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You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.

Paulo Coelho


by Pete Ferguson

Many years back I hired a neighbor to do some work on our home. I could tell on the second or third day that there was a substance abuse problem. He finished the job - and actually did a pretty good job of it. Six months later I was served with a lien on our home as he had not paid one of the contractors.

We were angry and upset. The lien couldn't have come at a worse time and I felt my integrity was in question. Many attempts to contact him to have it paid were unsuccessful. We thought of all kinds of revenge. We also saw his home go into great disrepair and finally one night, many police cars arrived and he disappeared for a long time.

Tired of the poison of hatred - and of seeing his once meticulous yard now very degraded, my wife and kids went and cut out the weeds on his grass and trimmed back his trees. Another neighbor jumped in and helped. During the winter I made sure the snow was cleared on their sidewalks. In service we found peace and forgiveness.

About four years later my neighbor approached me in humility and begged for my forgiveness. He had paid back what he could, but I suspected he probably had expenses much larger than ours and told him we had long since forgiven him and wished he and his family well.

It was I who needed the forgiveness from him. I can't imagine what he had been going through and the last thing he needed was for us to be an enemy in a time when he needed more friends.

Other neighbors tried unsuccessfully to have children for many years. Tens of thousands of dollars in doctors and specialists were fruitlessly spent. Many Mother's Days and Father's Days were spent in depression and tears. When all hope seemed lost in their forties, a family member offered to give a gift for one more try with a new specialist. Surprisingly the fix was relatively simple, but involved a great investment in time and money and many months of bed rest and hospitalization.

Last night - and every night - I smiled as I watched them playing with their twins on their front porch. I laugh when I see the mischief these two concoct as they explore their world. The definition of a miracle twice illustrated.

About two years ago another friend lost his job. He had invested just about everything to help a company survive and they repaid him by never paying him and the company finally went under. They left their dream house - and dreams - behind. He is one of the hardest workers I know and someone I admire and look up to greatly. He pounded the pavement, he did all the right things. Yet he remained unemployed.

You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that
it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.
Jan Glidewell

Over a year later he still was unsuccessful. A grant was acquired and he was able to go back to school and then found a temp-to-hire agency and now has an offer for employment in a good position and I'm sure it won't be too long until he is further ahead of where he was financially years ago.

I was contemplating all of these and other accounts - coupled with my own accounts of frustration and my path to discover who I am - when I was reacquainted with neighbors from over a decade ago.

They had also suffered through infertility but were able to adopt two great kids when we last knew them. I was surprised to see they now had a little girl who looked strikingly like the wife. On further inquiry I found she had awoken four years ago not feeling well and on a whim took a pregnancy test. Then took another, and a blood test to confirm. After a decade and a half of all the doctors, drugs, and specialized methods, she was pregnant without any of the aids.

And all of these lessons remind me that Time can - and does - take care of things. I'm becoming a big believer that wisdom is simply a study and understanding of Time.

Having spent the better part of my life trying either to relive
the past or experience the future before it arrives, I have
come to believe that in between these two extremes is peace.
Author Unknown

As a child, scraping a knee seemed to have eternal consequences of pain. Later in life a much bigger blow may affect our lives for a decade. But as I look at three grandparents in their 90's, from their perspective - World War II, The Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, recessions, 9/11, the deaths of many friends and loved ones and other great trials have all been endured. And yet they still stand, strengthened in their beliefs and by the love of scores of family members who are a direct result of the lives they have lived.

Any great trial will eventually be conquered - by Time. Our trial is to simply have the patience and humility to wait out the pain to be able to bask in the warmth and personal growth which eventually comes after the pain. 

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Tags: dreams, experience, ferguson, forgiveness, hope, humility, learnactshare, patience, pete, success, More…time

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Comment by Debbie W. Wilson on September 10, 2013 at 8:15am

Peter, I was touched by your story about your neighbor. "In service we found peace and forgiveness." You were proactive and didn't just wait for "good feelings" to come to you. You "overcame evil with good" (Romans 12:21). Your example reminded me I need to forgive a little deeper a builder who wronged us and moved away.

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