Monday, April 14, 2014

Blessings in Disguise

            I did a very stupid thing the other day.  (Technically, I did this on April 19, but I am posting it for today to get it in before the last post.)  And, of course, I just have to share it. 
            I had just said good-bye to my husband and sons as they left for a store.  Since they were going to a really boring store – the kind of store that makes me groan and wish I were someplace else - I decided to stay home.  I was going to do a little gardening all by myself.  And it would be a peaceful, relaxing hour without anyone around.  But as they pulled away,

I thought, Should I go with them?  What if something happens to them while they are out?
            I even called out to my husband as he pulled away, “Are you sure you don’t need me to go with you?”  In a way, I wanted to be with them in case they needed me.  In case someone got hurt or lost at the store.  (I’m a bit of a worrier like that.)  But I preferred to spend some time home alone.  And I really don’t like dragging four kids around boring stores while my husband looks at boring things.  And so I was relieved when he said, “No, I’ve got it covered.  You stay home and enjoy your time alone.”
            About a minute after they pulled away, I was trying to hang up a stupid, little, $1, plastic wind-chime.  I was standing on a log and reaching through the side of the trellis to hang it on the outer most rung at the top of the trellis.  Just as I got it into place, the log slipped out from under me and I landed on the ground on my feet.  But as I stood there with my arm still stuck in the trellis side, I knew something was wrong.  I thought I had reached through one of the diamond-shaped holes on the trellis side and that the bottom of my upper arm was being pinched in the bottom of the diamond.
            Man, this really hurts!  Why is it hurting so bad?  Something’s not right!, I thought as I pulled my arm out of the trellis side.  I had no idea what was hurting so bad as I struggled to take my flannel shirt off so that I could check under my arm.  And when I did, I saw a 3/4-inch-wide, gaping gash with fat bulging out.  It was then that I realized that I hadn’t put my arm through a diamond, but through a spot that had a decorative “dagger” that was over an inch long and pointed up.  So when I slipped off the log, my arm was impaled on the “dagger.”  And that’s why I couldn’t get my arm out easily.   
            Barely a minute after they left!  Stupid log!  Stupid trellis!  Ouch!  Ouch!  Ouch!  And all for a stupid, dollar-store decoration.  As I examined the hole in my arm, I began to panic a little.  Hospital or not?  Emergency room for stitches or treat it myself?  Call husband or wait for him to get home?  And in my panic, I began to feel a little woozy, so I laid down on the couch for a few minutes.
            My initial biggest fear was that I might have punctured that main artery that runs along the underside of my arm.  But when I saw that I was barely bleeding, I realized that I had missed it.  And I thanked God profusely that I wasn’t going to bleed to death.  (Thankfully, since my arm was nearly pointing up to the sky as I fell off the log, the dagger punctured along under the skin instead of stabbing straight into my arm where it would have punctured through muscles and arteries.  That would have been much worse.)
            My next fear was of infection.  The end of the dagger had gone over an inch into my arm, so I did what I could to squeeze some of the blood out of the wound to clean out any debris.  And I washed the open hole as best I could.  And then I tried to call my mom (who is a nurse) to get her opinion on if I should go to the hospital or not.  But I couldn’t get a hold of her.
            By this time, I was calming down.  And I figured that I was pretty safe in just treating it at home, as long as I kept an eye out for infection.  (Of course, if this happened to my kid, I’d be at the doctor’s in a heartbeat.  But since it was me . . . well, I’m pretty resistant to go to the doctor unless I absolutely have to.)  And, of course, I prayed a lot that God would let it heal okay or give me the wisdom to go to the ER.  I prayed that God would have my mom call me and either confirm my plan of action or encourage me to go to the doctor.
            Over an hour later, Jason came home with the new antibiotic ointment and the butterfly bandages that I asked him to get when he called home to check in.  I had told him that I “did something stupid” and asked him to go to the store and get those things for me.  And while he was applying them to my arm, my mom called.  And she agreed that I could treat it at home as long as I had antibiotic and butterfly bandages.  So that’s just what I did.  Thank You, God, for that confirmation!  It puts my mind at ease.           
            Later that day, I was thinking about the whole episode.  I was thinking about how I hadn’t wanted to go to the store because I knew I’d be bored.  And yet, if I had just gone with them, I wouldn’t have impaled myself and lost my peaceful hour after all.  But the thing is, I wouldn’t even have realized what a blessing that “boring store” would have been.  All I would have done was grumbled in my head and wished I were somewhere else.  But if I had known that the other option – staying home – meant impaling myself on the trellis, I would have been happy and content in the boring store, knowing that it was actually a blessing in disguise.    
            And that’s when it dawned on me . . . How many other times do I grumble about where I am or what I am doing or about some inconvenience or interruption, never even considering that maybe it was a blessing in disguise?  If God granted me and my family safety during some boring visit to some boring place, do I consider it a blessing or do I just wish I were anywhere else?  Maybe, in God’s wisdom and graciousness, it was the better path?  Maybe the other path – the thing that I wish I were doing instead – would have resulted in something terrible or in an lesser blessing or had less impact for God’s Kingdom?
            The thing is, we can never know where the other path would have led.  And we often end up having a rosy view of the path we missed out on, always thinking it would have been better than the path we took.  But maybe it wouldn’t have been.  Maybe the path we took – even if it was not our preference – was a blessing in disguise. 
            Maybe the detour that we had to take while driving prevented us from being in the path of a drunk driver?  Yet we fail to thank God for the safe drive on the detour because we are so full of road rage and frustration about the “inconvenience” and the time “wasted.”
            Maybe the phone call that interrupted our peaceful time at home spared us some accident that we were heading toward or maybe it led to a blessed moment that meant something important to us or the caller?  Yet all we think about is our bitterness that our nice, peaceful hour was ruined. 
            Maybe the boring store that we went to with the family actually was a blessing because it kept us from shish-kabobbing our arm on a trellis?  Yet all we would have been aware of was our discomfort, our boredom, and our desire to be somewhere else. 
            Do we even realize how many “near accidents” there have been in our lives?  How many blessings in disguise there have been?  Do we consider every safe day “a blessing,” even if it was boring or uneventful or not what we wanted to be doing?  Or do we gripe about the inconvenience or the interruption and get bitter that things didn’t go our way?
            After this event, I decided that no matter where I was (even if I preferred to be somewhere else), I would consider it a blessing if God granted us safety that day or unexpectedly allowed us to be a blessing to someone else.  I will do my best to be happy and content wherever I am, whatever I am doing, because it may just be that the path I ended up on (even if I ended up there reluctantly) is the better path, the one that leads to protection, more blessings, or being used by God to reach others.
            I didn’t like impaling my arm (and thankfully it’s healing nicely), but I do like the way God used this incident to teach me a lesson in thankfulness and contentment.  I know that I will have a much different attitude from now on when I am somewhere boring or when I face an inconvenience. 
            I am sure that I will be humbled someday in eternity to find out just how many times God has protected me or used me to be a blessing to others without me even knowing it.  And I’m sure it will be during many of those times that I grumbled about on earth, simply because I didn’t think of them as blessings or see them from an eternal perspective.  But I don’t want to wait until eternity to realize or acknowledge God’s graciousness, providence, wisdom, and protection.  I’m going to start now, with the interruptions, inconveniences, and the boring times.  Thank You, God, for all the blessings in disguise!