RICHLAND -- It was not one of my more graceful moments.
I had a stack of fliers to cut in half, and the quickest way I knew to get the job done was to use a paper cutter my wife stored in her sewing room closet.
In my estimation, this cutter was in poor shape, a well-used piece of equipment picked up at a garage sale that was crippled with a dull blade and a missing leg. But it was all I had available.
So I hunted down the cutter, complaining all the way under my breath, "I hope it works better than last time. I hope it doesn't destroy my fliers."
I brought it to my office, improvised a fourth leg, and cut three fliers at once. Success!
"Yay! I'm on a roll." I rejoiced.
I put in five fliers and pulled down the blade. Disaster! The papers were mangled beyond hope. I got upset for even trying, and anger started to well up within. To fix the mess, I manhandled the blade to get the cutter out of its jam and unwittingly gouged a huge chunk of flesh out of my thumb on a sharp edge of the cutter. It hurt something furious.
Now I was really angry.
"I knew I shouldn't have used this cutter. It is a piece of worthless junk!" I cried out loud to no one listening.
Not in my right mind, and anguished over a throbbing finger, an angel thought came to my rescue. A favorite verse from Isaiah popped into my mind; "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." (Isa. 59:19, KJV). The enemy of anger, resentment and pain had come in like a flood and I was drowning. But this verse promised a way out.
I began to wonder what divine standard was available to prevent this kind of suffering. "Gratitude," I thought. I needed to express more gratitude.
If I would have been grateful for the cutter's ability to cut three pieces of paper, and not have expected it to do more, I would have been fine. But I hadn't been grateful. I had been selfish in outlining what I wanted it to do, and then proceeded to force my will on its mechanism. Ingratitude had set me up for failure by blinding my judgment and causing me to make a poor decision that led to painful injury.
It took me a while to fully absorb the message, but once I humbled my pride and felt more gratitude, the bleeding stopped, the pain disappeared, and I was on the mend. I did get my fliers cut properly.
And a valuable spiritual lesson was learned. When you're grateful for what you have and cease complaining about what you don't have, you make wiser decisions and life goes much better. You'll save your thumb from getting bummed too.
-- Evan Mehlenbacher is a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science in Richland, and a member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Pasco.
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