By Sharon Ray
It was not very spiritual of me to hide in the bathroom and cry when my daughter called and told me her new car had broken down for the second time just as she was heading for an important appointment relating to the start of her new in-home care business for the elderly. Instead of letting pity overwhelm me, I should have followed the example of my 5 year old grandson who was with her and her husband at the time of the P.T. Cruiser’s sudden infirmity, and who exemplified perfectly that the difference between trouble and joy is 100% attitude.
My daughter reported to me that when the tow truck arrived, Little David was overcome with excitement and cried out, “ARE WE GONNA RIDE IN THAT TOW TRUCK?!?!” As his Mommy and Daddy climbed into the cab of the truck, they turned around to pull Little David in. Rather than being upset about the car trouble, he was wearing an ear to ear grin, excited for his first ride in a real tow truck. After climbing in, he immediately perched himself backwards to have a perfect view of the action in the back of the truck.
“Our car’s in the air! Our car’s in the air!” He exclaimed with glee. After that, they all got strapped in and headed to the repair shop, and he asked with hopeful anticipation, “Are we going to ride in here all day?”
LOL! I determined that I’d follow David’s fine example next time I had car problems…which was today.
I was on my way to Los Angeles when I noticed that my faithful air conditioner was running warm. I looked at the gauges and found that the hot/cold gauge was maxed out on HOT. My hand flew over my mouth in surprise and concern (the actual word would be “consternation” defined as the feeling one gets when one is in big trouble and is at a loss at to how to get out of it).
Having left from Buellton, I had not even made it to Santa Barbara. I reduced my speed and hoped to make it to Stork Ave. where there is a gas station flanked with a nearby Starbucks and sushi restaurant. I was trying hard to make it to that off ramp where I could suffer in comfort and pleasure.
Suddenly, the car began to smoke, which could have been a sign of fire (this was the point where I began to swear, but only three words and they were all the same word.) I pulled over to the side of the highway.
It wasn’t until I was climbing into the tow truck that I remembered my grandson’s positive attitude. I consciously turned myself around in my seat to look out the back window and see if I too might be excited by the sight of my car in the air. All I wanted to do was cry. Unable to rejoice, what I DID do was I thanked God. After all, my first mission in L.A. was a most unpleasant one, and my travel crisis was conveniently taking me out of that picture. It would have to be handled without me – thank God.
I was also grateful and thanked God that the expense of getting the car fixed was hitting my budget at the beginning of my fiscal month and not at the end of it when I sometimes could not even afford to replace the plastic lei of flowers that hangs from my rear view mirror.
Well then, if I cannot be excited by my challenges, I can at least be grateful for the graces that are hidden within them. God is good, oh yes, ALL THE TIME.