Sometimes the most meaningful thoughts and ideas in my life come from ordinary, even mundane, sources.  The spark of a new idea, or a better understanding of something I should have already known, can come from almost anything.  Often as I go about my daily routine I see something that makes me say, “Wow, I never really thought of that before”.   Granted these are not always profound realizations, but at times they are enough to get my attention and make me consider how to apply this new insight or needed reminder into my life journey.  That’s what happened as I sat down at my desk today.  

     It is a photo taken years ago of one of my granddaughters.   She’s just over a year old in the photo and sitting on top of a counter with grandma hovering right behind her.  The huge smile on her face makes it obvious that grandma has had her giggling as they play together.  Witnessing the innocence of a child and the pure joy of their laughter is one of those life moments we all love, especially when we can capture that in a picture or a video.   I couldn’t help but smile myself as I relived that memory from over a decade earlier.

     But then it hit me!  I mean, I’ve seen this picture hundreds, if not thousands, of times.  It’s part of a rotating collection of photos I play on one of those electronic picture frames.  It scrolls through randomly a few times every day.  But this time something about the photo caught my attention like it never had before.  In the photo my granddaughter is wearing a little yellow construction helmet.  I’m sure it probably belonged to her brother who is a year or so  older than she is. Her blonde hair and blue eyes peek out from the brim of this playground hard hat demonstrating that she thinks she’s prepared for whatever comes her way.  Of course, it helps to have a very protective grandma there to make sure nothing bad happens!   

     It was that bright little yellow hard hat that struck a new chord for me this morning.  Real hard hats, not the little yellow play ones,  are required to be worn on certain construction sites to protect the person wearing them from falling debris, low thresholds, and misguided tools.  OSHA is adamant about enforcing these rules for the common good of those working on these sites.  If you want to participate in what’s happening there,  you have to wear your hard hat!  It’s not debatable as far as OSHA is concerned……and they are willing the make that point perfectly clear by levying hefty fines for those who flaunt these rules.

      As much as we may want to debate the validity of why such requirements are in place, we can’t deny that the reason for the hard hat rules OSHA enforces is the safety of those working on these construction sites.  We may not like it, but honestly OSHA doesn’t care.  They feel they have ample evidence that hard hats do more good than harm.  Construction sites are inherently hazardous workplaces and many industrial accidents can be avoided if the workers will just follow the rules.  That’s why when you come to one of these sites you’ll see signs clearly posted that say “HARD HAT ZONE”.   You have to be willing to put on a hard hat or you won’t be allowed to enter the site.

      Some may read that last paragraph and think this article is about the current debate over the use of face masks or the Covid-19 vaccine mandates.  But it’s not!  While I may have opinions about those very relevant subjects,  that’s not my focus in writing today.  Rather, I was struck by what that little yellow helmet symbolized.   The fact is, every day we are blessed to wake up we enter into a “HARD HAT ZONE”, whether we know it or not!  There are unexpected circumstances beyond our control on all sides of us every single day.  Most of them will probably not affect us directly, but some will.  None of us are immune to the realities of the unexpected.  We need to put our proverbial “hard hats” on when we walk out the door!

       Incredibly,  even after I started writing this today I got a vivid reminder of how true that statement is!  I was 2-3 paragraphs into this article when I received a call from a longtime friend.  He owns an event company and employs numerous people.  Three of his guys left the office this morning to make a delivery.  As they drove down the freeway a man decided to commit suicide by truck.  Without warning that man not only took his own life, but he altered the life of these three guys, their families, my friend,  his company, and hundreds of others who suddenly were stranded on the freeway that was closed to all traffic.  No one expected that to happen to them today……except perhaps the man who decided to end his own life.  The debris falling from this one incident will alter lives for years to come. 

      The fact is, that same sort of thing may happen tomorrow.  The officers on the accident site said they had experienced similar experiences three times in the past week.  But it doesn’t take such a dramatic turn of events to make my point valid.  Every day we are confronted with the fallout of things going on around us  — the unexpected bill, the fight with our spouse,  our grumpy co-workers,  a personal failure,   a lingering injury,  a difficult conversation,  the constant cycle of bad news on TV,  a broken trust,  or………LIFE!  One of the constants of everyone’s life is that something will go wrong!  That’s not being pessimistic;  that’s being realistic.  It’s a “HARD HAT WORLD”  so we better be prepared in advance. 

      I would suggest it would do us all well to accept that fact.  We don’t need to cower in fear of what may go wrong around us, but we can’t expect to float through life oblivious to the chaos that may very well impact us. We can keep a very positive attitude without giving up a healthy perspective.  We can prepare ourselves to face whatever may come our way, even if we know some of those things will not be very pleasant.  A “hard hat mentality” is just wise preparation in advance to face life’s obstacles. 

      Fortunately, we have a friend who will always walk with us through such trials.   I don’t mean to sound overly spiritual, but it’s hard for me to imagine facing some of what life throws our way without having a relationship with God.   I believe He sent His Son Jesus to earth to live as a human so that we would know He understands.   He endured more than His share of life’s hazards and faced them head on.  He promised to never leave us, even when the chaos is going on all around us.  All He asks us to do is keep trusting Him and keep our eyes focused on the ultimate goal.  So while it’s true it may be a “HARD HAT LIFE” at times, it’s nice to know we’re not alone.         

  Here’s to little yellow hard hats…and the cute little girls who grow up to be such sweet reminders of God’s blessing in our lives. 

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