Monday, January 20, 2014

What the Next Big One won't Take Away

     I sit contentedly with at my computer. The cat is on my lap and I’m sipping coffee from my favorite coffee cup. All is right with my world. There are no troubles to face here.
In my young age, I didn’t know how to deal with my troubles well. I would sit in school, or more likely in my room at home, with my math book open in front of me. The numbers would be stacked up like torturous pillars of confusion and agony. I would stare at the math problems and not even be able to remember my basic multiplication facts. My mind would slide away from the math book and come to another place. I’m not proud of where I went, which was where I was beating up the authors of the math textbook. I would sit at my desk at home or school. The math problems would vanish and there I would be inflicting injury on the three people whose names appeared on the title page of my write-in textbook. That was how I thought I could solve my problems. And in truth, the math anxiety did go away when I ignored the math problems and went somewhere else. Why wouldn’t I think it was a good solution?
     This was about the same time that I was experiencing growing pains, both physical and emotional. Not knowing how to deal with feeling left out and lonely, I created other worlds to occupy, which I’ve talked about before. But there was something else I did too. I imagined that there was a place somewhere where people’s troubles and problems physically existed. There was a big building somewhere, kept under guard obviously. And sitting on display were little objects resembling cold remedy capsules. Each of these capsules was the physical manifestations of an individual’s troubles. And here was the great part: All I had to do was infiltrate that building and squash mine, and that would end my troubles. My life would be trouble-free. That was my solution for how to be happy.
     I don’t want to blame anyone or anything for my lack of healthy coping skills back then. And if I could go back, I don’t think I would want to change anything. My childhood fostered a hard-working imagination and it’s easy to have empathy for kids today.
     Of course today I still encounter little things that trouble me. And deep down, I hope that’s the worst that happens to me. I feel like I’ve paid my dues in the genuine pain and disaster department and nothing catastrophic ought to ever happen to me again. But I know the truth. Losing a daughter to cancer does not get my ticket punched and exempt me from further tragedy.
     I think about when I was going through the toughest times of my life and I did have good coping skills. I prayed a lot. The worse off my life was, the closer I got to God. And now that I’m kind of coasting, my prayer life can be rather lukewarm.
     Bad things happen to good people. While God does not stamp and OK on those things, He never wastes a hurt. The result of something horrible happening in my life could be that I will draw closer to Him. But I can wait for the next thing to happen, or I can choose to draw close to Him now.
So, my coffee pot broke last week. This was not the next tragic thing. But when I posted it on Facebook, not only did I get an outpouring of sympathy, but three friends offered me a coffee pot they had. This was a reminder that even when the little things happen, people are there for me.
So something might happen in my life. Like “The Big One”, the huge earthquake scientists predict will hit someday, it’s not a question of if, but of when. Southern California had a few tremblers last week and it can make me edgy. But in truth, I will never really lose what’s important.
For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow,  or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.   Romans 8:38-39 (Living Bible)

Now this morning as I drank my last cup of pour-through coffee, (my new coffee-pot arrived in the mail Saturday)I had my cat on my lap and was feeling content. Then there was a plop. The rubber on the bottom of my coffee cup fell in my lap. My favorite coffee cup that holds lots of coffee and keeps it warm with a lid and I use exclusively every morning when I write, it’s falling apart.  Another little trouble to deal with. A very little one and it’s pretty amusing that the day I get a new coffee pot, my old coffee cup begins to self-destruct. I thank God for little reminders that nothing I think I own will ever last. I just need to remember what is His will last forever.

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