When times get tough, I try to look on the bright side and count my blessings. I don’t feel so bad about the social distancing and isolation right now in part because the last year has been so hard for me. You see, I had a series of setbacks that were for the best in the end. I’d like to share my experiences with you to demonstrate that hard times often yield positive results.
When One Door Closes, Another Door Opens
Early last year my oldest son was having a lot of trouble in elementary school. He would deliberately cause trouble or just shut down and not want to talk to anyone, to the point that he would get sent home. My wife and I didn’t know what to do about it, especially when the school said we would run afoul of the law if our son kept missing school days because of truancy laws. After a lot of agonizing discussion, we decided to pull him out of that school and try a different one. But he still didn’t improve. We talked it over with him and decided the best thing to do would be to homeschool him. Our two other school-age children were excited about that prospect, so we invited them to be homeschooled, too. At first it was difficult to manage, but over the past school year, we’ve seen remarkable progress from all of them in their reading, writing, and other skills. We’ve never been happier now that there’s no strain involved in learning. A few weeks ago, every school in our district was closed because of the COVID-19 outbreak, but we’ve been completely unaffected.
In November, my automatic garage door got stuck as I was opening it, and I accidentally hit it when I was backing out of the garage. The door was damaged beyond repair, and I had to get it replaced. But it turned out that the new garage door is much quieter than the old one, and there was no major structural damage to the house or the car I was driving.
Disaster Strikes During Days Off
One day in December I was staying home from work to relax when I was shocked to realize that the carpet in my basement was beginning to get soaked with backed-up sewage water. The main sewage pipe connecting my house to the city sewers had burst, and the water from bathtubs and toilets wasn’t able to go anywhere, so it just kept rising until it came out of a drain in the basement. It took a few days to get the pipe repaired and many more to get the damaged walls and carpet removed and replaced. But because I had prepared an emergency fund, I was able to pay for the repairs in cash and get reimbursed for a large portion of it from my insurance company. Plus, it gave me a chance to connect with my neighbors and one of my brothers who lives close by when they came to help me move furniture to make room for the new carpet. Now I have much better carpet, and my wife and children are much happier doing what they can to keep it clean and cared for.
Another time in January when I was taking a day off, I wanted to go to the store, but I discovered that one of my car tires was completely flat. Because of some miscommunication, it took three hours for a tow truck to arrive. But I was grateful to the driver and made sure to treat him kindly because I knew it wasn’t his fault and, even if it had been, I want to treat others well when I’m under stress. And you know what? This turned out to be a good thing because another of my tires was getting close to running out of tread, so I got two new tires to make sure I won’t be having this kind of problem again for a good long while.
I really need to stop taking days off because two weeks ago when I was taking a week-long vacation at home, an earthquake struck my home state of Utah. I heard from family members, coworkers, and friends that they were awakened by the shaking and/or felt many aftershocks. Some of these people live just a few miles from me, but I never felt anything. It was like my house was in a protective zone that wasn’t touched by the earthquake at all.
There Are No Coincidences
It all seemed really difficult at the time, but if it had waited just a bit longer – if just a few weeks ago my garage door had broken, my basement had flooded, or I had gotten a flat tire – it probably would have been a lot harder to get things fixed because of the quarantine measures in effect. I don’t mean to throw myself a pity party or engage in self-aggrandizement. I just want to give my example because I think it points to a larger story playing out in many people’s lives. It’s appropriate to look back on the past with 20/20 hindsight and see that everything that has led me to this point in my life has been for my good. Sure, I’ve had lots of highs and lows, but I’m a better man because of my personal struggles.
All of this reminds me of the climax of the movie Signs when the former reverend played by Mel Gibson realizes that the tragedy of his wife’s death was not a freak accident. He needed to hear her final words in order to prepare himself and his family for a catastrophic event. Instead of being killed in an alien attack, they manage to save themselves because they were forewarned. The moment when he realizes there are no coincidences, his faith in God is restored and he is reconciled with his family.
When it seems like everything is going wrong, those are the times we’ll be able to look back on and see that they weren’t as bad as we thought because they were preparing us for something better. The world isn’t going to end because of COVID-19. Hopefully this experience will help us all to reprioritize our lives and look at all the good things we can learn from it. The signs are all there.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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