by Peter Leavell
All bad things come with lessons. It can soften the blow if you look at it as a gift.
One winter, I took my family to our favorite hotel in the mountains. It’s our getaway, with snow, pines, a railway, a fire, and all the hot cocoa you can drink. We play card games and read.
But it’s cold in our mountain valley. The windshield is always iced over. So when it was time to go home, as I loaded our car, I let my (at the time) eight-year-old daughter scrape the windshield.
She did a terrible job. Just awful. I hunkered my head down to see through the dime-sized hole she’d opened through the frost. It was enough, I thought, to see the road ahead. I pushed away my wife’s advice that I wait and scrape it myself, assuring myself I wasn’t lazy—I just didn’t want to hurt my daughter’s feelings by “fixing”’ her work. She was proud to have helped Daddy.
By the time we made it out of Cascade, our little resort town nestled in the mountains, the viewing area had expanded to the size of a quarter. I checked behind me, noting that the rear defrosters always works so much faster in ten-below-zero weather, and then spotted the flashing lights.
I pulled over, and the officer waited while my electric window whined and screamed its way down. He was laughing.
“You have got to be kidding me. Your windshield….”
I gave an embarrassed smile and nodded. He asked for my license and registration, and told me to fix it. I scraped away the rest of the ice, and for good measure, the headlights, side windows, and side mirrors.
When he returned, he patted me on the back and told me to have a nice day. I closed the door and gave a sigh of relief. No ticket.
Heartbroken for a Reason
After two minutes of driving down the road and some small talk, my daughter burst into tears. Her sobs made me want to cry.
“Oh sweetie, what’s wrong?”
“I got you in trouble, Daddy.”
It took a while to comfort her, but we finally helped her understand it was truly my fault.
A few weeks later, I was speaking with my friend on our local police force, Officer Ellis. When I told him about my daughter crying, he nodded his head. “Good.”
What? How could my daughter being in tears EVER be good?
Because, he explained, it’s a lesson learned the easy way. One she won’t forget. Her windshield will be clean her entire life.
Even though my daughter was crushed by the incident, she took away the lesson, or as we call it in our family, the gem behind the catastrophe.
A few months later, my son’s soccer buddy, age 13, killed himself. As a challenge, we decided to look for the gift that the boy gave us, the gem. If we could find it in this tragedy, surely everything could teach us. My son, devastated but determined, thought for weeks. Finally, he looked back on how he was living his twelfth year of life, and found he was giving God every day since his buddy died. Because every moment mattered. It’s been almost a year, and my son still takes on each day as if it is his last.
So when our writing is rejected, or we lose a contest, or we’re critiqued to the ends of our strength, look for the gift, the gem. There is one. Take it, and be a better writer, better person. For those around you, but most of all, for Him.
Author Peter Leavell forges an unprecedented tale of tragedy and triumph amid the backdrop of the Civil War through the story of Tad, a very clever slave boy who comes of age as America’s war reaches the sea islands of South Carolina. Tad’s desire to better himself is obstructed by the color of his skin, until Northern soldiers force the evacuation of white plantation owners, setting 10,000 slaves free in a single day. These circumstances seem like a dream, except that the newly freed slaves have no money, no education, and little hope for the future—unless someone rises up to lead them. Based on true events, Gideon’s Call is the dramatic tale of a young man who battles the shame of his past and faces the horrors of war and unimaginable prejudice to become the deliverer of thousands of freed slaves.
Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. For entertainment, he reads historical books, where he finds ideas for new novels. Whenever he has a chance, he takes his wife and two homeschooled children on crazy but fun research trips. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at www.peterleavell.com and on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PeterLeavell.