By Angela W Kleven
It had been a long grueling day and promised to be an even longer night. As I looked at the pile of medical records stacked on my desk that had to be transcribed by dawn, I stopped. My momentum and energy were gone. I had already been working for several hours that evening, trying to interpret the fast-paced and garbled dialogue from many doctors while simultaneously meeting the needs of my children. Several years before I had chosen to walk this path, to work from home as a single parent. In the last few years I stretched myself even further by creating a nonprofit foundation, homeschooling my children, and being involved in many other worthy but consuming projects. That night I felt overwhelmed, exhausted, unsupported, and unfulfilled. My burdens felt as heavy as cement, and I started to cry as the stream of relentless challenges, unmet demands, and broken dreams flowed through my thoughts.
My children were getting ready for bed, and I needed a break. I called up the stairs and told my 14-year-old daughter that I would be gone for a few minutes and to make sure the twins went to bed. As I backed out of the driveway, I heard the brakes squeal and remembered just one more thing that needed the time and money and attention that I did not have. I drove down the street to the closest convenience store and walked in to buy a Diet Pepsi or two, anything to keep me going for the next twelve hours.
As I waited in the checkout line, I watched a young boy and his mother in front of me. It was 9:30 p.m., and they had stopped at the store for a gallon of milk on their way home. The mother was clearly dressed for work and was questioning her son about his experiences that day at school and later at day care. Instantly I realized that even though my day had been long and demanding, I had still been home with my kids, and had been there to talk with them, eat with them, teach them, and sit with them. They always knew that even when I was working and my office door was closed, I was available for them if they knocked.
On my way out of the parking lot, I passed by a man who had all of his possessions and countless tin cans piled into a shopping cart which he was pushing down the street. This time, tears fell because I was grateful. My heart softened immediately and I poured out my thanks to God for the abundance of blessings that surrounded me every day. My children and I were healthy, we had a roof over our heads, a car to drive, food to eat, clothes to wear, a deep and sustaining faith, and each other to love and care for.
The Law of Relativity is a natural law which is always true. It simply states, “Nothing we experience is fundamentally good or bad. Bad things that happen to us are only bad relative to something better. ” That night, in the ten minutes that I was gone, I learned the truth of this law. In the course of those few short minutes, my circumstances transformed from dire and depressing to beautiful and blessed. Life was and still is challenging. Every day brings unpredictable twists and turns. When I begin to feel unrelenting pressure and intense stress, I now close my eyes, breathe deeply, and remember the people I saw that night. In that moment, my burdens become light as a feather, and all is well once again.