Gratitude for Disappointments and Irritations

On Sept. 18, 2001, on the third anniversary of my mother’s death, a week after terrorists had taken some of my friends from this earth, I remembered that a few months before, I had done a day’s work at a Fortune 500 company on the 100th floor of the South tower. It was a “preview day” to see if I could do the highly specialized writing job they wanted. At the end of the day I was told not to come back.

I had been devastated. I had never before gone for a job in that manner and not gotten the job. I had cried all the way down on the elevators. In the lobby I had sat on some steps and sobbed into the phone to my lover and to my agent. I went to bed for the next day. I felt demoralized.

On Sept. 18, my memory came rushing back, almost like a hallucination. The feeling of despair, the look of the woman’s face telling me not to return, crossing from one set of elevators to another since it was a two elevator ride to the street, the smell of pretzels in the lobby, the marble-like steps I sat on. Then came the realization that if I had been hired for the job, I would not be here today. I felt faint at the thought.

Though I was much farther removed than most of the people who did not die that day, I still had a twinge of survivor’s guilt. With that guilt comes the question, “Why am I still here?” I would love to tell you I was given some blazing insight as to the reason for my existence. Nope, sorry, can’t do that. I still have no clue as to why the Creator had the audacity to reshape some molecules to form this not very attractive body and shove my frequently confused spirit into it. The memory did, however, affect how I live.

Although I have always nodded in agreement with the idea that God has a plan about every little thing, I still wondered why evil existed. Did evil just sort of happen and God just plan around it? Like when you plan to have your Holy Union outside but have to move it inside when it rains. I rejected, and still reject, the idea that God uses horrible events, or maybe even causes them, to “teach us a lesson.”

I still don’t know why evil exists. The difference is, now it’s not important to know. What is important, what has become the conviction that controls my daily life, is that God does have a plan and I’m included.

I locked my keys in the car (again) the other day. If this had happened a year ago, I would have stomped around using the most amazing string of curses, panicked about how I was going to pick-up my daughter, felt the weight of my stupidity, and then called the tow company for rescue. This did not happen. I simply informed God that I was not amused by this part of THE plan and went in search of assistance.

While I waited for the tow truck I looked at the birds, counted the clouds, and generally put myself into a place of gratitude to God that this mishap was not a coincidence, could not overtake me, and, regardless of how small an event, was still within God’s knowledge and plan. Even though I had to make convoluted arrangements to pick up my daughter, missed my appointments and got ticketed for staying in that parking spot too long, nothing removed me from God’s presence and plan.

I now know that I did not get that job because, months after that day, it was not my time to go home to heaven. I do not know if the nuisance of locking my keys in the car will, months later, somehow impact my life. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is what I do know. Neither event could remove me from God’s presence and plan. I am firmly tied to the Creator of all that exists. The Creator is greater than all that has been created.

I will continue to live life as fully as this confused spirit of mine, in this strange jumble of molecules of my body, can. But I will do this living in the knowledge and gratitude that the Creator, and not the events in the created, is in control.