When Bad Things Happen

It doesn’t take more than a minute of watching the news to be convinced that bad things happen every day. And most of the time, we’re accepting of this fact. Until the storm hits us.
In the case of my home state, fires are ravaging the scenic Columbia River Gorge. People I know have been displaced and might lose everything they own if the hungry flames aren’t stopped.


In the case of Texas, it was a hurricane named Harvey. That cruel man dumped a year’s worth of rain in a hour. Needless to say, things were swept away.


In the case of America, there have been shootings and attacks against innocents. This used to be the signature move of terrorists, but these days it seems anyone can get involved.


In every event, people affected by the fallout want to point a finger of blame.
Why is that? Will it make the bad things go away? If the guilty parties cough up whatever restitution deemed appropriate by the victims, will it change anything that has happened?
I’m a proponent of justice. Hello? Wonder Woman is an icon on this blog for a reason.


But sometimes unjust things happen and no one is to blame.
Can we truly blame the hurricane on someone?
Maybe those who ascribe to global warming will say these increasingly severe storms are in direct correlation with that.
I believe God is the Creator and Master of the universe. Does that mean he’s to blame for the severe weather and its damaging outcome?
But I try not to play the blame game.
Why?
Because it solves nothing.
It won’t reset the game table (our country, the planet) to pre-disaster condition. Nor will it put food, water and other necessities in the hands of the destitute.
Instead of pointing fingers, I go introspective.
I ask myself:

  1. What could I have done differently to change this outcome?
  2. What part did I play in this bad thing?
  3. If my bad decisions led to it, what did I learn from it?
  4. Who can I help overcome a similar bad thing?
  5. What is God trying to teach me during this difficult time?

Most of the time, this keeps me from wallowing too long in the slop called self pity.

But it doesn’t free me from making amends when the answers to the first two questions indicate I played a role in what happened.
And question four empowers me to use what I’ve learned to help other people.
When bad things happen, they hurt more when we face them alone.
When bad things happen, people probably can’t stop them or change them, but they can buoy up the ones suffering.
There’s been an ongoing “bad thing” happening in my personal world for many months. I’ve prayed about it. Ranted about it. Tried to stand up to it.

And it’s still happening.

Because I can’t change the minds of other people. I can’t force them to act according to my code of conduct or adhere to my moral standards and beliefs.
I’m not sure I’ve discovered what God is trying to teach me yet. But here are some things I’ve learned:

  • God is in control even when I don’t see it. Even when things are happening contrary to His perfect will
  • God’s love for me (and the people instigating the problems) is strong and secure
  • I have a spouse who will bolster me when I’m ready to quit and who needs me to do the same for him
  • Anything can become an idol, something worshiped above God, even a church

Life is filled with good and bad. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to people bent on evil and destruction.

The sun rises on the evil and on the good, and rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45 paraphrased).

And, Lord, we could really use some rain in Oregon. Although even that wonderful blessing won’t undo all the damage some illegal fireworks caused for so many in this state (and Washington since the fire jumped the mighty Columbia).
What bad things are happening in your world? How do you deal with bad things?

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Epiphany on the TP Roll

It matters if the toilet paper rolls from the top of the roll or the bottom. Articles have been written on the subject. Memes have blasted around the Internet. Not long ago, I had my own epiphany thanks to a roll of toilet paper.

From the Top

I once read in a reputable magazine that more successful people make sure their toilet paper rolls from the top.

In fact, I think they made some cool-sounding quip like: over-achievers roll over the top. Get it?

I recall checking out my toilet paper the next time I was in the restroom. And switching it from its under-achieving state of being.

“My husband must have put that roll out.”

That under-achieving man! Everyone knew a Type A perfectionist like me would go far in the world.

If that meant getting my toilet paper from the top of the roll instead of the bottom? What could it possibly hurt?

From the Bottom

But you know how different experts have differing opinions about everything. This includes the issue of how toilet paper rolls.

Somewhere at some point after my roll-reversal, I read there was another reason people might let toilet paper dispense from the underside of the roll.

This genius claimed that cat owners rolled their paper that way. Apparently, it made that tempting paper more difficult for cats to unroll. Or maybe it made the paper a less-attractive target.

It’s been many years since I discovered this amazing news.

I could put my toilet paper back to under-achieving mode. And blame it on my cats. For real.

And of course I did it. Not even blinking at how this might make me look in the eyes of people who knew about the over-over quip.

I didn’t even work this new information about cats with toilet paper fetishes into the conversation. Too often.

How it Made Rejection Okay

Fast forward to a recent day in the life of an author who reached the twelve-week point of no return.

What I mean to say is, the publisher that asked for my dystopian young adult novel still had the manuscript well beyond the promised eight-to-ten week notification window.

It had been a couple weeks since the publisher’s editor said that the manuscript was at the top of the pile. It would be read next. The publisher was giving it due-diligence.

And the toilet paper rolled from the underside of the dispenser.

At that moment a light went on.

I was getting rejected because I had allowed my cats to dictate my success.

Rather than demanding that I step up and succeed, I’d compromised by flipping the toilet paper rolls.

It wasn’t my lack of writing credentials. Nothing about my story lacked.

I just needed to flip the stupid toilet paper roll over. And BAM-success would follow.

As I reached to do the deed, it occurred to me that once I flipped the toilet paper roll around and claimed my right to over-achievement, my scapegoat for failure would no longer be available.

Decisions. Decisions.

I told you this whole issue of how to roll your toilet paper was of utmost importance.

So, what do you think? Did I flip it or not?