Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Accepting The Unchangeable

"Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee."
Job 22:21

Remember the Serenity Prayer?
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference."
 Written by Reinhold Niebuhr

We have been in the process of making preparations
to accommodate one of the miracles God recently worked out for us.
After over two years of long, worrisome nights,
Kevin will soon be working completely from home!
What a totally-unexpected,
unprayed for,
unrequested blessing of all blessings.

You know, it was not something I would have even thought to ask God for.
Who would have even imagined that this was a remote possibility?
His boss just asked him one day,
out of the blue,
how he would feel about working from home.
They are so great to work for...
very employee-oriented and caring.
They recently implemented big changes that paved the way for this to happen.
I see God's fingerprint all over it.
They are also concerned over security issues,
and they mentioned the long drive he has to make to and from work...
at all hours of the night and morning.
Hence, this decision...
to make him this incredible offer.

So, the past few weeks have been spent in a flurry around here...
making preparations,
getting everything lined up,
setting up a home office,
and anxiously anticipating the happy day!

I am still in shock....
over God's goodness
and how much He cares about the affairs of our lives.
It hit me that He sees it all.
Every, minute detail.
The worried, sleepless nights..
waiting for Kevin's call to say, "I'm leaving",
then, not resting easy from that moment
until I hear the sound of his key in the front door.

I usually sleep in the living room these days.
Especially, if he will be gone most of the night.
The recliner I sleep in is facing the wall that is opposite the street.
In between winks of sleep, here and there,
I watch for two lights...
at the very top of the wall...
near the ceiling...
shining in through the two windows in our living room...

The lights appear when Kevin pulls into our driveway,
and they remain there while he gets out to open our gate,
and get back in the car.
It is then, and only then,
that I can relax...
and breathe a huge sigh of relief.
I always turn my face heavenward
and praise the One Who watched out for him....
once again.

There have been untold perils.
Deer, who seem to be filled with extraordinary courage...
(or do they have a death wish??:~) at that hour of the night,
trees that have fallen and completely blocked the road,
hard storms with pounding rain,
an oncoming car, obliviously headed straight towards him in his lane,
scary encounters with strangers....
just to name a few that quickly pop into my head.
You never know what you will run into...
walking out of the bank at 4:00 am...
and driving home on back, country roads.

I never thought to ask God to change anything.
It never even occurred to me.
I didn't have to.
He bestowed the unsaid desires of my heart.
Prayers unprayed....
yet answered just the same.
How I love and praise Him!
He is an awesome God...
in every sense of the word.

One of the things we needed to take care of,
to make this possible,
was to secure a much faster internet connection speed.
So, I made the phone call to our internet service provider,
which is also our local phone company.
I didn't ask for any changes, other than to increase our internet speed.
That's it.
The very helpful, over-eager rep on the other end of the phone
assured me that it was all taken care of,
and we could expect our speed to increase by the end of the day.
I thought nothing more of it,
and was happy to have one more thing on the list taken care of.

A couple of days later,
a few people commented that when they called our number
they were unable to leave a message,
because our voice mail wasn't working.
I figured our mailbox must be full,
so decided to take the time to delete some saved messages.
Nothing could have prepared me for what I discovered when I picked up the phone.
I stood there, stunned,
phone in hand,
as the implications of harsh reality washed over me like a tidal wave.
Our voice mail messages were gone.
Our voice mail greeting was gone.
Our voice mailbox was gone...
just gone...
like it had never been.

It absolutely could not be.
This was not happening!
Messages from Mom were on there.
I could listen to them...
whenever I needed to hear her reassuring voice.
There were two, in particular,
that comforted me beyond words.
One was from a time I was sick.
The other was during a time Zach was sick.

There is no one like your Mom...
especially when you are sick.
Whenever I needed to hear a message....
personally to me...
from Mom...
all I had to do was pick up the phone and play the messages back.

Now they were gone.

This may seem trivial to those who have never experienced such as this,
it may seem insignificant and unimportant....
but to me...
it was absolutely devastating.
Someone made of tougher stuff
could have probably just shrugged it off
and bounced back a lot quicker.
it just about did me in...
there for a few days in December.

Without boring you with all of the details,
CenturyLink has tried everything imaginable to mankind
to get those messages back for me.
At the end of talking to no less than nine people,
maybe more...that's all that readily comes to mind....
including correspondence with the CEO, Glen Post,
the result is the same.
For reasons unknown to anyone I've talked to,
the rep who increased our internet speed
took it upon himself to remove our voice mailbox,
and delete all of our saved messages.
"Why did he do that?
It had absolutely nothing to do with the reason for my phone call",
 I have asked over and over.
No one understands why.
If Mom's messages hadn't been saved on there,
this wouldn't have bothered me nearly as much.
They easily re-installed a voice mailbox.
Things are pretty much as they were...
before I made that infamous phone call.
But, Mom's personalized messages...
just for me...
are gone.

I have cried...
and cried...
and cried.
I have begged.
I even got on my knees and prayed with all my might during one phone call,
when my problem was escalated to the executive complaint department.
I was on hold...
practically holding my breath...
while a very sweet, empathetic guy named Chadwick
did his utmost to move Heaven and earth...
to figure out a way to get those messages back for me.
Bless his heart,
he went way over and beyond the call of duty.
I let the CEO know about it, too.

After doing all he possibly could,
he came back to the phone with the same dreaded news as all of the others.
There is nothing they can do.
They are incredibly and deeply sorry...
but at the end of the day,
the messages are gone...
never to be retrieved or restored.

It isn't like I can replace them, either.

No amount of crying or praying is going to make a change in this situation.
There are just certain things in this life that cannot be fixed.
They are what they are.
I can come up with a million questions and "if onlys"....
if only our internet speed would have been sufficient....
if only the guy wouldn't have hit the wrong button...
if only CenturyLink had a back-up system....
if only they stored saved messages somewhere to accommodate this type error....
if only they had implemented a plan for people who wanted their messages back....
if only...
if only...
if only.

I'll admit, I wallowed in "if only" valley for a few days.
Every time I thought of it, I felt near-sick to my stomach...
a fresh stab of pain darted through me....
like I had been punched right in the gut.

One day, God brought the Serenity Prayer to my mind.
He sent the needed "wisdom to know the difference".
He opened my eyes to see that this was something I could not change.
No matter what I did.
He allowed this to happen.
He saw it happening.
Nothing surprises Him.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28

Even this.
I'll be honest,
I really didn't see the good...
any good...at all...
at first.
I just wanted my messages back.
I wanted to hear Mom's voice.

But, I think I got some insight...
after I released it to God.
After I struggled for days,
then finally tossed it into the
"Accept the things I cannot change" pile.

God wants me to let go of the past.
And though He knew how much I cherished those messages...
hearing Mom's concern...
hearing her say,
"Cheryl, this is Mom.
I'm praying for you, honey.
I hope you feel better.
Call me when you can",
He wants me to move on.
To let go.
To cherish the memories,
but leave the past where it is.

I can't change what happened.
But, I can accept it.
By the serenity that comes through God's amazing grace,
I can accept the unchangeable.

The sooner I did that,
the better I felt.
I'll admit, it took me a while...
several days.
I won't say it doesn't still hurt...
when I think of it.
But, I don't go all to pieces.
I don't feel that heart-wrenching,
tortured feeling anymore.

As sad as it is,
I have accepted that it cannot be changed.

And in the midst,
I praise God...
from the bottom of my heart....
for the amazing gift of Kevin working from home.

Mom would have been so happy to hear this.
She used to stay awake at night, too...
praying for Kevin...
trusting God to keep him awake under the wheel
and bring him safely home.

She wouldn't want me to mourn her lost messages,
while God is doing such amazing things for us.
In my mind,
I still hear her voice...
encouraging me,
telling me to press on,
to keep the faith.
It is my highest goal to do just that.

How about you, my friend?
Anything unchangeable you are struggling with?
Wishing it could be different?
But, no matter how hard you wish,
you know in your heart, it never will be?
My heart goes out to you so deeply.
I feel your pain.
I wish a thousand wishes that I could change it for you.
I can only pray that somehow you come to a place of acceptance....
that you reach the point of letting it go....
and the willingness to move on.
There are no time limits.
No one can force you to get there.
But, God can help you.
He can grant you the serenity.
I trust with all my heart it happens soon...
for you.
That the release will be complete...
and permanent...
so you can go forward.

I found peace.
I pray you find it, too.

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