pastoral/spiritual care

Squeaky Wheel

I was glad to see literally hundreds of available shopping carts as I recently entered a store.  I grabbed the first one by the door and quickly darted into the store.  About ten feet inside, the cart suddenly shuddered and the right front wheel let out an obnoxious sound, doom-doom skreek!  As quickly as it had started it was over and I plowed ahead.  When suddenly it happened again – a shudder and then doom-doom skreek!  By this time I was a pretty good distance into the store.  I didn’t want to turn around and go back for a new cart, but at the same time I didn’t want to have to put up with these annoying conniptions every ten to twenty feet.

At this point I had an empty cart so it wasn’t a big deal to go get a new one.  Maybe it will stop when I put some things in the cart, I thought, but as the cart began to shudder again I knew I had to do something right away.  I resisted the temptation to steal the cart of a little old lady who had her back turned, went back to the front and got a new one.  I was much happier.

How often do we have situations in life that are like the squeaky wheel of a shopping cart?  And how often do we put up with the noise and aggravation when a solution may be at hand?

Of course, we have to assess the situation.  Granted, it may be a momentary event.  The wheel wobbles wildly for a second or two and then everything straightens out.  We go through the rest of our life without ever having another recurrence or ever giving the situation a second thought.

And sometimes we may see the situation as such a minor event that we can shop right on through life without it bothering us at all.  True, it may not bother us, but people sure look at us funny as we huff and puff to steer the cart through without crashing into things.  It may not bother us, but the noise grates on the nerves of others every time we are near them.  The question is, why put up with something that makes us or others unhappy when change is within reach?

But there are those times when the cart we have is the last one available – there are no other options.  So if I’m going to get the things I need, I just have to make the best of a bad situation.  I anticipate the noise and either ignore it, brace myself for it, or just make the best of it and dance to the sound of it when it happens.

God, thank You for being with us through every phase of our life.  In good times and in bad we know You are there.  May we have the wisdom to see the things in life that must be changed; the strength to alter the things that can be changed; and the grace and patience to endure the things that will not change.  Amen.

-- Chaplain Gerig Huggins

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