As the fire engine pulled up in front of my house, I could see faces peering out at me and a flurry of activity that appeared to be men putting on jackets.
Do I saunter across the yard so they know not be alarmed, or do I run to spare them the effort of exiting the truck and making a greater scene?
Just minutes earlier, I had been on the phone with our home security company. There had been a problem with one of the fire alarm units in our house. For weeks, they’d call us at all hours (usually while we were peacefully sleeping) to tell us the battery was low. We’d dutifully change the battery and within a week receive the call again.
With this morning’s call, I requested that they send a technician. Clearly there was a problem with the unit. They transferred me to technical services. As I talked to the technician, he wanted to try one other option before sending someone on site. During our lengthy conversation, I pushed what seemed like a million buttons on the unit, and as instructed, the “test” button – which apparently is a magical little button.
This one tiny button set in motion a series of events.
Because the technician forgot one little step in the testing process – to temporarily deactivate our system, pushing that button triggered a signal to the security company. They called me to check on me, but because I was already on the phone with their technical department (and was not aware that the signal had been sent), I did not answer. It would have been rude to put the technician on hold, right?
They then called the fire department – while I’m still on the phone with their technical department.
Then, they call my next-door-neighbor who is first on my call list. She was at the grocery store.
They then alerted my parents, who are next on my call list because the live nearby.
By this time, I’ve been disconnected from the security company and my mom calls to tell me that the fire department is on the way. What?!
And, indeed the fire engine arrived as I hung up the phone with my mother. My dad pulled up behind the fire truck. Neighbors emerged from their homes.
Embarrassed, head down, still dressed in work out clothing, not yet showered, I walked across the front yard to meet the firemen and explain that everything was OK… a miscommunication of sorts. I apologized profusely and thanked them for their time as they climbed back in the truck.
Fortunately, we learned that the alarm system actually works. But what a commotion because of some missteps and miscommunication!
Reflecting on the incident reminded me of how often in life things take an unexpected turn and land us in an awkward situation. But, the circumstances aren’t the most important part, our reaction is. We often can’t control our circumstance, but we can control our thoughts and our actions. The question is: do we? Do we exercise patience when things don’t go our way? Are we gracious and forgiving to those who wound us or do we strike back? Do we look at the worst in a situation or try to find the silver lining?
Luckily, the firemen weren’t too upset about the incident, or at least they didn’t verbalize it. And, I was able to get a good laugh when all the excitement settled. My daughter has enjoyed telling the story several times, so the absurdity of the events continues to amuse.
But, life’s mishaps are not always funny.
And so, our thought lives play a significant role in the level of joy and peace we experience. I pray that you take a step back and evaluate your thoughts and attitudes in the midst of trying times. And, may you be blessed by a willingness to see things through the lens of God’s glasses.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8