Often life is a dance—a three-step, where you take two steps forward, then one step back. I’ve been trying to think how many people I have met in my life to date: I don’t have an exact number but I do know it’s in the thousands.
I’m still waiting to meet the person whose life is so charmed they have no crises or challenges or issues to deal with, ever.
I am a person who has had many of the above, and what I have learned is this. When we do have these crises, these challenges that spring seemingly from nowhere, there are almost always two things that can be said about them. The first is that they didn’t really spring from nowhere. If you look back far enough, you can see a root cause, an action taken or not taken that contributed to the situation you are now in. And the second is that every challenge is an opportunity in disguise. It’s an opportunity for you to grow as a person.
I can recall our being so broke that every single day began with the prayer, “Lord, please do not let anything go wrong today”. Fortunately for us, God’s answer most days was, “okay”. But there were a few, “no, you need this bump. There’s something I want you to learn.”
Last Thursday, when I was sitting at my computer, in the peace and quiet of an empty house, I noticed that the inside temperature wasn’t quite what it should be. I don’t mind donning a sweater, and I often do just that before I will ever turn up the thermostat. But on this occasion I looked at my thermostat. It was set pretty high, probably over 80, but the temperature inside registered just barely 65.
I couldn’t recall when the furnace had come on last, so I listened as I went back to my writing. I heard it come on, run for about a minute or so, and then go off. My first thought was that the thermostat wasn’t working right. And then, when I smelled a funny odor that reminded me of exhaust, I realized that maybe, there might be something else not right.
On Friday when I brought my husband home from the airport (his flight came in at 0630), we had breakfast and then a nap. The furnace came on and yes, that odor was still present. I asked David about it and he told me that he didn’t really know anything about the furnace. So when I got up again, I contacted the company from whom we bought the appliance. We rent our hot water heater from them, and have a service contract on the furnace, as well. It was late when I left the message.
The next morning I got a call from them asking me to open a window for cross ventilation, and telling me they were alerting the gas company. Good thing they did. I never thought about a carbon monoxide leak, because I know that gas is odorless; however, apparently sometimes when a furnace leaks that toxic material, there are other substances in the emission, too, and those substances stink. Again, lucky for us.
Also lucky for us, our house is nowhere near air tight.
The gas company turned off the furnace, and the repair man showed up. It took him a while but he discovered that the secondary heat exchanger was shot. The part had to be ordered, and so we would be without heat until Tuesday. Good news? We bought this furnace 10 years ago and major parts are covered under the 25 year warranty we had. Bad news? The labor isn’t covered, and that was going to run us over a thousand dollars.
Ouch. But unlike when we were starting out in life, saying that daily prayer, we’re a little smarter financially than we used to be. And while that chunk of change does hurt, it’s not panic time. And because it is not panic time, we don’t have the added stress of wondering how the hell we’re going to manage to pay that repair bill.
We could pay it, and we did, and as of 4 pm yesterday afternoon, the furnace is back at work, keeping us warm.
Another challenge faced and this time met successfully. But only because, in times past, some challenges that we faced, and struggled with, did not end in success, but in failure.
And we learned, and we grew.