Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Blue Gumball

Ever had one of those periods in your life where you just felt like you were swirling around in a sea of confusion? Visualize the Ti-D-Bowl Man in his little navy blazer, white pants, and cap hanging on for dear life in his minature boat as the blue water swirls around him, and that pretty much describes it. In case you haven't thought of the Ti-D-Bowl Man in years...well...neither have I.

All I know was that at this particular moment in time, some changes had to be made. I had to quit thinking of the present and the past, and start looking to the future. This was impossible, however, because every time I turned around something else was going wrong.

Within a 30 day period, I found myself transferring colleges, replacing a car that died, dealing with people I disappointed, and trying to get it together. At the time, I was working in a sandwich shop, and was totally unsure how all of the threads of life were going to tie into a bow, knot, or would just sit there and trip me up like untied shoelaces or something.

Although there were times when we were extraordinarily busy, there were times during the day that were very slow. I had time to sit there and think, and watch time pass. One afternoon, I realized that by the door... there was a gumball machine. For a dime, you could get one of those large gumballs. So, every time that I had an extra dime, I would put it in the slot, and turn the handle.

And while this will sound very trivial, I thought that it was important - for whatever reason - to get a blue one. Why blue? Because there is no blue food...and it was just something rare and uncommon. There were a fair number of blue ones in there, but for whatever reason, I just kept managing to get every other color of the, orange, yellow, pink, green, purple or white. And every day, I'd put another dime or two into the slot.

The days passed, and after a couple of weeks, it began to be a quest with me. I saw other people get the blue ones I missed. I kept up my routine and started wondering if there was a correlation between not getting a blue gumball...and all of the craziness and angst I was going through at the time. I even started thinking that if I ever did manage to get one...everything would start getting better. I just held on and figured that it would be my sign.

And then one day...

I looked down...and the gumball was blue.

Although everything didn't immediately get better, things slowly and eventually did. Sometimes, you just need something to give you hope that the present awfulness is going to morph into something you can live with...or you think you can. I just know that at this particular point in my life, I did not have enough understanding to realize that God was using my obsession with a blue gumball to keep me focused on making positive changes and moving forward.

After that summer when everything changed, I realized that my life then started to faintly resemble the one I am living now...except now I'd like to think I have better sense through experience, wisdom, and a better understanding of how God works in our lives.

I hope that if anyone reading this is waiting on a "sign" or something to change...that you be reminded that God is in control of your circumstances. It may seem to be an exercise in futility, marking time, or the opposite of what you want right now...but you are not able to see the whole picture. None of us can. It is only with the benefit of hindsight that we can trace God's hand.

If you have just received an answer, and you are trying to figure out what steps to take...just be aware that you aren't alone.

Now when I get a blue gumball in a gumball machine by random chance...I think back on that time of a crossroads in my life, and all of the changes set in motion then that put me on a different trajectory than may have occurred had I chosen differently. I also think it is something wonderful and seeing a rainbow, having a perfect rose on the bush outside, having my gardenias or tea olives bloom, or catching an awesome sunrise or sunset.

Those markers just let me know that I'm in God's thoughts...and I know that I am...we all are. He sends them to us to give us hope, or reassurance, or just a happy surprise. At least that's the way I see it.

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