by Rebekah Cochell
If I ever become famous, it will not be for my art, or my writing, or any other “work” I do.
I am convinced my distinction will be from a scientific law I discovered. And as of right now, I find no evidence anyone has discovered it before. I call it the “Law of Natural Convergences.” I believe it is a universal and fundamental law, like gravity.
What is the “Law of Natural Convergences” you ask?
Let’s say you take your dog for a walk on a narrow country road. There are no cars for miles, and then suddenly there is a car, but not just one, there are two that pass from opposite directions at the same exact moment. Not only that, but a lone bicycler will appear and simultaneously pass you at the same time the cars do, literally leaving no room on the road for you and your pup.
Or when you are driving, and you are about to pull out onto a road. There were no cars at all, and then the second you are about to pull out, several cars appear and there is no chance to move for several minutes.
Or when you are shopping, and the store is empty. By the time you are done, there is a very long line at the checkout counter, yet these people came in at all different times from nowhere.
These are physical examples, but I think you may have noticed how very few things happen singularly. Catastrophes, as well as good things, occur in bundles.
This Law of Natural Convergences comes into full effect during deployments.
But during deployment, it’s always the catastrophes that occur. Everything that can go wrong will, and all at the same time.
The only other explanation of this is what I call the Deployment Goblin. But of course, we can’t really admit to believing in a supernatural beast who wreaks havoc in our lives, breaking everything, and causing every kid to get sick or have broken limbs. Anyway, no one has really seen him, so a scientific law is much more plausible.
Things that have happened to me during my husband’s deployments would only be believed by another military spouse.
During one deployment, the hail storm of the century fell on our town. The hail damage to my new car was devastating. I had barely taken it out of the garage. But that day, I needed to run to the store, and it was going to rain so I took the brand-new car. My other car is a Jeep and had its top down. So, as I was at the store, the storm of the century hit, and the car was no longer nice and new.
This occurred during the same week that my kids all had a stomach virus, there was a lockdown on post, and my coffee maker broke!
The first two months of the last deployment there were few catastrophes, and I was feeling confident I could keep it all together. Big mistake! One day my son, a new driver, missed a street sign and sharply compensated the turn. The car skidded sideways and slid into a stop sign which broke in two, snapped back, and broke off the driver’s side mirror and also left some nice dents.
Then the next week, it began getting very hot. Over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The air conditioner stopped working. Now, before you think, just call a professional, it was a non-combat deployment which sometimes can cause financial strain. And that was not the only thing that broke! The weed whacker, the lawn mower, my toaster oven, a flat tire, and someone rear ended my car in a construction zone.
And then to top it all off, on a particularly busy day I decided I needed to go to the gym to survive. I was rushing, and slammed the car door into my forehead, resulting in a very attractive gash on my eyebrow. I still have no idea how that was possible, and since I refuse to believe in the Deployment Goblin, the “Law of Natural Convergences” must have been in play.
My first inclination was to go back to bed in an attempt to shut the chaos out. But we all know how well that works.
It’s a good thing I didn’t, because in any of the situations, that would have been bad. Especially in the case of my forehead gash; I needed four stitches. So, I just want to offer some encouragement that we can all get through those times when the Law of Natural Convergences is in full play.
When things go wrong, it gives you a little bit of leverage and control depending on how you react.
I say this because so much in the military life is not in your “circle of control.”
Being married to a soldier means you cannot always decide when you are with your spouse, or where you live, or when you move. However, when something breaks, in a small way you have the power to fix something.
Studying and teaching the 7 habits of Highly Effective People has provided me with a paradigm shift. That circle of control concept is huge for me! If you are unfamiliar, it basically says that there are things outside of your control and if you waste time trying to control things you can’t, you are going to be wasting your time, and be very stressed out. What you do have control over is your attitude and your actions and responses.
So, when important things break, I try to think about my response and what I can do. Perhaps there is some way I can fix it myself. I am frugal, but this seriously goes beyond saving money. It gives me a little control over the havoc. It feels great!
This worked for the car mirror when my son decided to drive into a stop sign. We pulled to the side of the road and I took a deep breath and thought… I need to find the mirror. Maybe I can fix it. I was a little shaky, but I got out of the car and found the mirror on the street. I drove home and luckily there was no law in the state that required a side mirror.
I googled my car and the issue and found that the mirror could be replaced and all it took was a couple of screws. I felt confident that I could do it. I found a replacement mirror on Ebay. The painted part of the original was still in perfect condition and I popped it off and fixed it. I had never, EVER done anything like that before.
The air conditioner broke and it was very hot in our house. Suffocating. If my husband was home, he could have looked at it. He worked on air conditioners during seminary. So, I figured I would call him.
He walked me through the analysis, and he was positive it was a $10 piece that supplied a charge to a bigger piece that was the issue. I was able to order the $10 piece and install it. I was very careful to make sure the circuit breaker was off; there are some jobs requiring respect of already established scientific laws. Among them is anything to do with electric currents.
In a couple of situations, I had to reach out of my comfort zone and ask for help. It is difficult asking for help. But I have found in military communities, there are many people who want to help, because they have been there!
And the door in the face? It didn’t hurt, but I stopped and looked in the mirror. I knew I had to get stitches. I hate hospitals, but I knew I needed to go immediately. I jumped in the car and drove to the ER. If I were to redo that situation, I would have called a friend to drive me. Head injuries are not predictable.
These were some examples of gaining control over the many things that go wrong. Of course, we can’t fix everything. And sometimes we need to call a professional, and that’s okay too. You are still in control of that interaction. Some people are not so great at fixing things but can find alternative solutions or they have skills with bargaining for deals or services.
When the Law of Natural Convergences wreaks havoc in our lives, we often get stressed out and frazzled. But most of the time, the things that happen are not that big. They are little things in the grand scheme of life.
Some of them we can even laugh about later. Yet it is so easy to worry and stress about them when we are experiencing them, even though the worry doesn’t change anything or help anyone.
Of course, some things that happen are huge, truly devastating, or life-changing. And sometimes there are things we can’t fix or control at all.
I have been in some of those situations, and to be honest, I don’t have the strength or wisdom to be in control.
It is comforting to know that God is, though! We can trust that He is in control and loves us. Not everything may turn out the way we want, yet God’s presence, love, and promises can be our comfort.
“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” (Psalm 94:19)