Inconvenience Precedes Improvement

This is my local grocery store. More to the point, this is the construction blocking my usual parking spot at my local grocery store.

I was…less than thrilled when I saw this, mostly because this work required a change in the flow of traffic, and also because there was no advanced warning. Most construction areas have some sort of sign, advertising the future site of some building or other. Nothing here, though, just signs telling you that all of a sudden the drive is one-way, and lots of fences and confusion. All this on a busy Sunday afternoon when the students are back in town. Needless to say, it was not the most enjoyable shopping trip I’ve ever had.

A friend called just after I finished unloading groceries. She’d had a bad week and, understandably, needed to decompress. (Among other, more personal things, she was forced to switch offices because hers had black mold.) And she asked me how a rather large personal project was going. (The answer? Stressful.)

And after she hung up the phone, I thought about the grocery shopping experience in conjunction with my friend’s and my stress, and thought: “Construction is irritating and inconvenient. But this means improvement follows. Sometimes the outcome is visible; sometimes it’s not. But it often means good things are coming.”

1. Visible Outcomes

Inconvenience is easiest to deal with when you know why it’s happening. For example, I’m usually patient with road construction, especially if it’s on a road I drive frequently. I can handle a few months of slower traffic if it means that a large patch of potholes are going away. Or Weight Watchers. I’ve been on it for a year now. It’s a pain to forego the candy or french fries, and I know I’ll always have to be careful about what I eat, but the positive goal of actually being a healthy weight for the first time since high school means I’m willing to keep at it, especially since I’ve already seen certain benefits.

My personal project falls in this camp. It requires a lot of hard work and eats up a lot of my free time, and there’s no guarantee of success, but if things work out it will be well worth the trouble.

(By the way, I’m not quite ready to talk about the personal project on public channels, but I’m willing to talk about it if you ask.)

2. Invisible Outcomes

It’s harder to deal with inconvenience (or worse) when you don’t know why it’s there. My friend’s office move falls into this category. My own office had its own set of stupid drama about a year ago. I’ve seen a depressing number of people lose jobs. My dad was (semi-voluntarily) unemployed for several months. Several friends have had rough pregnancies. At least one has had a miscarriage. My car has broken down more times than I can count. Some of these are worse than others, and I feel bad about lumping things like, say, my office drama and my friend’s miscarriage in the same category. “Inconvenience” is far too mild a word. But large or small, such things result in a (hopefully short-term) lifestyle alteration, often with no visible purpose.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not there. I’m a firm believer that “All things work together for the good of those that love God.” For instance, at my workplace, we had constant upheaval for months. It seemed like just as we finally adapted from the previous change, some new chaos was introduced. But we finally shook things out, and honestly, all the turmoil truly did make the Marketing department, at least, a much better team than we had been. Or for my friend, the inconvenience of having to switch offices may result in better relationships with her new officemates. Or, in a rather dramatic example, my company’s president lost his wife and children in a horrible accident with a semi, and eventually used the settlement money from the trucking company to start the company. I quite possibly would not have a job had he not lost his family years ago, not to mention the fact that the service our president created has helped countless people overcome Internet pornography addictions.

This don’t make inconveniences, big or small, much easier to handle. But just about all inconveniences can be opportunities if you let them.