Last night, as I reflected a bit more on my life and on my day, I recalled a story that I used to tell back in 2006 when I started ministry on a college campus.
This is a similar version to the one I used to share when students were processing difficult news like break-ups, decline letters, and missed opportunities:
A Chinese farmer gets a horse, which soon runs away. A neighbor says, “That’s bad news.” The farmer replies, “Good news, bad news, who can say?”
The horse comes back and brings another horse with him. Good news, you might say.
The farmer gives the second horse to his son, who rides it, then is thrown and badly breaks his leg.
“So sorry for your bad news,” says the concerned neighbor. “Good news, bad news, who can say?” the farmer replies.
In a week or so, the emperor’s men come and take every able-bodied young man to fight in a war. The farmer’s son is spared.
I found myself recalling this century old parable. Memories flowed as I remembered how students would begin to look at their situation differently as they processed this story.
As Dr. Wayne Dyer often said, “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at changes.”
To clarify, this in no way approves the injustices that occur in our lives or the horror that humanity can dish out.
Rather, it is intended to look at the bumps in the road, the unexpected or undesired turns in the path of life that we may not understand and even curse.
Darius Rucker’s song “This” captures the essence of this post. In his refrain he sings, “Thank God for all I missed, cause it led me all to this.”
Sometimes we may not understand until we face the rearview mirror. Give it all a consideration recognizing that good news or bad news, who can say?
And trust that what we may see as bad news may simply be a crack in our armor, and a necessary turn, leading us to our true self and as a result, in authentic service to others.