Trials and Tribulations

13 Mar

Originally written on 3/12:
We had our first “crisis” since my stay here. No, not my dad leaving unexpectedly for Iraq. Technically, that bombshell occurred before I came here.

Yesterday, I left the house to get dinner. I came back and used the garage door opener to get into the house- we only have two keys between the four of us and my brother has one but he’s a few hundred miles away. So until a spare can be made, I’ve been using the garage door opener. I got inside and hit the switch again to shut the door. It started making the most awful racket, and one side was lowering more than the other side. Pretty soon, the upper leftmost corner threw one of its wheels and dropped out of the track.

I stopped the switch, fairly freaking out that I had managed some large scale destruction half a month into my stay, halting the door mid-close. I called Dad, currently in Texas before he flies over to the ME, and told him the details of the bungling. He said we could try to call my uncle to come over and fix it- the same grumpy uncle who suggested I do a two-year PT program. Fortunately, he wasn’t upset at all. I guess when you break news with, “This is really bad, and I hate to tell you, but…” parents’ minds tend to go to the worst case scenario. Just a tip for future reference.

When Sandy got home, I recounted the particulars to her as well. I had texted her beforehand not to use the door since she was out at dinner with her family. She was alarmed about the door, but not upset with me, fortunately. When I apologized she brushed it aside, saying if it had not happened with me it would have happened with her or Dad. That was a big relief.

The problem came when she announced that we would try to fix it tomorrow. This is fairly rational seeing as most people don’t leave their garages open when they are asleep and vulnerable. However, we live in a very, very small neighborhood, with about twenty houses, not all of which are even occupied. We all know each other and it is very safe. More importantly, I am a seventh day Sabbath keeper. From sunset Friday to sunset Saturday I don’t do any work, unless it constitutes an emergency- ox in the ditch, if you will. An ambiguously broken garage door in my mind does not an emergency make.

Well, a few moments ago, that’s exactly what we did. We went into the garage and I held the door up while Sandy put the wheel back in its track, after taking off the plate that held the wheel in place and reattaching it in that order. After about thirty minutes of this, we tried closing the door with the switch, only to find that it did exactly what it did last night. It closed unevenly until the wheel popped off again. We ended up closing it manually, which is probably what we should have done in the first place.

I had conflicting emotions about the experience. For one, I really enjoyed doing something bond-worthy with Sandy, just the two of us. Teambuilding exercises are great! Plus I really like fixing things, doing hands on stuff. The higher priority for me, however, was to uphold what I believe is a sacred law.

When it comes to maintaining my religion, I have always struggled with my dad’s side of the family, who are mostly mainstream Protestants; Sunday keepers who eat pork and celebrate Christmas.

My problem is how do I express to a woman whose house I am living in, who I barely know, who is religious herself but doesn’t agree with my religion, that I don’t want to help her in what she considers a valid time of need? I say “want” as opposed to “can’t” because I understand that I have a choice here. What is the obligation that I have and what is the greater priority? God knows the ins and outs and expects me to do the best I can, but this is a really sticky situation.

I would probably still be reeling from the experience, trying to hide in my room (am I really almost thirty?) to avoid the confrontation it would bring had I not just spoken to one of my roommates from Ohio.

Ruthie is a long-time friend. We met years before I even left for Ohio, during my original time in Alabama, and we lived together almost the entirety of my stay there. She shares my religious beliefs and knows the pressure I am feeling. In addition, she is significantly older than me and has a dearth of experience.

Here are some of the pieces of the scenario she pointed out that were great for perspective. Sandy is under a lot of stress right now with Dad leaving, therefore:

o Be helpful in any way that I can when I can, which is proper, given that I am staying in her home, and comforting
o Wait for her to bring up the door and then explain how I feel about addressing a non-emergency on the Sabbath
o Doing what I did at the time, in the given situation, was probably the right way to handle it, reflecting on the above reasons.

Ruthie also made me remember the reactions are sometimes delayed, and that I probably won’t see any real stress from Sandy until a few weeks down the road. When it comes out it might not have anything to do with me directly. Maybe something I do reminds her of my dad, or maybe it’s just something she’s dealing with. Be prepared for it. (I should clarify that reactions happen right on time, but sometimes it takes our brains a while to really process what has happened, for everything to finally sink in.)

I’m not saying the whole thing doesn’t bother me. This particular situation is over, but it still does. But, Ruthie was able to ease my conscience by saying that God knows the details of the situation and she didn’t think He would condemn me for my actions. From here on out, though, I know that I have to be more consistent, and I have to be firm, but polite.

It’s clear to me what my priorities are, and I want to stand by my convictions.

Hey, didn’t I say this was going to be interesting?


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