Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Sometimes Tragedy Sets Us Back on Course
This summer I experienced the tragedy of losing my farmhouse to fire. Weeks later, I still grieve, but I also have an immense feeling of being “unpuffed.” An odd description, but perhaps you have felt that way as well.
There is a beautiful passage in Corinthians describing love – it is patient, it is kind; it is not boastful, it is not puffed up. But I think the human tendency is to be the latter – to be bit full of ourselves. Haven’t we all been at some pinnacle of success that fosters that feeling? We work hard for our families, love them greatly, and we finally achieve something to be boastful about. We have two kids, four cars and a canary and we’re pretty pleased with ourselves. We begin to get a little puffed up.
My concordance says the Greek word used means to “puff oneself out like bellows”. Another word would be arrogance. It describes being so full of oneself that we don't accept the help of others and we don't see the needs of others.
It seems that life’s flow usually brings an incident that slaps us with a little reality. Perhaps a job is lost, a child fails in college, or there is a loss of great magnitude. When that happens, we become very quickly “unpuffed,” and at first that feels like the very greatest of physical, emotional and spiritual deflation. We suddenly feel very small and very empty, and perhaps even a little beat up.
A few days after my loss, a good friend helped me put things in perspective. She told me the story of her prized car – one she was exceptionally proud of. One day, her daughters expressed pride as well, and she had to remind them that worldly things are only on loan to us. The same evening the car was stolen and she was the one who struggled to remember the loan. She urged me to remember that the farm house was also on loan.
I love my farm, and perhaps I will rebuild, but first I want to follow my friend’s example and put my attachment in perspective. It is on loan to me, and perhaps even distracts from real purpose in using my hands for others. Real love allows us to be aware of others and their needs and humble enough to accept help that others give to us when we are in need.