Some of the best music incorpotates some well-timed dissonance. It’s not dissonance or resonance itself that makes music great, it’s how the composer uses them and the audience appreciates them.
Our family’s soundtrack segued into a pattern of dissonace recently, and I am still thinking it through to appreciate what beauty can be found.
It started as a normal Thursday morning. Thursdays lately have been long days of work for me, leaving my home around 8:30 am and returning at about 8 pm. The first “twist” was a cancellation of my first client. Not too bad, really. A little less pay and trying to document the sensitive situation of not setting eyes on the family.
That cancellation was why I was home to participate in the second twist of the day. Chrissy and the girls had just left to go grocery shopping while I was getting ready to leave for the next appointment. Chrissy called only minutes after she had walked out the door. They were stranded about three blocks away. The Volvo had decided it was going on strike.
I ran down the street to provide what support I could, which mostly amounted to pushing the car about 10 feet to be a little safer and contacting friends/neighbors from our church community to see if they could help with the kids while Chrissy waited for the tow truck because I had to leave for my appointment.
Beautifully, faithfully, one of them came and took the kids home with her for Chrissy.
Everything went OK after that for a while. Until my afternoon appointment, where events transpired that it would be irresposible for me to write of them here, but let’s just say, I couldn’t leave the visit for an extra hour after it ended in order to ensure everyone’s safety. Which made me late to my final appointment. My supervisor offered to drop what she was doing and drive across town to relieve me, even though it wasn’t ultimately needed.
As I was leaving the chaotic visit, I got a call from my sister that she was stranded with a sprained ankle at a coffee shop and needed a ride home.
I couldn’t deal with that one myself, so Chrissy, in all her glorious, beautiful faithfulness cut bathtime (for the kids) short, borrowed a neighbor’s car (the same neighbor who had come through for us earlier in the day), and rescued my sister.
To top it all off, on my way home, my car started overheating. That’s right. Both our cars broke down on the same day.
The next morning, another generous and faithful friend from our church community loaned us a car so that I could get to work. Two others also offered, but we only needed the one.
As it turned out, our Volvo’s repair was more than we were willing to invest in the car. The strike backfired on the defiant car, and we cut it loose. We ended up selling it to the mechanic for $100. Chrissy did math magic and managed to scrape together enough unspent money from our tax return that we were able to buy a minivan less than 24 hours after the Volvo died. We had to drive a borrowed car to get there, but we got it.
The rest of the day went more or less without hiccup, except that another client tried to cancel because the whole family was vomiting (I stopped by anyway for just a few minutes. I know. I’m a jerk), cutting out a little more income.
Chrissy yet again stepped up to the plate for my sister and used the newly acquired van to get my sister to her doctor’s appointment, dragging the kids in tow.
At the end of the day, just after I returned the borrowed car, the mechanic called about the Subaru. The problem wasn’t the thermostat or water pump as I had hoped. It was the head gasket.
Yet another sighting of care, generosity, and faithfulness appeared in the form of our mechanic’s relationship with us. We have known him for years, and through consistently bringing vehicles owned by a company I used to work for, we had developed a sort of friendship. He once handed me a $20 bill and told me to buy my daughter a present when I told him it was her birthday.
While he couldn’t possibly fix a bum head gasket for free, he quoted a sacrificially low price for the repairs, and he spent extra time looking into other options for us that ultimately didn’t pan out, but he was looking out for us nonetheless. This was not the first time he has been a blessing to us.
Seeing as we had just spent nearly every flexible penny on a minivan, a head gasket repair was a bit beyond our scope of financial availability. So, we had the opportunity to experience yet another expression of generous faithfulness.
Our family has provided countless acts of generosity and tangible love for me, Chrissy, and our girls over the years, and they continue to sacrifice for our good. Once agian, members of the family came through and offered to make a loan of the needed capital to get the car back on the road.
To cap it all off, yet another faithful friend from the chuch community contacted us and offered to make a loan of the money for repair as well.
We’re still waiting for the head gasket to be repaired, but it will be. We now have a minivan that opens up more possibilities for us and removes the omnipresent anxiety of when the Volvo would kick the bucket. We used up all the extra money we had and will have a small extra expense each month as we pay back our loan. But, really, what stands out after two days of blow after blow is not the losses or the stress but the faithfulness and the beauty. I feel not beaten down but grateful and loved.
At least 11 people contributed or offered to contribute to the needs of me and my family. Each one representing an act of faithfulness that brightened their spirits and mine like candles kindled upon an altar.
Christ was faithful through all of them too, just as he is faithful in every act of beauty, every act of kindness and love, every act of generosity and sacrifice. Even more, as each of the people who aided us are members of Christ’s body, Jesus was there caring for us in a very direct way. This was a narrative of the church being the church, of Jesus sustaining us in the large and small, and of tangible faithfulness in the real world.
When I started writing this story, I hoped to find the themes present in the music, and I wasn’t sure exactly where they would be. As is nearly always the case, I discovered Jesus in the telling. It’s the stories of our lives that illuminate truth and reorient our perpectives.
The song of the last few days was not a lament after all, full of irreconciable dissonance, but instead it was a ballad. The story-song of faithfulness is beautiful. It weaves in the dissonance of hardships with the harmonies of love. Experiencing these few notes without hearing the story could have left me adrift or bitter or just tired, but I am finding that telling the story is an important practice for me. Finding the story in the experience gives me a direction and clarifies the steps of joining in on the faithfulness. I pray I might become as faithful and loving and generous as the people in my life and as the God who provides for me on a daily basis.
I hope to remember to tell these stories and to hear them from other people as well. If you were to tell a story of received faithfulness, what would yours be?