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The first nephew I was ever blessed with is named Paul. Nowadays he’s a strapping seven-year-old young man, complete with big brown eyes, an infectious laugh and little windows where his front teeth used to be. Way back when Paulie was only two years old, he was obsessed with all things construction. He had a little cartoon book with drawings of construction machines and trucks, and he remembered the names of all the different machines.

On many occasions I’d be driving little Paulie around town and suddenly I’d hear him scream out from his car seat, “Dump truck!” or “Backhoe!” or “Front loader!” or even “Excavator!” I’d look around wondering what the heck he was yapping about, and without fail I’d finally spot a construction site far off in the distance. This kid was obviously following his grandpa’s footsteps right into the exciting world of construction contracting.

This morning, I was reminded of my nephew as I was awakened at 7:00 a.m. by the sound of a wrecking ball tearing apart a building across the street from my house.

Imagine with me for a moment the sounds of crushing steel and crumbling cement. Can you hear it? How about entire concrete floors of a building falling on top of one another like a stack of pancakes? Can you tap into that audio feed? How about construction workers whistling at me as I walk by on my way to work? (Okay, that never happened.)

This noise isn’t exactly an enjoyable sound to wake up to. It’s quite disturbing and has an amazing ability to darken my mood for the entire day. After a few calls into the county building department, I quickly learned that I have no control over this situation. The bigwigs planning to tear down the old office building and build a 16-story apartment building (with a three-story underground garage) have more power than this single gal just trying to sleep in until 8:00 a.m. once in a while.

I came to the conclusion that the noise isn’t going away anytime soon. And my constant complaining and frustration over it isn’t helping my normally positive attitude stay that way. I needed to do something, and I needed to do something fast. So I swung over to the mall and visited every dad’s favorite store, Brookstone. After 15 minutes in the leather massage chair and 10 minutes smooshing different Tempur-Pedic pillows into my face, I bought what I came to buy.

My new sound machine now sits next to my alarm clock. I can listen to a stream trickling by, or a thunderstorm, or the ocean waves lapping on the shore, or some creepy meditation music. The white noise option, however, is all that really drowns out the construction noise. And even that isn’t 100 percent. But it helps.

It took me a couple weeks to even be able to fall asleep with the sound machine on. The white noise sounds like you’re in a wind tunnel inside of a 747 — a far cry from the complete silence I’m used to. But over time, my mind stopped wandering and I started to grow accustomed to falling asleep in the middle of a vacuum cleaner. I do love cleaning!

And slowly but surely, the wrecking ball isn’t bothering me as much. It’s still swinging away every day. The building is coming down like a castle of wooden blocks at the hands of a toddler. The noise still exists — but I’ve managed it.

What kinds of wrecking balls are swinging into your life today?

Are you letting them control you and make you feel annoyed, frustrated, angered, flat-out mad? Or are you doing something about it? There are some things we can control and some things we simply cannot. Learning to recognize that difference really puts things into perspective.

Sometimes the construction noise wakes me up — like this morning. Sometimes it doesn’t. But I’m learning to change my reaction to it either way. Just today I stepped outside my building and stopped for a few minutes to watch. I could picture little Paulie standing next to me, pointing and excitedly yelling, “Wrecking ball!” I could smell the dirt as the eight-year-old version of myself sat on my dad’s lap and helped move the bulldozer bucket up and down. I could see the good parts of the demolition, the hope of the future construction, the beauty in the ashes (Isaiah 61).

In life, you will inevitably walk through some construction sites. What do choose to see?

~Ruth