Technological tyranny takes its toll on each of us. For me personally, one lesson in particular refuses to evaporate. The memory, painfully imbedded in my psyche, brings on jitters each time I recall the occasion.
(For this lesson to make sense, I ask you to try and conceptualize life without a laptop computer. Consider the pain of waiting to own the device hithertofore only viewed in advertisements. Imagine the satisfaction of finally being able to make the purchase.)
Larry returned home to The Black Forest exhausted. However, before diving into bed, he painstakingly took time to introduce our family to the newest piece of equipment he purchased during his trip to the U.S. The LAPTOP—long anticipated—held mind boggling potential for our future life and ministry. Larry was a proud man; we were a spellbound family.
The next morning marked the day of a track meet for our three student athletes; we hit the ground running (no pun intended). After a quick breakfast, our family packed snacks for the trip, and confirmed that each runner had their cleats. Before walking out the door to meet the chartered bus, Larry and I filled our travel mugs with steaming hot coffee. Then, we turned to lock the wooden door, but not before grabbing the LAPTOP.
In the chilly spring morning, our troupe joined other parents, teachers, and athletes in the school parking lot of the Black Forest Academy, where our children attended as day students. The journey held promise for a great outing and a successful sporting event. No one objected to the three-hour drive.
Soon, the bus pulled in, the doors opened, and passengers piled on. Larry—carefully holding the LAPTOP—inched down the aisle and selected seats for the two us. (Our three teenagers made their way to the back of the bus to sit with their teammates.)
Once underway, most travelers settled in for a nap. At the halfway point to our destination, the bus driver pulled into an autobahn rest stop for a break, and bodies tumbled off the bus.
Before disembarking, Larry placed the LAPTOP on his seat in the bus. Confident the newly acquired piece of technology would be safe, he inched forward to the door.
I also turned to walk off. However— before leaving—I casually placed my travel thermos of coffee on top of the LAPTOP.
Larry returned to the bus before me. Even before I reached my seat, I read the signs. The pain etched on his face and the fixed position of his jaw told me something had just gone terribly wrong. Right.
B.u.m.p.e.d the coffee thermos I inadvertently left sitting on the LAPTOP.
Bad day. Bad accident. Bad memory. Thankfully, The Holy Spirit worked supernaturally in Larry’s attitude, but his demeanor confirmed his pain. His ongoing silence revealed his suffering. Though just a material possession, the costly situation stared our missionary budget in the face throughout the track meet. All day long we experienced the shock waves of the mistake. I felt awful and ached to rewrite the script of those few moments before turning and leaving my seat on the bus.
But I could not rewrite the script, and husband and wife needed to find a way forward. What helped then still helps communication conundrums decades later:
Own the mistake. Say, "I am so sorry," and genuinely mean the words. Defensiveness does further damage. Explanations do not really explain.
Give the matter time. Talking takes its toll, and chatter often increases tension. Be quiet and give the matter peace. Relational restoration, the desired outcome, requires the balm of time.
Pray. Pray for yourself, pray for the person involved, and pray for a supernatural solution. God can and will make the crooked places straight. (Isaiah 42: 16d NKJV)
A Note of Follow Up:
The LAPTOP, ironically, enjoyed a good long life. Upon returning home from the track meet, Larry gently lifted the keyboard, and allowed the inside to completely dry out. Twenty-four hours later, miraculously (did I say miraculously), the blessed light blinked on once he plugged the cord into the socket. For me, I never wanted to come near the thinking machine again.
Living with Eternal Intentionality: Recall a time when you caused damage to something of importance to someone else. What was the process of working it out?