Sometimes things just don’t work right. Big or small, we can roll with it or let it turn us on our heads.
Technology, for instance. I know almost nothing about it. When technical things don’t work right, I have no idea what to do in order to fix it. I rely on the charitable goodness of my friend Misty to fix most things that go wrong with the website. When she can’t [and I don’t know she ever finds time with her large family and many commitments], the oopsie isn’t made right.
Last week’s post, for instance, isn’t tallying correctly. It shows ‘2 Likes’ instead of … well, lots more. I don’t know what, why, or how. So – I let it go. Who cares, anyhoo, about something this elemental. My hope is that folks read and it, somehow, gives a lift or an insight or a chuckle. Sometimes the video doesn’t show. Or something else disappears. The photos that are supposed to show with side bar Good News posts stopped working right. If I try to figure it out? Forget about it.
Some things that go wrong are much harder, or of real importance. Or blindside us and we aren’t ready for them. [Are we ever truly ready for hard things? Probably not. So forget I wrote that.]
Here are a few ideas that have helped me focus on working right when things – or people – around me, don’t:
1. Keep Believing in Goodness
When awful things happen, or people hurt us greatly, there’s a choice: Will we let it break us or will we remember that goodness is always present, even when bad things happen?
I think most folks still believe in goodness. I catch people saying good things and doing good deeds. There is inherent, in most of us, a light that desires to add goodness to the world. When catastrophes occur, they come out of the woodwork. It matters.
This Christmas, I answered the door bell to find a stack of goodies at the door stoop. No one was anywhere in sight. I needed help to bring in the haul [!] and we all exclaimed [we were in the middle of a family gathering] over the treats and the good gifts left for us. There was a card signed like this
Love, Santa’s Elves
See? I knew there was a Santa! His elves- any of those good folks who go about bringing joy and peace, in any number of ways, bring more light and goodness. Sometimes it comes when things are gong well in our lives. Sometimes, we see and feel it – or are gifted it – at times that are hard and dark and heavy. It’s always there. After a dark night, a sunrise will come.
2. Remain Involved in Life
I just can’t believe we came here to sit on the sidelines and observe. This is a full-activity mission we’re on. When things are joyous or miserable, the more we involve ourselves in the process of living life [not getting run over by it or chased away from the work of it] the better our comprehension will be of Important Things.
Here’s a short story by Anthony de Mello that seems to teach this lesson well:
Before the young man began his studies he wanted assurance from the Master.
Can you teach me the goal of human life?
I cannot, replied the Master.
Or at least it’s meaning?
Can you indicate to me the nature of death or of life beyond the grave?
The young man walked away in scorn. The disciples were dismayed that their master had been shown in a poor light.
Said the Master soothingly:
Of what is it to comprehend life’s nature and it’s meaning if you have never tasted it? I’d rather you ate your pudding than speculated on it.
I have sometimes wanted to crawl into a hole – a safe place – to escape the drowning rains that seem to almost sweep me away, or the aching heart moments when it seems as if I can’t take any more.
But I can take what is needed. When I’ve come out of those shadows, there has been more light to strengthen me. There’s more understanding of so many things – and myself – once I’ve gone through the experience.
Yes, I need to eat my pudding. Life offers more when I do, because I don’t know enough to speculate on much of anything. The doing of life‘ s experience offers me the bridge to understanding.
3. Be Willing to Grow Hope
I remember teaching at a university campus one summer when a lady came up to me after one of my classes. She told me -without whining, self deprecation, or complaint that earlier that year their house had burned down. Every single thing they had was lost. But every single person was safe. She expressed gratitude for my class – on hope, as it turned out – and went her way.
I’ve thought of her many times. Her air of certainty and grace. Her solid faith. Her understanding that things don’t matter, but people and principles do. Little does she know how much hope she grew in me, that day.
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings of eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.
She was an example of one who has internalized hope and has her strength renewed.
P.S. – her son had passed away. She had an incurable illness, and it wasn’t the first time their house had burned to the ground. But she didn’t give up hope, and the peace in that woman has been a genuine beacon of an example to me, as I’ve had my own tough times.
When things don’t work right. . . and they often don’t, we can still keep working, right? It’s not the end of All Things Good, even when the hurt or the sting remains for a long time. Oh how I hope that each one of you reading this feels hope and goodness in your heart. There is strength to gain. There’s love to share. There are lessons to – truly – learn. That’s good.
And goodness matters.