This morning, I opened an emailed message with an invoice attached. It was quite a bit more than I expected. Quite a bit.
After gasping and panicking and crying for a bit, I made some phone calls and ranted to people who I should have known were powerless to change the situation.
Then, I sent a message to Tim – who left work this morning already dreading the next two weeks while a colleague was on vacation, when Tim would be left to do both of their jobs.
But none of it, not the gasping, panicking, crying, ranting, or sending emotional messages, helped either me or anyone else in any way… although Tim was, as always, loving, reassuring, and practical.
And then I remembered something I’d written quite a while ago when I was preparing a collection of essays on the power of gratitude. I’d like to share it with you today…
FACTS AND FOCUS
The patterns of our days are usually dictated by the seasons of our lives. The age of the children, the position at work, the state of our health, the place we call home – all of these facts and situations influence how, what, when and with whom we live, work and play.
Those seasons of life – child, parent, student, grandparent, breadwinner, retiree, married, single – are rarely subject to negotiation. So, we must purposefully and intentionally decide to adapt to the unexpected or unwelcome if for no other reason than keeping our sanity and a sense of balance.
In the midst of tantrums, long days, and hospital stays far from home (as well as unexpected bills), we can choose to focus in on the blessings, no matter how thin or fragile.
We alone regulate the focus, or, according to Oxford, how we “adapt to the prevailing level of light to see clearly.” We alone make the intentional decision to hold tightly to gratitude, even during the storms, flash floods, and blistering heat.
My husband, Tim, has always been good at managing money. He doesn’t hover over his investments, but he keeps track and makes smart decisions.
Me? I’m a little more cavalier. Some of the choices I made during the years before I married Tim, when money was tight, were a bit more risky than he probably would have liked. But all in all, we were both doing okay when we got married.
And then came tax season – our first joint filing.
The bottom line was that we owed quite a chunk. Tim was puzzled. He reworked the forms, checked his figures and came up with the same bottom line.
Further investigation turned up the fact that my financial advisor may not have had my best interest at heart when he assured me that borrowing from my investments would not hurt my portfolio. His advice was not unethical. But it helped his business profile more than my financial prospects. Please don’t ask me to explain this. I have no idea how these things work, which is probably part of the problem. All I know is that we owed, and Tim was not happy.
I remember exactly where I was standing as Tim’s voice got bigger and louder and more heated. It was the first time I’d seen him that angry. His face was pretty red and “Crook” was the kindest thing he said. He could not believe that someone took advantage of me and got away with it!
But there was no question. We owed the money.
The difference between Tim’s focus and mine, however, was remarkable. Tim was mad as h*&@#%. He had probably never had a balance due on April 15. In fact, he usually got a refund. Oh, good golly, Miss Molly. It wasn’t good.
And I just stood there in tears. But not because I was mad or upset with the advisor. That slippery financial guy’s name didn’t cross my mind.
I just kept saying, “We have the money to pay it.”
I kept thinking, I don’t have to figure out how I’m going to pay this. We had the money. No one was going to call demanding payment or turn off the gas. There would be no red-lined envelopes in the mail. No multiple messages left by collectors with unsmiling voices.
Tim and I had the money we needed to pay this obligation.
It wasn’t easy to make that payment. We did have to make a few adjustments, skip a few things we were planning to do or buy. We juggled the accounts a little and maybe had to borrow from savings.
The fact was, yes, we had to pay. But my focus was, “We have the money to pay it.”
We had the money. Thank you, God.
My lovelies, to be continually aware of the blessings that hide or blend into the background is hard. It takes effort and determination. How much easier it is to lean back and grumble, complain, envy, or resent. It’s so much more difficult to find that sliver of sunlight, just barely and briefly peeking out, especially in the storm.
Life moves at lightning speed. Taking time, as well as that effort and determination, to notice what is good and lovely may seem trivial. But it’s close to impossible to acknowledge the small wonders of the world when close deadlines and overflowing calendars blur our vision.
We need to take it a bit slower, giving us precious opportunities to zoom in and focus on the glory surrounding us every day, everywhere.
The fact is, we miss so much as we rush through our days.
The fact is, we so often miss the chance to see that We have the money to pay it…
– or We have the time to do it.
– or We have the good fortune to enjoy it.
The fact is, we have so much for which to be grateful.