My sister Pam teaches fourth grade in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Last month one of her students was killed in a car accident. The days following the little girl’s death were horrible ones for my sister and her other students. Sadness permeated everything they did, and children often broke into tears. I talked to Pam a few days ago, and she says they still miss the little girl terribly and have times of sadness, but they are doing better.
On Sunday evening, March 19, 1995, my dad went to bed as usual. As far as anyone knows, he never awoke. My mother found him dead beside her the next morning. Her soul mate of over 40 years was gone, and nothing in her life has been exactly the same since. Many years later she still thinks of and misses my dad every single day, but time has eased her grief. She is better now than she was.
In this world where people are determined to have the best, I am thankful for “better.” Sometimes that is as good as it gets. Since the day Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden, some really important elements of life on earth have been corrupted. The effects of sin, disease, and calamity are visited upon everyone. Relationships are damaged, plans are disrupted, and dreams are destroyed every day. We live lives of frustration and disappointment when, determined to achieve best, we fail to appreciate better.
Right now, I am dissatisfied with the condition of the flowerbeds I worked so hard to cultivate last year. A pile of wrinkled clothes is stacked atop my ironing board. I weigh more than I should, my house is not as clean as it could be, my car needs to be washed and vacuumed, I am late in preparing a Bible class lesson, I need to balance two checkbooks, my cat is dying, my kids’ lives are in a state of flux, my husband is exhausted from working a job that gives him little satisfaction, many of the people I love live 500 miles away from me, and I have a new perm. How I wish I could remedy all these distressing situations instantly and completely, but I can’t.
What I can do is make a start on my flowerbeds and ironing; try consistently to eat less and move more; create time to tend to the house, car, lesson, and checkbooks; love on my old cat; encourage my husband and kids; maintain healthy, long-distance relationships with my family members in the South; and wait for my perm to grow out. I can’t make anything perfect, but I can make some things better. And with that, I must determine to be content.
Give it up, friend. You can’t fix the world. If you’re like me, you can’t even figure out which of your three remote controls is for the DVD player. Refuse to be a slave to some dream of perfection that you will never attain this side of Heaven. Learn to be content.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
(This article was written in 2007.)