We’ve all had a moment where something horrible happened, but in the end, we looked back on it and realized it had taught us some important things. I had just such an experience last month and I want to share my takeaways with you — maybe you can learn them without going through all the frustrations!
The unthinkable happened to me just a couple of weeks ago. As I was happily typing away on my beloved MacBook, working on this blog in fact, I turned to say something to my fiancé, and knocked my mug of tea across the keyboard. This was not a normal mug, but more of a bucket really, holding at least 16 ounces of liquid, and it was half full, so that’s about 8 more ounces of liquid than should ever spill through a computer. The screen blacked out immediately and I almost did as well, but Vincent had the presence of mind to flip the computer over to hopefully save the motherboard and Google next steps. We tried everything we could find online, but no cigar, and both the Genius Bar guy (I hate that name, don’t you?), the IT manager at work, and my techie brother told me I was out of luck.
I cried in frustration over this a couple of times, to be honest with you. Not only was I out $1,000 for a new computer, I had lost work files and personal files, since I hadn’t backed up a lot of things that I should have. I was in a bad way, but I actually had a couple of what I call “heart realizations.” You know how often, you know something intellectually but not emotionally? That’s exactly what happened for me here.
All you can do is all you can do.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a worrier. No matter how many times I read the words of Jesus, “ Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:34) I seem to think that I can fix things by obsessing over them. I’ve actually wasted quite a few hours of my life lying sleepless in bed trying to solve a problem that I have no control over. And that’s what I had to stop doing here. Maybe this is silly, but after I had my laptop set on a ventilated box over a towel with a fan blowing on it, as per the wisdom of the Internet, I could not.stop.thinking about it, and it did me zero good! After a couple of days I realized I needed to stop being ridiculous, shop for a new laptop, and wait and see what would happen.
The same is true in pretty much any situation in life. Did you hurt a friend? Apologize, make amends as best you can, and don’t lie awake stressing over it (this is definitely something I’ve been learning to do the hard way). Are you underprepared for a test? Study as much as you can, get some sleep, take said test, and don’t worry about your score! God is keeping an eye on us and he won’t let anything too crazy for us to handle land in our laps.
Don’t beat yourself up over an honest mistake.
At first I was hysterically upset. It was such as stupid mistake to make and I had a hard time forgiving myself for a simple moment of absentminded clumsiness. But then, everyone makes a mistake like that at some point in their lives! When you’ve messed up on something that would have been easy to avoid, remember that you’re in great company with 100% of the human race. I had to remind myself that my little sister has broken 3 cell phones in the time that I’ve had my current one, and I actually felt a lot better when I saw a poor guy on a help forum who said he had ruined 5 Macs in 5 years by spilling a drink on them. (Hopefully I won’t be following his lead, I can’t afford 5 more computers!)
It’s like that with anything. Everybody screws up at work and school or with their family sometimes, and you really can’t emotionally abuse yourself. I’m sure you wouldn’t constantly berate your mom or your boyfriend for an hour for an honest mistake, so don’t do the same thing to yourself!
Things are not as bad as they look.
Initially, I was completely freaked out over my broken computer. I just bought a car, and the community journalism/college combo isn’t exactly a get rich quick scheme. Plus, I lost a bunch of photos that I really, really wanted back. But after awhile, I realized that between an Apple student discount and the free Beats that came with the computer, which I could sell on OfferUp or something, I wasn’t paying full price for the new computer, and none of the files I lost were essential. I definitely prayed for my computer to come back online, but when it wasn’t working 3, 4, 5 days after the spill, I gave up on it, and ordered a new one with only a little whining. I felt a lot better just having things handled. And then, this is the kicker, an entire week after the accident, the day my replacement arrived, I figured I’d try to turn the thing on again. If I didn’t get any results, I’d sell the parts online to recoup a couple hundred bucks. I plugged it on and hit the power button, and it worked! It opened Photoshop and my browser tabs from the previous week and everything! I was over the moon. I straightaway transferred my files to an external hard drive and my new laptop. The old one works, so long as it’s connected to power, and a replacement battery isn’t too expensive, so my parents are going to replace the battery and give it to my little sister, and give me a couple hundred bucks to offset what I could sell it to someone else for if I fixed it myself. Fingers crossed it keeps working, but either way, I got my data back, and learned that the experts aren’t always right!
Answered prayers aren’t always answered with an immediate ‘yes.’
Honestly, it was a really great lesson on the workings of prayer, too. I prayed like every day for several days that my laptop would start working again, and every morning, the answer was no. Once I said, “OK, God, I can see you want me to learn a lesson about responsibility and taking care of the things that You have blessed me with, and also to be patient when things don’t go my way,” my laptop was back up and running. I’m not saying it was a direct reward or anything, but it’s quite a coincidence, if you ask me, and I’ve had similar experiences in the past. This is just the most expensive one so far, and hopefully for a while, knock on wood!
A computer should not be taken for granted.
Also, as I went for a few days without a laptop, and went through the process of replacing one, I was really humbled by the material blessings that we enjoy in America. My family wouldn’t be considered rich by American standards, but by global standards, we have so much. Not only did I have a computer in the first place, I was able to replace it within a few days, for more money than people in developing countries might ever see in their lives.
I don’t think we always appreciate our material blessings the way we should. Sure, we thank God all the time for our families, our educations, our friends, nature, vacation, a good night’s sleep, but I can’t remember if I ever said, “God, thank You for this machine that lets me learn so much, create so much, and connect with people on the other side of the world” before last month. Maybe a computer isn’t the kind of thing that we get a warm fuzzy feeling about, but it’s an amazing tool that God has given us! I look at technology a little differently after spending some time realizing what a profound effect it has on me, day to day.
So all things considered, although I’d love to have the money and time I spent on my broken laptop back, I think I learned enough from the experience to make it pretty worthwhile, and a lot of the best lessons we learn are the most painful to go through. What’s your latest technology snafu or life frustration that turned out to be God speaking to you?