A few days ago I was in a big way of doing some spring cleaning since school was out so early. I had taken all of my curtains down in the dining room and living room and was cleaning all of the windows. The curtains were fresh and ready to be re-hung. I only had one more window to clean.
When I released the latches on the bottom window so that I could fold it out, the top one came crashing down, knocked the bottom one out of my hands into the back of the sofa and you can guess the rest. The bottom window was shattered and the top window was cracked. I was so frustrated and had my feelings hurt, I wanted to sit right down and cry. Why do such stupid things have to happen?
Of course I didn’t give in to tears. I went after the duct tape and started taping the glass so that it did not fall out all over the floor. I didn’t know what else to do. I could see my little vacation fund going down the drain right in front of my eyes with every strip of tape.
It took days of trying to get in touch with the people who installed the window, calling hardware stores, trying to get up with repairmen and coming up with dead ends before I was to finally make a connection with the good people at Harlan Glass. Someone came to the house, measured the window and ordered what I needed. Yes, my vacation fund vanished, but at least I had a little cushion that could be used for the emergency.
Here’s the thing that I learned from all of that. Crazy things happen for no apparent reason. They are frustrating, aggravating, irritating and depressing. Things happen that are nobody’s fault at the time. If we aren’t careful, they will steal our joy and cause us to lose sight of all of the good things and focus only on the bad.
Was there anything good in the broken window situation? Yes. I had all of my windows clean except the very last one. All of my curtains were laundered and ready to go back up. Friends were coming to help me re-hang them. And most importantly, no one had gotten hurt when the window crashed. I was lucky it hadn’t hit me in the face, or the shattered glass cut my arms up. And the window had hit the back of the sofa and stopped rather than falling out in the floor where flying glass could have caused some major problems.
Perspective is everything. After all, it was only a window. Help is on the way. My new window should be safely in place by the time this column is in print.
A few years ago I took a tumble down a flight of 13 concrete stairs and smacked my head on the sidewalk at the bottom. A lady who went to my church at that time said, “The devil pushed you down those stairs.” My response was, “If he did, then the Lord caught me at the bottom.”
Every time I hear of someone passing away from a much less serious fall or blow to the head, I know it is a miracle that I survived that fall and head injury. Every time I think of it, I don’t wonder why God allowed it to happen. I wonder what things God still has in store for me to do that were reason enough for Him to preserve my life. The fact that I survived it tells me that God isn’t finished with me yet.
One of my friends had his computer crash recently. I have never seen him so depressed. He had thousands of photos on his computer from years of travel in different parts of the world. He had professional records and correspondence stored on his hard drive along with his curriculum vitae, banking records, and so forth. Apparently, he had not backed them up.
I understand his frustration (and I’m sure many other readers will also be able to relate) because anyone who has ever had a computer bite the dust has to deal with the reality of losing valuable information. If it is important enough to save, it is important enough to back up. Better safe than sorry. When and/or if your computer dies, try to remember that it is only a machine. It is better to have a computer die than to have a person you love die. That is keeping things in perspective.
In the past week, our family has lost two amazing people. Geneva Hoskins Hamlin, wife of Walter Hamlin (my mother’s brother), died 19 days after she was suddenly hit by a stroke. She was buried on Sunday in Independence and news came on Monday morning that my mom’s brother, Cecil Hamlin, had died in Michigan. As relatives have reflected over their lives, it has been with great admiration. All the stories I’ve heard about them, all of the memories of them, have been good.
It would be so easy to get swallowed up in grief for losing two family members that close together. But they were both wonderful people who loved God and lived their lives as Christians. They had led full and productive lives and were greatly loved by those who knew them.
We have a choice in the midst of such sorrow. We can celebrate the life of the person we knew and release them from this life, knowing that we will be rejoined with them in eternity, or we can let ourselves dwell on the loss, allowing sadness and depression to rule our attitudes about death and rob us of the joy in the life we’ve been given.
Have you ever noticed that in the big crisis situations, most of us handle things pretty well? We are all a lot tougher than we think when we have to be. Tragedies often bring out the very best in people through prayers, support and acts of kindness.
When the big hurts come, we recognize them and deal with them. But little hurts accumulated over time will wear a person down more than one big event. The little things that bother us in life often become the hindrance that will cause us to miss the good things. All of the aggravations, hurts, disappointments, troubles and frustrations of life will be easier to deal with if we can simply try to keep them in perspective.