Thursday, January 21, 2010

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Life is full of lessons.
I, for one, don’t always listen as well as I might. But when I do, something always becomes more clear than it was before. I had no idea I’d be on the receiving end of a new life-learning experience when, just as I pulled into Galva on the way home from an out-of-town basketball game one night, our car began making a decidedly unpleasant noise. I nursed it into the driveway, not knowing what it meant, but thinking that it sounded expensive. The vehicle in question is our “good” car. It’s not new and it’s got its share of miles on it, but we like it, and it’s in pretty good shape, so we’ve babied it along, with frequent oil changes and other maintenance, in the hopes that it would last for awhile. We even put a rebuilt transmission into it last summer, thinking it was worth the investment. But now, that money, along with the other repair and maintenance items we’ve put into the thing over the past few years, seemed like an expensive waste of time and money.
It’s probably a good thing I’m not wealthy, because I’m not exactly a financial wizard. My spouse, while not as scatterbrained as me when it comes to money matters, would still probably rather be in the halls of Irving School than the trading rooms of Wall Street. So it was a pretty big deal for us as we tried to figure out what to do next. Put simply, we were both pretty anxious about the prospect of either spending big bucks on the car, or giving up on it and investing even bigger bucks on something different. After a long weekend spent cruising car lots and scanning ads while waiting for the news from the repair shop, we were no further along, but even more stressed out about the whole thing.
But of course, other things were going on outside of our own little world.
And we began to think.
We thought of the countless families and individuals struck by unimaginable tragedy after the earthquake in Haiti.
On a smaller, more personal level was the quiet conversation I had with an acquaintance who lost her young husband not too long ago.
“It was so hard for awhile,” she said. “But I finally realized how strong he had made me.”
“I’ll be O.K.”
We talked about these things, and we talked about the car, too. Finally, Megan turned to me and said the words that had suddenly become so obvious to both of us.
“We’ve got no problems at all.”
And so, we’ll pray for those many Haitians who have lost homes, friends, families and a whole way of life. And we’ll pray and think of that courageous widow, who lost the most important person in her life, but stays determined to go on.
Our budget is going to be kind of out-of-kilter for awhile. But, that’s not nearly as important as it seemed just a couple of days ago, because we know we’ve got everything that matters. Because we learned a lesson:
Don’t sweat the small stuff.

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