Things Could Always Be Worse

Things Could Always Be Worse

“Friend, I am not cheating you! Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?”

You’ve been working for this landscaper for five summers now. You’re going back to school in a few weeks and you’ve asked for extra hours. The owner assures you he will do what he can. But one day a new guy shows up and starts work — and the pos­sibility of your working extra hours is out. “Guy’s wife just got laid off,” your boss says, introducing him. “I’m trying to help him and his family by taking him on for a few hours a week.” So much for loyalty, you think.

The task of taking care of your elderly parent falls pretty much on you. Your brothers and sisters live a distance away. They all call from time to time to see how Mom is doing and express their concern, but none of them are in any position to provide the necessary day-to-day help. “They all have problems of their own,” Mom says, “I just thank God for you.” Then mom dies and they all show up, grieving as if they’ve been there all along. And of course, Mom’s estate is divided equally “because I love all my children just the same— even though it’s your life that’s been turned upside down and you’ve borne the costs of caring for her. Though you would never say it, you seethe: It’s not fair. And you’re right. Continue reading

Difficulty is Part of the Gift

Difficulty is Part of the Gift

“Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are you He who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

One Christmas a boy in a remote far away village gave his teacher an exquisite seashell as a gift. He had walked many difficult miles over treacherous terrain to find it, to a special bay, the only place such shells could be found.

The teacher was quite moved by the boy’s gift, and understood where it had come from and the difficulty involved in obtaining it: “What a beautiful shell. You must have walked many difficult and dangerous miles for it. I am deeply grateful for your gift,” the teacher said. Continue reading