We’ll never forget that night.
Because you don’t forget the first time…
You think you might die.
It was sophomore year of college.
After a long day of classes and work, we were at Amy’s apartment near campus enjoying our favorite evening ritual:
Watching Gilmore Girls on DVD on her old, black, square-shape, busted-up, hand-me-down TV with a mangled speaker.
(It was damaged in the ’94 California earthquake when she was a little girl.)
We were eating a pint of ice cream and a bowl of popcorn –– a tradition that continues to this day.
(Minus the ice cream. Our metabolisms don’t seem to handle a pint of Ben & Jerry’s the way they used to!)
It was a totally normal night.
Until it wasn’t.
All of a sudden…
Out of nowhere…
We saw bright flashing lights.
Red and blue.
Coming from the alley next to Amy’s second-floor bedroom window.
The lights got brighter…
As it got closer…
The hum from the engine got stronger.
The shadow of the police car, bigger.
That’s when we heard it.
A loud, booming voice from a police bullhorn right outside the window:
“RESIDENTS! STAY IN YOUR HOMES! LOCK YOUR DOORS! GET AWAY FROM YOUR WINDOWS! TAKE COVER! THERE IS A SHOOTER WHO IS ON THE LOOSE IN THIS COMPLEX WHO IS ARMED AND DANGEROUS.”
We were in shock.
For a second.
Amy’s two roommates turned the corner.
We all exchanged wide eyes.
Then we frantically sprang into action.
Buzzing around like bees in a hive…
We closed the windows.
Shut the blinds.
Locked the front door.
(And pushed the couches against it, barricading ourselves in)
We turned off the lights and waited.
We all just laid down in the dark, on the ground between the bed and the closet, so we weren’t directly up against an exterior wall.
And we waited.
We could hear helicopters overhead.
The red and blue lights were the only thing we could see.
Our hearts were beating fast.
Our breathing so heavy and loud.
What if the gunman tried to come in?
Every second felt like a minute.
Every minute, like an hour.
Tiny sounds made our bodies tense, eyes dilate and heads whip around.
Our adrenaline was pumping at full capacity.
Each subtle cough or ruffle of a pant leg made us jump a little bit.
We were on high alert.
It was an active situation, and we didn’t have smart phones, so there wasn’t an easy way to get updates.
We just had to wait.
After a while…
(To this day, we can’t remember how long)
(Everything was such a blur)
The same police car came back.
But this time…
The flashing lights were off.
And the bull horn was less demanding and more reassuring:
“THE SHOOTER IS IN CUSTODY.”
“IT IS SAFE TO LEAVE YOUR HOMES.”
Why do we tell you this story?
Because the other night we were having a conversation about where we started in life –– and by the grace of God, how far we’ve come.
And just how important PERSPECTIVE is.
We were unloading groceries from our car to the fridge and Amy, carrying a big load, tripped over the clutter in our garage.
She told Jordan her first instinct was frustration that life has felt so busy we could barely navigate unloading the groceries.
But then her mind flashed back to those early days.
In that apartment, she would’ve been THRILLED just to HAVE a garage.
If we’re not careful, we can all be guilty of this…
1. Praying for something (If I just had…)
2. Then, as soon as we get it, we act like it’s normal, stop being grateful for it, and want more.
Amy didn’t live in the best part of town her sophomore year of college.
Was there a shooting every night? No.
That was a one time thing.
But here’s what’s real…
When she lived in that apartment, she didn’t have an assigned parking spot. She hated getting home late, because it usually meant she had to park farther away and walk by herself in the dark. She got used to feeling scared every time she went from her car to her apartment door.
She remembers thinking:
One day, I’d love an apartment with an assigned parking spot.
The next year, she and her roommates moved to a new apartment building, and they got two assigned spots much closer to the door.
Pretty soon, though, they all wanted the one covered spot.
The covered spot felt like such an upgrade BUT…
Imagine how amazing it would be to have a garage for extra storage.
When we got married, our small condo CAME WITH A GARAGE.
It was detached and far away from our unit, so hauling boxes and groceries was a task.
Could you imagine how great it would be if we had an attachedgarage?
When we bought our first house eight years into marriage, for the first time, we got an attached garage (!!)
And now here we were, present day, in our big garage attached directly to our house, catching ourselves feeling frustrated that it was cluttered.
It can happen so easily.
Perspective helps bring back gratitude though, right?
Because the things we have today are the things we were praying for yesterday.
And it’s the thing someone else is praying for right now.
Another idea we love is this:
Two things can be true at the same time.
We can be grateful for what we have and also have goals for the future.
So whether you’re someone with a starter camera who wants to upgrade to a newer nicer model, or you wish you could be charging X dollars per session, or you’re dreaming of a bigger house, a better relationship, a nicer car…or maybe just a better parking spot…
Dreaming and marching toward new goals is a GOOD thing, but if we aren’t careful and aware of it, it can also easily sabotage our gratitude.
We’d invite you to join us in reframing things every time you start to set a new goal by pausing to be grateful for the things you already have.
What is something you have TODAY that you once used to hope, wish or pray for?
For us, pausing for gratitude makes all the difference.