Thursday, February 12, 2009

History refines humility

In a passionate fit of want, I can rather efficiently discard years of logic and maturity. I might get so blinded by seeing something better than what I’ve got and want it like my entire existence depended on it. It’s especially bothersome when it happens with the bigger ticket items in life--a larger house, a nicer car, a better job--since these things typically aren’t easily exchanged.

But it’s not like I’m completely void of any appreciation for my current possessions in these moments. I mean, I like my house. I dig my car. I…think my job’s ok. It’s just that suddenly the inferiority of what I’ve got is alarmingly obvious—especially when scrutinized for hours on end against the shinny new object of my want, but that’s besides the point. In these instances, I am inconsolably restless until the wretched wrong is righted.

Evidently, you can take the child out of the temper tantrum, but you can’t take the temper tantrum out of the child.

When I’ve slammed against the immoveable wall of “no” (that is usually my wife) enough times, logic is rattled back into place. I remember that what I have isn’t that bad, has lasted us for quite a while and perhaps still has some usefulness about it. Lately, I find that what really calms me down enough to find content and satisfaction with any current belonging is a humility refined by the historical truth that it wasn’t always this good for my wife and me. In fact, not too long ago, we had much less.

Of late, I examine our past and am reminded of a constant and terrifying threat of foreclosure on a property we owned in New York. I am reminded of the beat-up-but-trusty Buick Skylark we owned and how it was good enough to bring our daughter home from the hospital. I remember the apartments we lived in during our Rhode Island stay that were either too cold or too small to comfortably entertain guests, and the good memories we made in them anyway. I remember the horrid string of jobs that we prayed and worked our way out of fueled by the dream that one day, the pay and promise will be better.

I am reminded. And I am humbled.

Suddenly the things we’ve managed to acquire don’t seem so bad. In fact, when scrutinized against a past as opposed to a future, we’re even living like royalty. I now know better than to be so want-minded that I neglect the fact that today, we’re living yesterday’s wishes, hopes and dreams. Indeed, in a hard, squinting glance into the rearview of this road we’re on, history does well to refine humility. We’ll achieve new dreams, live new hopes and grant greater wishes one day in good time. But today, I am happy. I am content.

And I am humbled.

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