Something seems a little off. Our thermostat tells us that the room temperature is 68, but it feels like a chilly 68. A message reading "system malfunction - please call technician for maintenance" confirms that we have a problem with our furnace.
This is the third minor issue in a couple of days. First it was the driver's side windshield wiper that flew off while clearing the wetness from my view. Next we had a problem with the chain connecting the handle to the flush valve on our toilet. And now we're having some difficulty with the furnace. These are just small annoyances, but enough to rouse a little anxiety, especially after a day of consuming higher-priced food and gas and hearing (again) about the impacts of climate change and political upheaval in the Middle East. I've been working on praying about the small things - the things that deep down, I'm not sure really matter to God - and also trying to model this prayer attitude for my children, so I ask them to pray about the furnace.
Natalie's enthusiastic response:
"Dear God, please help us to fix the windshield, and help us to have a good life. Amen!"
I smile. Where does she come up with these ideas?
I ask Natalie what it means to have a good life.
"In a good life, bad things don't happen."
At age 3, Natalie already shares my perspective; often, my thoughts, words, actions, and prayers reflect this view - the view that good is just the absence of bad. Frequently, I make choices in an effort to avoid the bad, but in the process, I think I miss out on a lot of good. When I get stuck there, in that place of being scared of all that in my opinion, is bad, I'm living a life of not doing much of anything at all. And if I don't take action, if I just say no to spending money or potentially offending people or failing at a new endeavor, I may miss opportunities to deepen a friendship, speak the truth, or find a new love.
The good life evokes images of large homes, fancy cars and clothes, impeccable health, career success, educational opportunity, vacations to exotic destinations, and intelligent, well-behaved children. It looks secure and happy. But is a good life truly built upon these things? When I can quiet the urging of TV ads, facebook, and even my own misguided thinking, I discover that the good life must include some bad things to actually be...good. Who can resist the wonder that rises up inside upon hearing stories of a reconciled relationship, a homeless man now able to provide for his own financial needs, a drought-stricken community that now has clean water, a back-of-the-pack runner who wins her race? Are all of these reasons enough to make me wish for the bad? I'm not there yet (i.e. I really want my warm house back without needing to pay a service technician!). But remembering this makes me feel open to the possibility that something good can be birthed from something that, upon first glance, has the appearance of something bad.
This blog was birthed out of some decisions made after an experience with our old, broken-down dishwasher. And I love what's been happening in me as a result of this blog. Writing is so life-giving to me. Like a tall glass of cold water after the longest marathon training run on the hottest summer day; right now, it's exactly what I need. Thank goodness for the possibilities and opportunities presented by the broken.
What thoughts come to mind when you dream about the good life? Is it a life that feels distant or unattainable, or could it be that the life you're living right now - the one that includes the monotony of laundry and snotty-noses, or the struggle of caring for aging parents, or the never-ending deadlines - is actually the good life? Have you seen something good, or even life-changing, result from a difficult situation? I'd love to hear from you!