Have you ever done something backwards or sideways? You did everything according to directions, but it just didn’t work out the right way?
Many years ago, dad and mom visited us in New Mexico. The first thing that came out of dad’s mouth was, “Eugene, get me a compass, and mount it on the dash board!”
“What’s up, dad?”
“Dad turned the….” Mom started to tell me the traveling woe, but dad cut in.
I laughed about it, but dad forgave me. He knew I wasn’t mocking him. Then I reminded him of what he taught me: laughing at our mistakes is less painful than getting upset.
“I’ll tell my own goofy story, Verna.” And in an aggravated mood, dad told me how in Arizona, he followed the map exactly as planned. But he didn’t know that, at one point while mom was napping, he had the map sideways and drove north for an hour when he should have gone east. “I don’t like going the wrong direction, and I lost two hours. Let’s go get that compass – now, before I forget.”
Another time, I was overseeing a building renovation project. One of our electricians was new in the electrical field, and was perplexed. “I don’t get this.” he exclaimed. “It just doesn’t look right.”
I reviewed his drawing, then looked at the wall he was wiring. “Joe, you’re looking the wrong way. Turn around, and check it out.”
Joe turned, looked at the wall, looked at the print, looked back to the wall, uttered a few unrepeatable words, then said, “Sorry man.”
“You’re okay, Joe. I’m glad you stopped to get help. It’s always easier to ask for help than to correct an error.”
I’ve made directional mistakes, too. In January of 2015, Carol and I visited my brother and his wife in Lakeland, Florida. One afternoon we went sight-seeing in another town. On the way back to Lakeland late at night, I made a wrong turn. Getting off at the next exit, I made what I thought was the correct turn. But it put me back on the same highway – going the same direction. I tried three times, and got the same results. I didn’t know the freeway layout, and just couldn’t seem to get it right.
I started to get aggravated and ask Carol if I would ever get off this road. But dad’s words came back to me: it’s less painful to laugh than to get upset. So, seeing the humor in it, I began to laugh. Then the words of a song by the Kingston Trio in 1959 came to mind, and I began singing the chorus. It was about a man who didn’t have money to get off the subway in the Boston mass transit system.
“Did he ever return? No, he never returned, and his fate is still unlearned.
He may ride forever ‘neath the streets of Boston as the man who never returned.”
Carol began laughing with me, and we eventually found our way back to Lakeland.
Well, I found out that I still make directional mistakes. Our television developed a problem, so we bought another one – an inexpensive 32-inch flat screen. I programmed it and made sure everything worked properly. But it wouldn’t change channels when I pressed the channel button.
I contacted the company, and they gave me some information. Situation solved … or so I thought. It still wouldn’t change channels.
Carol, my wonderful helper, said, “You did something wrong.”
It may not surprise you to know that husbands don’t like to hear those words. They may be true, but we still don’t like to hear them.
After talking with an expert in the field, I realized that the remote controller couldn’t talk with the television because I had the receiver box pointing the wrong way. My precious was right: I did something wrong. With a pink face accompanying a bit of embarrassment, I turned the box around and the system worked perfectly.
Sometimes we humans face problems in life because we are emotionally turned the wrong way. We might be stubborn, arrogant, or ignorant, and won’t listen to wise counsel. Instead of correcting the situations, we compound the situation and make things worse.
But if we relax, let go of our pride, and seek counsel, God will help us figure things out. Gaining wisdom as we study the Psalms in the Bible can enable us to adjust our attitude, then the Lord can guide us. The Psalms and Proverbs are loaded with wisdom. Start there.
And if you ever find yourself facing the wrong way, turn around at the earliest opportunity, but don’t get upset. Laugh about it. Laughing is less stressful – for everyone.