At the time, the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was playing everywhere. You remember that little number, don’t you?
Here’s a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry, be happy . . .
There is something quite odd about the best times; we often don’t notice them until they’re gone.
But I was worried. And I most certainly was not happy.
The previous week I’d started my first real job at Shell Oil, Australia. It couldn’t have come soon enough. I was sleeping on the living room floor of my brother’s share house in Erskineville, Sydney, recovering from a particularly bad case of glandular fever and I was flat broke.
Not only did I start a job with what at the time seemed an immensely generous salary, but I was given an electric blue Holden Commodore company car to go with it. I dubbed it “the Blue Bullet of Destiny” and prepared to drive it through the Harbour City singing “the future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades . . .” Except it wasn’t.
The first weekend I had the Blue Bullet, I smashed it into the rear end of a car on the Pacific Highway. Examining the damage, I was full of fear and loathing. But, as it turns out, for no good reason. Come Monday, my new boss thought my debutante driving disaster a great hoot. All my colleagues were ordered out of the office to examine the damage in the parking lot, retell their various mishaps in company cars over the years and have a good laugh.
It turns out, crashing a brand new car on your first weekend on the job is quite humorous. Particularly when it’s not actually your car. And it’s not your money that’s going to fix it . . .
That weekend still stands out in my mind, however, as what it means to have a truly awful weekend.
Which is in stark contrast to last weekend.
There is something quite odd about the best times; we often don’t notice them until they’re gone. But at the end of last weekend it hit me how extraordinarily fortunate we are, and that much of that fortune is because we are part of a caring and fun-loving community with God’s love at its centre.
The weekend began when I picked up my children from our local Adventist school. The school seems rather normal to me. But talking to parents who transferred their children into the school, I’ve got a picture of just how unusually nurturing the school is. It’s a place where love rules—because God rules. And it isn’t all just soft fuzzies. It turns out when kids are loved and valued, they excel. So maybe it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the school is at the very apex of academic performance in the nation. Happy kids progressing well in spiritual, mental, physical and social spheres at a great school = the perfect place to start a great weekend.
On Sabbath morning, we went to church where our kids are treated to music, stories, crafts, quizzes and their thoughts on the deepest questions in life are listened to respectfully by adults who care for their spiritual journey. All run by volunteers who have busy lives of their own and could just as well be having a bit of a sleep in. From time to time my children participate in the church program as well. What a confidence building experience to, from a young age, stand up before hundreds of people and be listened to and appreciated.
Sabbath afternoon, friends from church popped over and our kids played happily. No appointment necessary. All seamless and comfortable.
On Sunday morning, we headed for the Weet-bix Tryathlon; another great opportunity for our kids to get into a healthy, active lifestyle. They ended the day proudly wearing their medals. But the weekend wasn’t over just yet. That afternoon, the Pathfinder club held swimming honours at the San pool, complete with vegie hotdogs and watermelon. All run by volunteers who love God and love our kids. And don’t mind getting pushed into the pool by kids having an awesome amount of fun.
No, I am not seeing last weekend through rose-coloured glasses. The truth is that Adventists have created for my children, and for anyone else who chooses to come along, a wonderful, nurturing community that provides a great variety of positive opportunities to grow in nearly every facet of life.
It’s an excellent formula for a great weekend.
Every weekend of the year.
James Standish is editor of Record.