Pain is Inevitable. Suffering is Optional.

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beetle (1)We’re having a Monday over here. Big Daddy got calls with work stuff before he made it out the door and I decided that since half of the trash bin was empty I would go to the garage and choose some of the clutter that is the bane of my existence to part with before the trash truck came. When I came inside to start my day, my computer froze up. Then I got a message reminding me that I didn’t take care of a return I should have fixed a week ago. I was embarrassed and frustrated with myself. I don’t want to have a day that goes the way this one started and the good news is that I get to choose where to go from here.

Yesterday, Big Daddy and I watched a YouTube video that has me noodling on what I want to do with my next 50 years and one of the ideas I’ve been thinking about from that video is the fact that suffering comes from self-centeredness.  We’re all going to experience pain–a lost job, a broken heart, a wayward child, an illness…these are part of life and I don’t know anyone who has gotten to skip these challenges but the suffering comes when we make those painful events personal and live and relive the hurt.

I have a pretty clear picture of what that looks like for me.

I used to have a bright and shiny red Beetle to drive and then one day on a trip out of town, my precious Beetle started smoking like crazy and died in Vann, Texas. That’s when the fun began. The tow truck guy had a girl with him that looked to be under-aged and by the way she was hanging on him, I’m guessing that wasn’t his kid. This guy had a breathalyzer on his tow truck and I had to hop in with them while they towed my car to a metal shed that we were calling a mechanic’s shop. There was no way I was leaving my car in that town without being close by (I don’t know what I thought I was going to do), so I found accommodations which in Vann, Texas, meant the Vann Inn. Lemme tell ya, that place was exactly as swank as you’re imagining.

The “mechanic” called me every six hours to tell me that they needed this part and then that part, all of which we had to wait to get delivered from Dallas and none of these efforts were fixing my car. Honestly, I have no idea if they even did any work on it. Every part they ordered cost hundreds of dollars I didn’t have. I was stuck in the Vann Inn eating Dairy Queen for every meal and I was falling apart because I didn’t have a clue what to do. I called my sponsor sobbing, and I wailed, “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME!!?!??”

She very calmly said, “Jennifer, cars break down.”

The pain was that my car was broken down and I didn’t have the means to get it fixed. The suffering was telling myself that the car broke down at me, the dishonest mechanic was punishing me for being me, and I was creating and replaying the fear that I would die alone in the Vann Inn surrounded by Hungerbuster wrappers.

I got the car towed to an honest mechanic who did the best he could but the car died for good not long after. (We think a tech put the wrong oil in it which caused the car to overheat that cracked the engine block.) I left the Vann Inn and within a few months bottomed out financially. I wound up moving in with a friend, took a job as a maid, and made new friends. As a result of the new friends, I joined MySpace and one day I got a message from a guy I knew in high school. That car breaking down put me in the perfect position to fall in love with sweetest man I’ve ever met and when I look back, it seems like all these dominoes fell in this perfect pattern to put me right here in this spot where I’m blessed and am content.

Monday isn’t happening at me, Monday is just happening so I think I’ll see what kind of joy I can cook up today.

Happy Monday y’all!

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