactly one tank full of gas and it was enough for me to mow the front and the back.
About a third of the way through with the front yard I ran over some landscaping cloth. It was thick enough to get stuck around the blades of the mower. I stopped under our big Oak tree. I was busy messing with the cloth and when I was able to get all of it removed I was about to get back on my John Deere when I saw a long, thick branch just a few feet from where I was parked. Because I was under the mower near the engine I didn’t hear it crash to the ground but was certainly glad I stopped where I did and not a few feet further.
When I finished mowing I grabbed the weed eater and began working my way around the yard. The wind picked up and a few sprinkles fell and I wondered if I would finish before the rain started. I got through and was headed into the workshop as the rain came.
I had experienced two instances of perfect timing in the short span of an afternoon. Time is an interesting concept to try to wrap our minds around. We wonder why things happen when they do. We complain when we’re victims of bad timing and consider ourselves blessed with privilege and perfect timing when things work out for us.
The truth is we can’t control time and must accept with open hand the good and the bad. It is hard trusting the path of life to take us where we need to go and when we need to get there. Acceptance, grace, and thankfulness should be how we receive all that life brings our way.
It floated effortlessly in the air across the opposite lane of traffic. It caught my eye as it passed over the left lane of my side of the highway and a gust of air lifted it up just enough to get over the hood of my truck and became stuck on my antenna. “What are the odds?” I thought, “that this plastic bag and my truck antenna would meet at the exact time and place where it would be snagged and now dragged?” It made an awful noise flapping in the wind. There were too many vehicles on the road to stop and of course a traffic light or stop sign was nowhere to be found. The antenna bent abnormally and because of it’s style the bag was gripped and not going anywhere. Finally, I arrived at a red light and when the truck came to a halt the plastic bag slipped from the antenna and blew away to aggravate someone else.
After the light turned green I made my way to an appointment and reflected upon the way life brings both good and bad things into our path. We aren’t expecting, nor could we arrange the blessing or perceived curse coming our way or manipulate the circumstances to embrace or avoid what we encounter. What we have the power to do is move forward, accept what comes and hope for the courage and humility to deal with the things which float into our lives and attach themselves to us.
“They’re doing what?!?!” This question was asked of me today during a discussion regarding the plight of a family our organization is trying to help. A co-worker shook her head and then made the statement; “Sometimes I wonder if their lives are a result of bad luck or bad decision-making.”
This comment gave me pause and I’ve been reflecting upon it and people’s level of self-awareness and culpability. There are many negative occurrences which happen to us all. There are times when unnecessary, unwanted, and unexpected events are encountered on our journey. We weather the storms and wonder why we’re the recipients of bad luck, karma, insidious plots or sordid conspiracies designed to ruin us. We don’t have to look too far or too deep to find someone or something to blame for our misfortune. Oftentimes, once we’ve found the target(s) of our incrimination, we lay at their feet the responsibility of a life gone wrong.
While “into every life a little rain must fall” is a quaint idiom it’s also true. Life does have its ups and downs, joys and heartaches, triumphs and tragedies. The blessing of being alive carries with it the curse of suffering. There’s no denying that “life isn’t fair” (another quaint saying wrapped in truthfulness). However, we must be careful not to lay all culpability at every doorstep except our own. Our thoughts, words and actions have consequences. Who we are today often dictates, at least in part, what we face tomorrow.
Wisdom reminds us to always choose wisely.