Celebrating the almost perfect

January 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

You could not ask for much better temperatures than we have had since returning to Senegal on January 1. Days are usually in the low-80’s, with nights dropping into the mid-60’s. Over here, that is considered cold weather, and you see many people bundled in heavy coats and wearing toboggans.

Of course, I am sure all of you would like to swap weather right now. It sounds like it is being a hard winter in the US, especially in the south.

The only weather problem this time of year is usually there is a lot of dust in the air. I’m told it is brought by the cooler northern winds blowing across the Sahara Desert. People here often have respiratory problems during this time.

But the big problem since returning has been that the electricity seems to be staying off almost as much as it is on. I’m told by friends who have been here for almost ten years that these are the worst shortages they have ever experienced. Today, for example, the electricity went off around 7:30 am and it is now 4:40 pm. It has been off all that time except for about forty-five minutes around 3 pm. I guess they just like to tease us.

Don’t get me wrong. It is much easier to live without electricity at these temperatures than at the 95+gegree temperatures of August and September. Still, it is very frustrating when the electricity is off and the internet does not work, especially when you have promised information or pictures to people in the US.

I almost blew a gasket two weeks ago when I decided to solve this problem by cranking up the generator, only to discover that the power chord which connects the generator to the wall outlet was missing, and no one knew where it was. Talk about feeling powerless! And I am not talking about the electrical kind.

Since I do try to learn from the daily frustrations of life here in Senegal, I have been pondering the lesson of my powerless days. The thought that comes to me most strongly is there are few, if any, perfect days in life, whether here or in the US. Full bank accounts can be made to feel empty by the illness of a loved one. The happiness of your good day may become weighed down with the burdens of a friend. A day of success and solid accomplishments can be overshadowed by the person who misunderstood your intentions and took offense at your words.

Every day seems to bring its fair share of problems and challenges. Perhaps that is why Jesus told his disciples that “in this life you will have tribulations” (John 16:33). But Jesus did not stop with those seemingly discouraging words. He went on to say, “…but be of good cheer (courage), for I have overcome the world.”

Few days are ever perfect! And seldom are things as bad as they seem when you are being overwhelmed with life’s troubles. And a lot of how we handle both is determined by our faith and the mental attitude we bring to each day. Do you wake up looking for the day to bring more good or bad?

Too often in life I have only really celebrated when things were perfect. But life, I am learning, is much happier when you can celebrate the “almost perfect.” I suspect it is even better when we learn to be happy with the “good.”

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