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April 22, 2008
What an extraordinary piece of luck -- I find that the power pack of my new laptop fits perfectly into the small of my back and makes a fine heating pad. Suddenly the only feature of this fabulous machine about which I was feeling a little guilty -- its waste of energy in the form of heat --has become a genuine saving of energy instead.

This happens in other situations, too. Just think about them with a little creativity, and many of the things of which you have been downright ashamed become assets. Most of them, probably. Not because they weren't bad things to begin with -- probably, they were -- but because you can turn them into something else.

Try this with something stupid you did in the past, or with something you don't even talk about because it embarrasses you. What else might its function be in your life? Has growing up poor given you a permanent sympathy for people who don't have a lot of money, and helped you to know that you can find a way to manage on whatever you have, no matter what happens? Does having been an immigrant make you a strong defender of the rights of newcomers to our shores? I was a teenaged single mother -- whatever anyone else says, I know that a youthful mistake doesn't mean one's life is over, and I know that the presence of obstacles does not mean there is no hope for something better.

A bad mistake, a run of bad luck: they don't have to set your course. Our past doesn't have to be our future. It will, though, unless we are willing to approach it with a creative eye and a resolute heart. A setback won't right itself, usually; we have to right it. But we are not alone in doing so -- God specializes in such things and scripture is full of setbacks turned around: prostitutes with brave and giving hearts, tax collectors with giving souls, repentant thieves. The abandoned find a home, and even care for others. The forsaken triumph and do not forsake, the betrayed prove faithful. And often, the triumph arises from the very spot of the injury.
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