I took my car in to get the oil changed today. It was early morning as my oldest gets on the bus at 7:15 a.m. I am not a morning person. At all. Up to this point in his school career, school start times have always been nine or later, so getting up and out the door by 7:15 is a huge adjustment for both of us. (He is not a morning person either. We may or may not be a little crabby with each other on some mornings.) One nice perk to the early start time is that I now have an extra 2 hours in the morning between the time he leaves and when I take my youngest to school to get things done. Things like taking the car to get the oil changed. We take our cars to a Mr. Tire not too far from our house. I was the first customer there this morning, so I got right in. Turns out my Volkswagen needs a special oil filter, so the owner had to call to another shop nearby to get one, and it ended up taking a little longer because of this. I have always enjoyed talking to the owner. He is a very nice man and has some great life stories. Today was somewhat of an exception since, as I said, it was early, and I’m not the best at carrying on conversations at that time of day. I was anticipating just sitting quietly and catching up on Facebook while we waited for said filter to arrive. Alas, it was not to be, and he started talking. In the end, I’m glad he talked. I learned that he is one of 7 kids, and that all the people in his family play an instrument. His sister was a musical prodigy and could play the piano without lessons at the age of 4 because she could just hear the music in her head. He and his brother were in a rock band together for many years. He even played me a rock song that his brother wrote and performed. Check this out! He played it quite loudly for me. He told me that his mother taught him that all men should know three things: How to cook; how to sew a button on and how to do laundry. I guess I hit the trifecta, because I married a man who can do all three of those things. I must say, it is a blessing. The best part of the morning though was when he told me about his philosophy on life. He said that hard times had been his companion for a lot of his life. His wife had been sick and he had faced struggles with owning his own business and making ends meet. In the midst of that, he said he lived his life by this Proverbs: A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22). He chose joy in life’s circumstances. It was such a great reminder. I can choose the filter through which I view life. I can filter it through resentment and anger or I can filter it through joy and choose to be grateful. I lived a lot of years with resentment being my constant companion, and my soul was dry. A joyful heart really is good medicine. It was so nice to get that reminder from this random person that I only see when I get my oil changed. I knew my car would be getting a new filter, but I had no idea that I would be getting the filter of my life checked as well. It was a good early morning and I am grateful I didn’t miss it.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
I have found myself in the arena over the past two years quite a bit, and I have the battle scars to prove it. I have had the desire to write about my experiences for some time, but have held back because I’m not a creative person. I’m also not a writer. And I’m scared to put myself out there. I’ve been camped out in the entrance to the arena for months now, trying to work up the nerve to go in again. The excuses are a mile long, but if I keep letting them get the best of me, this unused creativity will burn a hole in my soul. So, this is me, daring greatly and stepping into the arena once again.