During my entire career I have had a heightened sense of angst about being late or maybe even missing a wedding or a funeral, especially when they occur on a Saturday.
The Sunday routine and even the weekday responsibilities are so ingrained that overlooking something is not likely. However, my Saturdays almost always involve a wedding or a funeral or some other church event.
And since I try to use the balance of my Saturday time to catch up on tasks at home, I often put notes to myself around the house to remind me of the time so that I am not late. Weddings and funerals are so important because there is no retake.
A minister can offer a less than optimal product on a Sunday morning and the chances are good that you get to come back the next Sunday and redeem yourself. No such luck with weddings and funerals. Blow it and the results are incredibly embarrassing.
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My angst is even greater when a wedding or funeral is out of town and you don’t travel until the day of the event. What if you have a flat tire, or get stuck in a traffic jam? The threat of not getting to an event on time has always worried me.
And this past Saturday came close to that kind of experience. The wedding was in the mountains, about two hours away. I left four hours early just to be safe. I entered the address into my GPS and off I went. I had been in the area of the wedding before, but as time went on, I did not recognize any of the surroundings.
I was dependent on my technology device. At about the right time, it told me I had arrived at my destination. But instead of a resort, it was a dirt road with a small church at the end.
“Oh, no!” My worst fears were coming true. I was in the mountains, so my phone did not work well. My iPad could not get a signal. I frantically started driving, looking for an elevated place to get a signal.
I finally got my iPad to work and Googled the resort. The address looked the same as I had entered in my GPS, with one exception – the name of the road on the correct one had an “s” on the end. I had entered “Mountain Blvd” and the correct one was “Mountains Blvd.” One simple letter made the difference. I entered the correct one and got new directions.
And, yes, I made it to the wedding in time, with only the bride and groom knowing that I had been in panic mode for the past hour and a half and had avoided a minster’s nightmare.
That experience reminded me of the importance of small things. It was one simple letter, but the absence of it almost created a huge embarrassment for me and the couple depending on me. When I meet with couples in premarital counseling, I talk to them about the importance of small things. We discuss why they should not forget the small things they have done for each other that brought them to that point, and that once married they should not stop doing those small things for each other.
But small things can also be very destructive. A word or phrase spoken in haste can create a wound that takes a long time to heal. A small act of kindness can be a lifesaver for someone and a small act of disrespect can be incredibly hurtful. Life is made up of lots of big things and small things, and though the little things may not loom large on the screen, they can make or break us.
The absence of one small letter this past Saturday could have been a horrible moment for me professionally and a horrendous experience for the couple on their special day. It was a valuable reminder for me to be more careful and also to never forget the importance of small things.
They have the power to make or break. I think I knew that already, but I am grateful for the reminder.