What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise for which we are later,
in the fullness of time and understanding, very grateful!
Like a red velvet curtain descending toward a theater stage, my visual world was being deleted from top to bottom, until it went completely dark. Frantically, I turned in the general direction of our apartment building, and even though I couldn’t see, I started running, hoping I could somehow maneuver my way to a place where I could get help. I had no idea what had just happened, but I knew I was bleeding…
My early childhood years were spent with my family in Riverside, California. We lived there during the regular school term, but for several consecutive summers we would pack a trailer with basic personal and household items and travel to Provo, Utah so my father could pursue a master’s degree at Brigham Young University. Wymount Terrace was the name of the married student housing apartment complex where we lived. It was a community of cloned three-story, cinder block structures with balconies on the second and third floors. We always lived on the first floor because my mother had a difficult time walking due to the effects of polio she suffered as a child.
It was the summer of 1969 and once again I happily moved to Provo with my family. I was seven years old and the eldest child. Like many women of that era, my mother visited the beauty salon weekly to get her hair styled in the trendy bouffant way. On one visit, she thought it would be a cute idea for me to have my hair styled the same way. Being the center of attention in the adult world was never my goal, so I was less than enthusiastic to join in on this mother-daughter field trip.
I was totally embarrassed as I returned back to our apartment building looking like a ‘mini-me’ version of my mother. To avoid getting this moment forever recorded on film, and to distract my mind from focusing on how ridiculous I looked, I bolted for the playground as soon as my mom parked the car. None of my friends were there so to expand my search for someone to play with, I journeyed down the sidewalk in front of the apartment building that mirrored ours—the two separated by a large green space.
Unbeknownst to me, there was a group of children on the 3rd floor balcony having an impromptu ‘show-n-tell’ demonstration involving a glass paperweight. Huddled around the child who was holding it, they were mesmerized by the assortment of coins that looked to be magically suspended inside. Then one of them came up with an idea. “Let’s break it open so we can get the coins out and buy some candy!” Depending solely on child-like logic, they tossed the paperweight off the balcony aiming for the cement sidewalk below. Unfortunately, they had not noticed I was approaching the point of impact and would arrive just as the paperweight shattered. A chunk of glass rebounded off the sidewalk and imbedded itself into my forehead. I immediately felt the sensation of blood cascade down my face and into my eyes.
Despite not being able to see, I turned toward my apartment building and started running, hoping by some miracle I could find my way home. Thankfully, one of our neighbors spotted me as I hysterically stumbled across the green space. He scooped me up in his arms and quickly delivered me to my parents. My dad rushed me to the hospital where I received stitches to close the wound.
Upon returning home, I planted myself in front of the bathroom mirror to visually confirm I had truly survived this scary ordeal. I inspected the huge bandage on my forehead that would serve as my ‘white’ badge of courage for others to notice and ask, “What happened to you?”
Then gradually my vision expanded out from the bandage and revealed the whole image starring back at me. I was happily stunned when I realized my bouffant had not survived the trauma. It was totally destroyed! Praise the Lord!
So what started out as a very bad hair day, that then took an even worse turn with physical injury, ended up with thoughts of relief and gratitude. Perhaps those thoughts of gratitude should have been focused more on the fact the glass had not entered into either of my eyes and I still had full range of vision; or on the fact the children who were responsible did not have to suffer the depth of remorse attached to a more serious outcome.
Regardless of how we feel about our current situations, the important thing is to somehow develop the humility and courage to look at our tribulations and notice any bit of good, no matter how minute. Unlike my experience with a bad hair-day, it may take months, years, decades, or even entrance into the next life to determine the good that comes from our trials, but if we watch and wait long enough, it will eventually come into our view. Our perspective will ever broaden, exposing the previously invisible connections between our past, present, and future.
(Note: To learn more about how to view difficult things in life, see chapter 14, “…But Not This Way,” in my book titled Sacred Soul-Space: Making Room in Your Life for What You Have to Offer This World.)