Saturday, March 7, 2015

Character Building Experiences

Growing up my dad used to call the tough-times "character building experiences". Those were times like when we sunk a houseboat, the family got the chicken pox, or when we re-roofed the house (ourselves) during a heatwave and the temperatures hit 122.  Or the time we went back- packing and got dropped off at the wrong location so we had to double-time the hike to make it to the rondevous point in time. Or the time the car broke in the boonies (in Africa) and my dad repaired the radiator with our chewing gum.  

You know - character building.

By the time I left for college I was chalk-full of "character".

This week my husband and I had another such character building experience.  My mechanic called to tell me my engine was shot. Broken beyond repair. I was devastated.  Not just because I loved my pilot, buy also because the thought of replacing it with A MINIVAN (!) made me cry.

But I did the sensible thing and got over it.  We got the minivan a few days laster, got a great deal, and had the car towed to a family member who is in the business of selling cars. He had it detailed and had his mechanic look over it so that he could figure out what our best course would be for selling it.

And his mechanic said "oh I can fix this".

Wait what?

Turns out our mechanic was WRONG.  Not possible. This was a mechanic who not only had taken care of MY cars for the last 20 years, but also my parents cars and my in-laws cars for decades prior to that.  He was even at our wedding.

So I didn't get a second opinion because (apparently) I thought that attending a clients wedding makes you immune to hiring people who may make a mistake.  Apparently "his guy" had failed to replace something correctly with doing one of the many major services we have had in the last year.  An old part wore out because it wasn't replace at the right time, and that was the issue.  The car just needed a part replaced.  When my mechanic and his guy were trouble shooting they didn't think about that specific part - because it should have already been property replaced.


So here we are with a car payment in our garage, and a perfectly fine one in the drive. 
I was livid. I felt duped. I called my sister. I called my dad. I called my brother. 

And then I gulped and called my husband.

And he was totally okay with it all. 

How can you not be mad? I asked.  He simply responded that I needed the bigger car, the kids love it, and now we will get 2x the amount when we sell the pilot because it is a really good car.

Leaving me to reflect on how we react when the unexpected happens.  

Do we jump to pine for what could have been... Do we lament about the change in plans...or find ourselves frustrated at our need to adjust? I was sad about needing a new car & had just gotten accustomed to the idea when I found out about the easy repair. And then I was mad all over again because it was all so unnecessary.

I don't like change. And change just for the sake of change is scary to me.  But my husband- he just rolls with it. He finds the silver lining, the cup half- full.   Change makes us uncomfortable.  Dealing with unknown and unplanned situations that surprise us can help us grow, or they can lead us to hunker down and become bitter.  

If these little experiences are to be character building, which parts of our character is being built up? Are they helping us learn patience? Or wisdom? Or preservernce?

What about you? When met with the unexpected are you a cup half-full kind of person? Do you embrace change or find yourself resisting?  Think back to some stressful or trying time... Did that experience mold you in any identifiable way?

Thanks for stopping by to think with me!  And happy driving!
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