Acceptance, perception, thanksgiving

Jesus tells the story of the woman who lost one of her dowry coins and turns her house upside down to find it.  When she finally discovers it, she goes to all of her friends and neighbors to share her joy in finding the lost coin. 

Yesterday was a beautiful,  clear,  crisp Central Pa. morning.  After a leisurely breakfast, I got in the car to drive to church, only to discover the car key wasn’t in my purse.  Thinking I’d put it in my coat pocket, I went back inside, but no key.  Not too concerned, I decided to walk to church since it was such a beautiful day.  That afternoon, my daughter and  I turned the house,  purse,  and coat pockets upside down and inside out, but still no key. We looked under the car seats.  We looked at every nook and cranny in the car we could think of, and then we’d go do something else.  Periodically, I’d get up and do another search.   Still no car key.   It was a struggle, but somehow I avoided panic. “It’s got to be here,” I  kept telling myself.  “It’ll turn up.  If not,  I’ll call our local mechanic to get another key made.”    Each time I awoke during the night, “ I prayed, “Thanks in advance for helping me find the key.”  

While putting some toast in the toaster this morning, I decided to search the garage one more time.  What if the key fell out of my purse and slid under the car or under some of the shelves that line the garage walls? And there it was…under the car, far enough in that we had not seen it yesterday when we’d looked.  To say I am relieved would be an understatement. In fact, I am awash with relief and gratitude.   

Now I know Jesus was talking about people losing their way and getting tangled up in the spaghetti bowl of life.  Losing a car key does not rate that high on a list of life’s important challenges, but I was still overjoyed, as there was no spare car key.  The other one disappeared years ago.   More than that, I am still a bit stunned that I did not give in to panic.  I came very close at times, but by telling myself it would turn up and that I just needed to step back and allow my brain to do its thing kept me from going over the edge.

Now, while this wasn’t an earth-shaking experience, it certainly documents all of the wisdom behind acceptance as the basis for all quality decision-making.  By accepting the situation without blaming or shaming myself, I was somehow able to face the situation without panic.  Acceptance allowed me to step back enough to look at the situation from several different perspectives, giving me time to recall my steps and listen to my inner voice.  I was confident I would find my key, but if I didn’t, I had a plan. I’d call my mechanic for advice.  there was no need to panic.  After all,  losing the car key was not the end of the world;   Inconvenient, but certainly not the end of the world.   Not when people are being bombed out of their homes,  Not when people are sick, homeless, starving.   Not when there is racial prejudice and violence.  So much depends on our perspective – whether we see our glass as half full or half empty. 

As Paul writes in Philippians, “Rejoice.  I say it again: rejoice.   Show a gentle attitude toward everyone (including yourself.)  Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers, always ask with a thankful heart.  And God’s peace, which is beyond our human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus, our Lord.” 

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