I worked a funeral today. I did the incense, which is my favorite job.
I have a tendency to make things "All About MEEEEEE".
I promise. I'm going to tie those two polarizing thoughts together. Pinky swear.
I'm not going to go in to the specifics of what happened. Suffice to say - it involved a container that held extra charcoal briquets that was supposed to be metal but had been inexplicably switched for plastic, sparks that went unnoticed, lots of smoke, cinders, fumbling blistered fingers, carpet, a table top, a speedy exit from the back entrance of the church that so thankfully went unnoticed by the mourning family, sobbing apologies in front of people who didn't quite know how to handle the stoic Carmen crying -
And my TARGET card - which was the only thing that I could grab from my purse to help me try to salvage the disaster and quell the oncoming rush of trouble.
I KNOW. My TARGET CARD. SOB.
After the entire debacle had been discussed ad nauseum and I had beaten myself about the head and shoulders for several hours, I got up the nerve to explain what had happened yet again to the big one, the man in charge. To say I was nervous would have been like saying the ocean is a drop of water. I mean, for real - the table is burnt, the carpet is messed up - it was a mess. but thankfully, well received.
The next person I called was an older woman who serves with me, who had been absent that day.
She's one of the women whose company I enjoy most, and I love to bounce ideas off of her. I greatly admire her – in fact, I hope to be like her if I ever grow up. I explained to her what happened, and I said, for probably the third time, "I wish God wasn't trying so hard to teach me humility".
I really think that's why I was called to do funeral ministry. In my mind, I don't think I'm a very humble person, and it seems to me that I make a lot of mistakes in funeral ministry. I really think that God is using this to teach me to be humble.
When I shared this with my friend, she snapped, "Don't be ridiculous. It's not all about you."
I was taken aback. What did she mean? I made an enormous mistake, right? Involving FIRE, for cripes sake.
She continued - "You didn't make a mistake. It was an accident. The mistake was made by whoever exchanged a metal box for a plastic one. You did make one mistake, though. You made this all about you - your troubles, your diffculties. What happens to you isn't always meant for you. We may be playing a part in someone else's life. It's not always a lesson for you. Maybe we are teaching someone else something about their life, or helping someone else in some way that we can't see."
When she said these things, they were so profound that I
stopped what I was doing – in this case washing dishes as I talked on the
phone – and had her repeat them. Then I had her hold on while I got a
pencil and paper, and I wrote them down.
I'm going to repeat the key part – What happens to you isn't always meant for you.
She's a deeply spiritual person, so this whole train of thought was a little startling to hear from her. She continued "We're so busy thinking "How did I screw it up? What is God trying to teach me here? How can I improve? What are my lessons? I have to be perfect. I need to work harder."
She continued, "It's not about us. We are a cog in a kaleidoscope. One day, we will see the real picture, the whole picture – and sometimes, in our lives, we are fortunate to see that. But it doesn't always happen. What happened to you today was an accident, and it was a teaching moment, but it may not have been a teaching moment for you. You may have been a conduit to teach something to someone else, or to be there as a separate situation unfolded. You are too hard on yourself. Let it go. It's not about you."
It was an eye-opening conversation. Something I've pondered for several hours now, and something that has deeply affected the way I think.
What happens to you isn't always meant for you.
Mind = blown.