We parked in the Stroman Middle parking lot. The crowd was growing and we didn’t know exactly where to go. With three kiddos in tow, we journeyed to the Community Center, crossed the barricaded street, passed the great smelling vendors, and found a security guard to ask where to go. I had this two year old on my shoulders, my wife was holding the hand of two others, one dressed in a cub scout uniform longing to find his troop and join them on the float.

As we made it through parking lots, I heard this voice shout. It is not typical of me to listen to public yelling people gone mad, so I ignored it and moved on toward the goal. Then I heard it again. “Hey you!” this time with more force. I turned to see if, by some chance, that person wanted to speak with me. He apparently was in one of the buildings, not affiliated with the parade. He found it so important to yell at me, drive his truck over from the building, and approach me very rudely. He yelled from his truck, “Hey, did you park here?” He wanted to know if I parked my car in what appeared to be a private function parking lot. I said, “No, I didn’t.” He asked again, more accusing me this time. I replied again, “No, I didn’t park here.” A third time, in an angry, like “I am going to get out of my truck and show you a thing or two” he accused, “Are you sure?” I replied, trying to keep my composure in front of my son, “I am sure” and turned to walk away. I doubt the man was convinced. He already found me guilty without wanting to hear anything else other than, “I parked in your private lot and lied to you three times so that I could get a closer space to an event.”

Keeping my outward expression charitable was difficult enough. My internal thoughts and emotions were flaring. Some thoughts that came to mind were, “Sir, if you don’t believe me, why don’t you break the windows of each of the cars or flatten the tires to get me back?” or, a short wave of my hand with three fingers and a thumb making a fist. These thoughts crossing my mind, a swell of anger coming from the belly, and being a man that doesn’t want to let it go, I found the better response was to make a good example for my children and show them a little how-to handle somebody that is rude, angry, falsely assuming, and threatening. I let it go. I dropped it. I continued with what we were doing and didn’t let somebody else control the evening of fun, family, and community that lay before us.

So “How did it work out for me?” Well the evening was wonderful and filled with good weather, behaving children, big crowd, and many families; just as a parade is supposed to be. I would like to ask this gentlelessman the same question, “How is it working out for you?” This is one of those questions that I find brings me to reflect on my life in the attempt to find if I am living happily or joyfully. Sure there are plenty of paradoxes of life, like this angry man, or personal faults, or natural mini-disasters, etc. that try to steal this joy away. There is no escape from these trials and rather than trying to escape, I found that joy can be found in the midst of them. Suffering, whether tiny pinpricks of each day or major life shaking hurts, will find each of us; however, these don’t have to control us. Joy can be found in the midst of them.