My An Arkie's Faith column from the July 27, 2022, issue of The Polk County Pulse.
The morning was hot as the radiant heat of summer permeated my shop. The temperature was already in the nineties, and sweat ran down my face. The unusual heat wave with unending 100-degree days was wearing me out. As I wiped the sweat out of my eyes, the phone rang for what seemed like the hundredth time today. "Richie's," I said, and the voice on the other end of the line asked about a windshield and back glass for their car.
I took down the information and scheduled a time to put the glass in their Ford Crown Victoria. When the customer brought the car in, I started by cleaning out the broken glass and preparing to install the back window. I placed the new back window on a stand, ready to prep it for installation. As I looked at the glass, it didn't look correct. Sure enough, when we held the new glass up to the opening in the car, it wasn't nearly tall enough. "What is going on," I wondered.
When I checked out the part number of the new glass, I discovered that I had ordered the wrong year model. I tried to order the correct glass from my supplier and found that they didn't have one at the Little Rock warehouse. I wasn't surprised, as I often must order glass from out of state. But as I checked each warehouse I could order from, I found that no one had the glass. I searched online and could not find a new back glass for the Crown Victoria anywhere.
I started searching for a used back glass. I found a wrecking yard in Fort Smith that showed one online, but when I called them, they said they didn't have one. Next, I called a company in Moffat, Oklahoma. They had one, but the owner said he was having trouble finding any help, and there was no one to remove the glass from the car. The closest place I could locate the glass I needed was in North Little Rock. The only problem was that I would have to drive there to pick it up.
I cleared my schedule for Friday morning and left my house before 5 to be at the wrecking yard when they opened at 8. They had promised me they would have the glass out. But after driving three hours, I arrived and found that they had not removed the glass the day before. I had to wait almost an hour.
I was frustrated as I drove back to Mena. I had jobs scheduled, and now I would be an hour late getting back to work. But my frustration level went through the roof when I made it back to the shop and found that they had given me the wrong glass. What was I going to do now? I had spent seven hours and driven 300 miles using fifty dollars' worth of gas. And now I had to make another call to the customer and tell them that I wasn't sure when I would be able to complete the job.
Almost a week later, I finally got the correct glass and delivered the Grand Victoria to the customer. When you are in business, there will always be days when things go wrong. There will be days that cost you money instead of making money. In the past, I had become very agitated when stuff like that happened. But I discovered that being upset didn't change anything except that it made me unhappy. Frequently I let my circumstances determine my attitude. But I now realize I can choose my attitude towards circumstances instead of allowing circumstances to control my attitude.
We often think that our situation controls our emotional responses. When we experience adverse circumstances, we believe we have no choice but to react to them. We become upset and unhappy. Any other response seems impossible. But we can choose not to get upset by circumstances that usually would have aggravated us. To succeed, we must remember that we have a choice and be deliberate about our reactions.
As I matured, I realized that I never change my circumstances by getting upset. I only make myself unhappy and often spread that unhappiness to the people around me. Being happy is a choice. We choose every day whether or not to let our day's worries, problems, and circumstances get us down. If we decide that we will be happy no matter the circumstances, we will enjoy life more.
In Philippians 4:11 (NIV), Paul said, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." The fundamental thought here is that Paul learned, and we can also learn that being content does not mean that you have no hopes or desires; it means being willing to let God teach you no matter what your circumstances are at the moment. Happiness and contentment do not come from things.
Once we accept the truth that trouble is inevitable, it's not such a shock when trials do come. They may catch us off-guard, but when we know they are a part of life, they lose much of their power to make us unhappy. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) gives us more insight into how we can be content and happy. "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
Gentle Reader, would you characterize yourself as content? Or do you feel you could be content if only one or two things were changed? How many of us have convinced ourselves that we would be satisfied if only we had a bit more money, a little less stress, or a better relationship? But Jesus says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled]," John 14:27 (AMPC). When difficult circumstances come our way, we should say, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." Psalm 23:1 NKJV)